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'We're Nimble And 'We're Quick': Chicago Shopkeepers Deliver Toys Themselves, Skipping Mail Services

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The most wonderful time of the year means new challenges for local businesses.

The owner of a Chicago toy store tells CBS 2's Tara Molina, she's been forced to take holiday delivery into her own hands.

With a story you'll only see on 2, while it's the most popular time for toys, the store had to change their business model. Changing the business model of a toy store during the holiday season is no easy task. But at Building Blocks, they've rolled with the punches and into their own cars

Tis the season for this toy store owner to load up her own sleigh to avoid this year's shipping and delivery delays.

"We can control that the shipment will get to the customer."

In business here in Chicago for more than 25 years with three stores in the city, toys shopkeeper Katherine Nguyen said she's never seen a holiday season like this one.

"We pride ourselves on being play experts," Nguyen said.

With cost and freight changes, she said they're no longer making money. Everything in the store, with some items, including a number of the Christmas-themed toys?

"It's been incredibly hard. A lot of them are sitting on the water outside of long beach California. We are just waiting for them to come in," Nguyen said.

"As we say around here 'nobody cares on the 26th.'"

The imperfect storm of supply chain issues, staff shortages and shipping delays, forcing them to eliminate a big chunk of their business. No more national shipping. They can't afford the time, risk and possible disappointment.

"Which means we have to take a bit more of the hit, in terms of our sales revenue," Nguyen said.

The holiday hits, after a rough-go through the pandemic. But no crying or pouting here.

"We're nimble and we're quick," she said.

And improvising to recap lost revenue. Making a list, checking it twice, they'll continue to come to town to deliver toy orders themselves. As Katherine hopes their seasonal story Serves as a reminder to shop in-store and small, especially now.

"Our margins are tighter. Businesses like ours are one season away from being threatened into extinction," Nguyen said.

All of this as national companies continue to work to hire seasonal staff. UPS is working to hire 1,200 people locally. FedEx didn't have Chicago-specific information to share, but said it added about 90,000 seasonal job spots nationally.

The United States Postal Service sent CBS 2 this statement:

We are ready!   There is a real excitement throughout the Postal Service.  To prepare for the holidays, we've made substantial investments in our people, equipment and technology to support higher delivery demands and ensure holiday items arrive on time.  We converted 63,000 pre-career employees into career positions in the past fiscal year.  We have added 40,000 seasonal workers nationwide.  Hiring is done on a continuous basis and people interested in working for USPS should go   Job postings are updated frequently, so should check back often for additional opportunities.

We are still hiring but that is continuous beyond our peak season.  We are well staffed for the peak season, no shortages.

Statement from FedEx:

 As online shopping and e-commerce continue to grow, so do the number of packages moving through the FedEx global networks. To help the holidays arrive and deliver the joy our customers are sending throughout the world, we have open positions across the enterprise during this peak season.  FedEx is increasing the power of its workforce in preparation for another busy holiday season, by adding 90,000 positions nationwide. In addition to the holiday season, FedEx has ramped up its recruiting efforts throughout the year to support our network expansion and the growth of e-commerce. FedEx Express and FedEx Ground both offer the opportunity for seasonal workers to stay on throughout the year based on business needs.


UPS continues to hire for nearly 1200 seasonal employees in the Chicago area to support the annual increase in package volume ahead of the holidays. Nationally, UPS expects to hire over 100,000 seasonal employees, following the company's announcement in September. 

With hiring needs at an all-time high nationwide, UPS commissioned the 2021 Peak Hiring Survey which includes the following reasons for taking a temporary job:

  • Nearly a third said they wanted to get ahead or catch up on household bills/expenses
  • 30% pointed to holiday expenses coming up as their prime motivator
  • More than a quarter take on a seasonal position to create an emergency savings fund or to gain experience and build up their resume

UPS continues to hire for package handlers, driver helpers and personal vehicle drivers.

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