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St. Louis businesses planned months in advance to be ready for holiday supply chain issues

Many took risks during the summer to be ready for holiday shopping

ST. LOUIS — You've likely heard the warnings as we head into the holidays – buy early!

"Anything your child has their heart set on, don't wait," said Shawntá Ray, owner of Happy Up Inc. in Clayton and Edwardsville.

Ray said people seem to be heeding the warnings by shopping early. 

"The holidays have started. The panic (of the holidays) usually starts mid to late November. I'm now having it in October," Ray said.

 Adding to Ray's holiday panic, supply chain shipping issues. 

"The global supply chain has never been so interesting to me as it has this year," she said.

Ray said some items she ordered back in January are just arriving. Despite the challenges, the shelves at Happy Up remain stocked. Ray said she planned ahead and took a financial risk by stocking up on extra inventory, spending money on popular holiday toys over summer.

"I let items ship in mid-June that I normally wouldn't accept to late October," said Ray. 

Puzzle Warehouse in Fenton took the same approach. Brian Way's business has exploded since the start of the pandemic thanks to people staying home for months and perhaps trying to break away from the screen with a relaxing puzzle.

"It's been 10x growth," said Way. 

Way is expanding his warehouse by 20,000 feet to keep up with demand and a step ahead of supply chain snags.

"What we're doing and the bigger suppliers like Amazon are doing is investing in warehousing," said Way. "Putting more product locally so you're not having to rely on the supply chain disruption."

In late October, Amazon posted on a blog that said it was ready for the holiday season. The company said it was investing in its supply chain, including logistics, ports, shipping containers, fleet and workers. 

"I think at every level of the supply chain, everyone is doing the best they can. So, if you keep that in mind, people are doing the best they can. That's really the spirit of the season we want," said Ray.