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Southwest Florida businesses impacted by supply chain issues

Posted at 9:32 AM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 07:26:46-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The impacts of the global supply chain shortage is having an impact on people and businesses right here in Southwest Florida.

Backlogs that built up during the pandemic have caused bottlenecks at ports, leaving ships waiting to dock and unload their goods.

This shortage is forcing businesses on the local level to rethink their entire strategy. Products for restaurants have been notably in short supply.

Marlies Laaper is the owner of Café You in Cape Coral. She says she's spending more time trying to find supplies. At the moment, when they go to place an order on the products they order frequently… they're out. Not just a day or a week, but for multiple weeks at a time.

The price for a box of gloves- for example- has gone up three times its regular price before Covid-19. Laaper tells me a box of 1,000 gloves used to go for $30. Now, she's paying $90 a box. Bread flour costs just under $20 for 50 pounds, paying an extra $12.50 just to ship it from another part of the country. It's causing Laaper, as well as many others, to rethink their business strategy even when it comes to the menu.

"When we couldn't get our regular flour, we were testing to see if other flours would work," said Laaper. "This is stuff you would only normally do maybe once every year or once every six months- you wouldn't have to do this on a continuous basis. It's very, very time consuming yes."

Laaper also said she's avoided raising prices on her menu. She says she could certainly do that when a particular item is in low supply but, say in a month's time, that item won't be in short supply.

This shortage isn't only having an immediate impact but a long-term one as well. Some businesses are having to put their redevelopment projects on hold.

Laaper says she's had plans to install a walk-in cooler for the last year. But because of the supply chain shortage, she's had to put those plans on hold. It's not only a shortage in certain products, but a matter of getting that product from A to B.

She says she recently spoke with her distributors who told her it has been difficult hiring truck drivers recently. There aren't enough drivers to deliver goods to retailers which takes a hit at their stock. Laaper says she's hopeful for the issue to be solved quickly and will be ready once the supply is back in stock.

"We're ready to go but they just cannot, anywhere, find the air conditioning units to cool the boxes down," she said. "We've been told it's going to be three to four months before we can get the units in. So I'm ready to go, I've got the box, I've got the space- it's just that last step, again, because of the supply chain."

And Laaper said once she is finally able to install that walk-in cooler, it will certainly help keep customers coming back.