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'Desks Are The New Toilet Paper;' Needed Furniture For Makeshift Home Classrooms, Offices Sold Out

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- An apparent shortage of desks and tables in the Bay Area has families scouring stores and emptying shelves, in search of ways to construct makeshift classrooms and offices in their homes during the pandemic lockdown, now entering its seventh month.

"All desks are sold out so it's really hard to get a desk nowadays," said parent Teyhla Brown while shopping at IKEA in East Palo Alto.

A check of store inventory at Target on Coleman Avenue in San Jose, Walmart in Mountain View, and IKEA in East Palo Alto, all revealed either low stock or no items in stock at all, for desks, folding tables, chairs, stools, and bookcases.

Brown had been shopping for weeks, even driving two hours to Sacramento, in search of an IKEA desk, which she finally found in East Palo Alto Tuesday. Brown said she had been making do until now.

"I've kind of just like improvised, so using my dining room table, sitting on the floor using a coffee table. Going to library, things like that," said Brown.

Social media has been flooded with images of children and adults sitting at dining room tables, conducting Zoom calls on TV tray tables, sharing folding tables in kitchens, and utilizing storage closets as makeshift offices.

The family of Kailynn Lee had to wait in line at IKEA 6 a.m. on Saturday to purchase a desk.

"It's really good, because I used to do my Zooms in my bed. But now I have a desk where I can do my Zooms," said Lee.

Victoria Lim, based in Southern California, had been scouring Amazon, Facebook Market Place, Craigslist, in addition to all the big box stores. Stock was sold out, with estimated shipmates of October and beyond.

"Desks are the new toilet paper," said Lim, "Affordable desks, were just nowhere to be found and we had no idea what we were going to do. I just kept looking and looking and looking."

Lim's father stepped in, constructing a custom desk for his grandson out of old cabinetry. The new "up-cycled" desk took two days to build and suits the family's needs perfectly.

"I definitely think the theme of 2020 now is work with what you got," said Lim.

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