US small businesses face constant supply chain disruptions

US small businesses face constant supply chain disruptions

“It ruined our business when we had to temporarily use the Taiwanese pearls for two to three months,” said William Cho, owner of The Boba Shop. “People are very picky about their pearls.” Another owner worried that sourcing from a different supplier would damage his reputation. In Michigan, the founder of Green Door Distilling Co. Josh Cook told MiBiz that glass shortages have been “catastrophic.”

Nearly half of small businesses surveyed in March reported product shortages or other supply problems, the Wall Street Journal reported, noting that smaller firms tended to have fewer options than larger companies when it comes to navigating these challenges. From labor shortages to redirected production to a brutally cold winter to a boat stuck in the sand, the setbacks and delays are putting a particular strain on the nation’s smaller businesses.

In San Francisco, the Chronicle reported that import shortages have forced one family-owned boba tea shop, Boba Bliss, was sending relatives all over the East Bay Area to score elusive boxes of tapioca pearls. All across the US, small businesses continue to face shortages and delays of key resources due to the compounding effects of more than a year of supply-chain shocks.

The shortages and price increases are being felt in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where restaurant owners told the Journal they are shelling out $185 for a box of nitrile gloves that used to cost $40 before the pandemic. While some consumer-facing businesses may be able to pass along price increases to their customers, some B2B companies told the Journal they are feeling the squeeze. Also in Michigan, the Journal reports one apparel company is trying to bypass two-month delays in ocean shipping by paying $8,000 to send 72 boxes of t-shirts, 10 times the usual cost. 

“How can you plan for that? You really can’t,” he said. The reason? Cook’s glass suppliers are all contracted up to produce vaccine vials, causing lead-times to jump from less than two months to more than four. 

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