Stores still scrambling to keep some items stocked, local chains getting creative

Local grocery and specialty stores may look well stocked, especially compared to the height of the pandemic, but some D.C.-area stores say they’re still scrambling to cover gaps in the supply chain.

“We’ve had off brands that people will try,” said Roy Rodman, owner of Rodman’s stores in Northwest D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland. “That’s the best we can do.”

Keeping shelves stocked during the pandemic has been like nothing he’s ever seen.

For some brands — mostly European ones — the struggle is ongoing. Before the pandemic, he had no problem getting the items he ordered. Now, he can’t get or has a long wait for almost 10% of his orders.

“We sell a lot of water from all over the world. There’s gaps in carriers bringing them to retailers.”

He blames the stocking troubles on deep labor shortages.

He’s had to get creative in order to meet demand.

“We offer up an alternative whenever possible,” he said. “Most people are fine with that.”

Mom’s Organic Market spokeswoman Lisa de Lima said they’re in the same boat when it comes to supply issues.

“Unsurprisingly, in the beginning, toilet paper was one of many struggles,” she said. “These days the products that are harder to get have less to do with shipping, ingredients and the commodities themselves, and more to do with supply-chain issues tied to packaging and labor shortages.”

Because both chains are smaller ones, they can pull from local suppliers for a substitution.

When customers find something that’s been missing for an extended period, Rodman said, “They’re delighted when they find the product back on the shelf.”

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