My shoes came! How are Y’ALL doing with the supply chain?

My new shoes. I need to break them in, but they're feeling pretty good...

My new shoes. I need to break them in, but they’re feeling pretty good…

My new shoes finally came! I’m wearing them right now. They feel pretty good so far, although it will take a while before they’re as comfortable as my old ones.

The old ones are a somewhat tattered pair of Salomon “Fellraisers,” which I got shortly before going to Thailand in 2015. I think of them as my “Thailand jungle shoes,” because when I got them, I was thinking about that day we planned to spend hiking through Khao Yai National Park. (Which was awesome.) Salomon calls them “trail-running shoes,” with knobby things on the bottoms meant to provide traction on natural, unpaved surfaces. I’m not planning on hiking through any tropical seasonal forests in the near future, but when these started wearing out on me, I wanted some more, for one simple reason:

They fit my feet better than any pair of shoes I’ve ever worn in my life. Far and away. It’s like they were painted onto my weird, narrow feet, for which I’ve always had trouble finding shoes that even come remotely close to fitting.

One problem: Salomon quit making the Fellraiser. (You may not know this, but the entire global economy seems to be built largely upon one little-known principle: Produce a product that Brad Warthen really, really likes. Wait until he realizes that, and truly appreciates the product. Then stop making it. I plan to write a post about this later.)

So I kinda freaked. But then I settled down, and started writing to Salomon to ask, as politely as I could, “What do you still make that is as much like the Fellraiser as possible?” They were helpful, and eventually I settled upon the Speedcross 5 Gore-Tex. I went for the color they somewhat ludicrously overdescribed as “Martini Olive / Peat / Arrowwood” (stuff like that always reminds me of Elaine Benes writing ad copy for J. Peterman, which makes me smile). They seemed the closest to my old ones, which in my unimaginative way I call “green.”

This was back in April. But I just got the shoes. Why? Because of the way the global supply chain got backed up by COVID. They told me in April to get back to them the second week of July. So I did, and it worked out, and that’s great.

But I was wondering what sorts of supply-chain problems the rest of you have been running into. Because this goes way beyond shoes.

COVID did (and is still doing) a lot of a lot of stuff to the economy, and one was that it knocked its rhythm off.

New York magazine recently laid it out this way:

At the beginning of the pandemic, it felt like everything essential was in short supply. Toilet paperhand sanitizerdumbbellsflour, and even baby wipes were nearly impossible to find as we all hunkered down for what we had no idea would be more than a year of quarantine. But now, as pandemic restrictions ease in the U.S., so too does our once-overwhelming inclination to hoard. If our lives are (slowly) returning, shouldn’t the availability of the things we want to buy get back to normal too?

As it turns out, no. Soaring demand from our lockdown lives and fewer workers have left suppliers strapped for major materials like lumber and aluminum — not to mention the semiconductors that power everything from our cars to our laptops. Those shortages trickle down into less-major things, too, which means that, Girl Scout cookies aside, lots of products are hard to come by. If you’re among the millions of Americans who bought a pandemic house, you may be struggling to get materials to build a new deck or repair a fence. Or maybe you’re just trying to get your hands on a can of your dog’s favorite wet food, a set of patio furniture for under $1,000, or a Playstation 5. Maybe you’ve finally decided to buy a used Subaru, if you could just locate a dealership that has one, or you went to re-up on your go-to organic cotton underwear, only to find the price has risen $2 per pair. Whatever your need, if you want something right now, you may well have to either pay a lot more to get it or find a suitable alternative.

On a more personal level, I go to the store now, and usually can find what I need — but I can’t help noticing how thinly populated the shelves seem. I keep hearing from family members about their troubles finding basic things that would not normally be hard at all to find, seeing as how we’re not actually living in the Soviet Union of circa 1980.

Anyway, as I said, I wonder what y’all are seeing…

My old shoes, when they were new. This is the morning we were about to set out in Khao Yai. The canvas things were issued to us to protect against leeches.

My old shoes, when they were new. This is the morning we were about to set out in Khao Yai. The canvas things were issued to us to protect against leeches.


14 thoughts on “My shoes came! How are Y’ALL doing with the supply chain?

  1. Scout

    Caffeine Free Coke Zero is completely unobtainable. It has been gone for over a year. It has never come back. There was a time early on when all soft drinks were scarce and there was some rumbling about an aluminum shortage. Well all the others came back but not Caffeine Free Coke Zero. Coke Zero became Coke zero sugar, but the caffeine free version never made the shift – it stayed caffeine free coke zero – but then disappeared during the pandemic. I miss it. I’ve adjusted to caffeine free diet coke, but it’s not as good. oh well. Maybe one day.

    1. Barry

      Caff Free Diet Pepsi has been hard to obtain. Our local Food Lion hasn’t had 12 aluminum packs in months and months. My wife talked to the Pepsi delivery guy once in Food Lion and he said they had trouble getting cans so they were being used to make the regular soda lines.

      They do have Caff free Diet Pepsi 2 liters – but not on a steady basis. My wife bought some this morning at Food Lion but chances are later this week they’ll be out. That’s been the pattern.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    The supply chain has absolutely frustrated my wife in her attempt to order some new chairs for the living room, some fabric for some drapes, and some other odds and ends for our house. Anything related to home goods has been very delayed.

    Don’t even think about trying to order an appliance right now. I’ve heard many clients tell me they have waited up to three months for just a regular refrigerator.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      We had to get a new washing machine lately, but it wasn’t too bad. It took a week or two before they delivered it, as I recall. We got it from Best Buy. It’s a Samsung. Working pretty well.

      Then, about a week after we got it, the heating element went out on the dryer. A guy came to fix it today, and he says it’s OK now. I hope he’s right…

  3. bud

    Lumber issues have forced a delay in a family member’s home construction. Prices have come down but supply is still an issue. This has already caused a 2 month delay. But the end is in sight (hopefully)

  4. Barry

    I purchased a Jet Ski but I ordered it late in 2020. I had to wait 4 months but it came in.

    Other that have ordered them in early 2021 are either still waiting or had their orders canceled by Yamaha or Sea Doo. I am not aware of Kawasaki’s supplier issues as they are more of a minor player in the jet ski market these days as they have been behind in the innovation department.

    This market- along with the boat market- has been severely backlogged. Dealers have been very upset at not getting their orders for customers.

    1. Barry

      I think two young ladies were recently killed on bicycles in the upstate – one was recently married.

      South Carolina is much too dangerous for bike riding on roads.

  5. Doug T

    Bicycles and bike parts in short supply. But given the accidents involving the Converse College President, the person crossing the Ashley River Bridge and the football coach in CA, I may want to park mine anyway.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Yeah, a kid bike was impossible to find during the pandemic, and they are only barely now available.

  6. Norm Ivey

    May 2020 our dishwasher ceased to function. We would have had to wait 6 months for our first choice. Chose a different one instead. Other than that, no disruptions.

  7. bud

    My pulmonologist says I need a CPAP machine. He also said they’re in very short supply. Could be months.

  8. Scout

    After going to multiple stores today, I can add to the list – canning jar lids. There are none to be found anywhere. My fig tree is busting and I am gearing up to make preserves and chutney. I have plenty of jars and rings – I just need the lids. You can occasionally find new packs of jars which include the lids, though those are also hit and miss. I had to buy more jars to get some lids.

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