Successfully Buying Goods During the Current Supply Chain Problems

If you have been shopping for anything beyond groceries lately, you might have noticed supplies are a little thin. Car lots are less than half full. Appliances are on back order. Paint is hard to get. Furniture and appliances will arrive next summer, maybe. With manufacturers running with fewer employees, trucking backed up and shipments from overseas backed up, many things are slow to arrive. 

We were recently planning to build a new house, but that project came to a halt for several reasons, one of which was the supply chain issues. Instead, we decided to redecorate our current home to include the things we were going to put in the new home.

We decided we didn’t want to wait until next summer to receive our furniture and appliances so we became creative with our shopping. Here is how we got our home redecorated, new paint throughout, new floor covering throughout, new counters in bathrooms, many new appliances and all new furniture. All without having to wait for anything. 

Our awareness of the supply chain problem happened when we took the motorhome out for a trip to the lake and found a part broken. We tracked down the part in June and the only way to get the part was to order it online. I got a call a couple of days later from the company where I ordered the part to inform me the manufacturer had the part on a six-week back order. I said that was fine. It has been six months since that phone call and I haven’t heard a thing about my part. This firsthand look at the supply chain issues made us aware of what we were facing.

As I shopped for a grand piano, I realized I did not want to pick out a piano and then wait 6-12 months to have it delivered. The local piano store only has a couple of pianos on display and would order the actual one you want to buy. 

I began shopping for pianos all over the state to find a piano I wanted that was in stock and ready to deliver, or a good used piano. In August I found it, a short four hour drive from my home. We wanted the rooms painted and new flooring installed before the piano arrived so it would not need to be moved again.

We went to the flooring store and found that they had three availabilities of carpet. There is the stuff they keep on hand that is frequently purchased, the stuff that is in the regional warehouse that can be delivered in about ten days, and the carpets that need to be ordered from the manufacturer and they had no idea how long it would take to arrive. 

We found a carpet we liked from the stock they had on hand at the store, booked an installation date and asked for the piano to be delivered the week after the carpet installation.

Then we frantically started painting the interior of our house, which we wanted done before the carpet arrived. Although paint was sometimes difficult to get, we never had to wait more than a few days to get more when I underestimated our need. We finished the painting, had the carpet installed and received delivery on the piano, which made me a happy camper.

Now for new furniture. We purchased most of our furniture when we moved into our house 24 years ago and it needed a refresh. While shopping for furniture we learned that many furniture stores would not sell their floor stock, as it was for display only. The back ordering was so bad that if they sold the inventory on the floor, they would have an empty showroom. 

But when I asked around, it turns out there were a few items on the floor that they would sell. These items were either a closeout model, so they wouldn’t be carrying the item any longer, or they had duplicates of that particular item currently in their warehouse. This was good to know.

We started going to every furniture store within a 200 miles radius looking only at the items the store was willing to sell immediately. We figured if we looked around, we should be able to find things we liked in colors we wanted that we could take home. Some stores even had the furniture tagged that was available immediately. 

We discovered some stores had nothing to sell and others did. Even the same chain store in the next town might have different items available to purchase and take home. We found a couch we loved at one store that had to be ordered and found that same couch in the same color at a store 140 miles away and they were willing to sell it off the floor. We bought another couch off the floor from them also.

We then found a swivel/rocker/recliner that we liked in a store that had only one of them and we needed two. After called around for other stores who sold that brand, we found a pair of them in another town. We took a little road trip and loaded them in the SUV and brought them home. 

We wanted to replace the washer and dryer we bought when we got married 33 years ago with the model we picked out for the new house. We were told we might be able to get that one in eight months. Our dryer had started to make a noise and I thought it was about to go out. Since we didn’t want to be left without a dryer, we looked at the models again and found another set, very similar to what we had chosen, that were currently available in the warehouse. Choosing a slightly different model, we had our set delivered seven days later.

The big screen TV we wanted was an unusual and expensive model that did not fly off the shelf. We were lucky that it was in stock.

We wanted a new bed. Our bed was purchased 33 years ago when we were newlyweds. Now we wanted an electric bed that could be moved into a sitting position for reading or watching TV. After doing a fit test to determine the mattress softness that best suited each of us, we asked to see only the mattresses that were in stock ready to be delivered. We found the perfect mattresses. The basses were the final two of the prior model year so they not only would sell them off the floor, but at a discounted price.

With a little searching and asking what was really available, we were able to find everything we wanted without needing to wait for delivery, with the exception of one item. My wife found an area rug she really liked for the living room. She ordered it online with a delivery date in seven days. Seven days later we got a message that there was a delivery problem and the date had been modified to unknown. 

By avoiding ordering online, and shopping at the local brick and mortar stores, our redecorating is not suffering from supply chain issues. Just be flexible, shop local where you can see they have the inventory in stock, and ask specifically for what they can deliver now. You should be able to get what you want. 

You might have to mix and match stores like we did for our new patio furniture last summer. We found a set we liked but no one had all the pieces. We were able to purchase the chairs from the store in our town and the table from a store thirty miles away. But we got what we wanted!

I sure hope that motorhome part gets here before we want to go camping again. But if not, we have lots of places to sit in our “feels like new” house. I think I’ll go play the piano now.

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