The backroom at Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers is more stocked than owner Kenny Brechner has ever seen in the 30 years he’s run the store. DDG is among a bevy of other businesses in downtown Farmington that report difficulties stocking shelves due to the supply-chain issues impacting the country. Photo courtesy of Kenny Brechner

FARMINGTON — Supply-chain issues have been impacting the country since the beginning of the pandemic. However, they transformed this past summer — intensified by a perfect storm of increased demand, lack of materials, increasing transportation and shipping costs, a backlog of cargo ships in California ports and labor shortages across multiple industries.

Those issues, which have had an impact for quite some time, are making the holiday shopping season more difficult for businesses in Farmington.

The Livermore Falls Advertiser spoke with multiple businesses who report the issues’ impacts and the workarounds they’ve needed to implement in order to meet the demands of holiday shoppers.

Kenny Brechner, owner of Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers in downtown Farmington, said that the issues are impacting “every point” of the supply chain.

Everyday Music owner Ernie Scholl said he’s waited weeks to months for certain products to come in that he normally receives within days.

He reported that he can get 60% of what he orders within days. For the remaining 40%, whether that be musical instruments or vinyl LPs, he has to “wait” and that wait time is often unclear.


At Sensi Sensei, manager Quinn Sharkey said they are similarly waiting five to six months for certain stock. The average, Sharkey said, is around one to two months. Sensi Sensei stocks a mixture of clothes, smoking accessories, glass art and items like crystals and incense.

Scholl and Brechner both report being capped for what they order, as well. Scholl will order six copies of a particular vinyl record and receive only two. Brechner said publishing houses are “blocking large-scale purchases of books … [to] try to keep the market spread.”

This has similarly happened to the Better Living Center. Owner Wayne Drake said he’s made $9,000 order of groceries and only received $4,000 of stock.

Scholl said that the products he is able to order are more expensive to ship than ever.

At the beginning of the pandemic, a guitar case cost $50 and the freight was $30. In October 2020, the price of the case increased to $52 and the freight was $60. In August, the case was $56. The freight? $98.

“To me, it’s price gouging,” Scholl said. “We have to pay the freight” — no matter what.


Sharkey also said that the prices of stock Sensi Sensei buys have gone up.

To avoid empty shelves, Brechner said he’s “worked steady, super hard early on buying … to accumulate books that I knew I wanted, loved and wanted to support on hand.”

“We’ve prepared a heavier stock level than I’ve ever carried in 30 years of running the store,” Brechner said. “Things couldn’t be less certain. It was a challenge, logistically.”

Scholl has similarly had to order a higher level of stock to compensate for slow shipping times, products he cannot find.

“I had to rethink my entire ordering process because I just can’t contact one of my suppliers and get the stuff in a matter of a few days,” Scholl said. “I really had to get my mind reoriented.”

Luckily, both Scholl and Brechner are in industries where you can order most products a great deal in advance. At the Better Living Center with food products, it’s a lot harder to prepare in advance.


“I was prepared to have product to sell expecting that there will be problems getting in materials. I want to be able to live off what we had in the store as much as possible,” Brechner said.

Scholl has also been filling shelves with “substitutes,” or “other like quantities,” such as alternate Beatles’ albums if a specific, more popular album is out of stock.

“If it’s not there, I’ll get in what else I can get,” Scholl said.

However, preparing for impact and anticipating shortages can only go so far when customers are looking for specific products.

“We’re obviously really impacted by people wanting their orders in or wanting particular books or filling the special orders that we always do,” Brechner said. “That’s hard right now. I pretty much can’t guarantee anything.”

But if they don’t want to wait, what happens? Well, of course, they go elsewhere, such as e-commerce sites like Amazon with a reputation for two-day shipping.


Scholl believes that Amazon Prime’s speedy shipping has created a new standard of expectations and a need for instant gratification.

He added that Amazon has added to the shear stress on shipping and distribution companies, who prioritize fast delivery for the corporation over shipments for other businesses.

“We would not have so many problems [without Amazon] because there wouldn’t be this time crunch to get things,” Scholl said. “The volume of individual packages [from Amazon] going into homes is just incredible.”

Not all businesses are impacted. Owners of the Mercantile and the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies both said that they have not felt negatively impacted.

But it’s taken a toll on those that have faced the issues. The toll is not only in terms of filling the shelves, but the amount of time business owners have spent trying to ensure orders come in.

“I’ve been constantly checking on orders to see what was going on,” Brechner said.


“It’s been a bit more of a handful [for the store’s owner] to try to keep track, a lot more list taking,” Sharkey said.

Both added that it’s been incredibly time consuming.

Luckily, both Brechner and Scholl say that sales are “on par” with the holiday seasons of prior years.

Scholl said sales are the same or better than they have been in the last couple of years and customers are very supportive.

“Most people that see small businesses know what we’re going through,” he said. “Most people we’re seeing have adjusted.

“And I like to think that we have been less severely impacted than many businesses,” Scholl added.


Sharkey said that customers are “pretty understanding” at Sensi Sensei, as well.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem like Everyday Music, DD&G and Sensi Sensei will be able to retire this new model anytime soon.

“When is this going to change?” Scholl asked his sales rep.

“It isn’t,” Scholl was told. “Get used to it.”

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