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Supply Chain Woes Pressure Bay Area Retailers as Holidays Loom

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Shannon Murray says she's normally a late shopper who waits until Christmas Eve but, this year, she bought some holiday gifts at Nuts for Candy in Burlingame well before Halloween.

Shopping early is smart if you're seeking something specific, according to store owners John and Nora Kevranian.

"In 27 years I have not seen anything like this," John said.

The Kevranians import many specialty products, from plush to puzzles, so they ordered their holiday inventory months early.

"Many of our distributors are sending us letters and saying they're no longer taking orders 'til January," Kevranian said.

So far, the store's only received 15 to 20 percent of their holiday stock, such as advent calendars from Germany.

"Chocolates that come from Germany and Switzerland -- they're sitting on vessels right now unloaded," he added.

And, unlike large retailers, the small shop can't fly them in or hire private shippers.

"It's a very difficult situation," Kevranian said.

Adrienne Appell, senior vice president of marketing and communications of The Toy Association, represents about a thousand toy manufacturers and retailers.

She says the supply chain problems won't end with the holidays.

"In 17 years, I've never seen this perfect storm before," Appell said. "This isn't something that's just going to clear up. It took a long time to happen and it's going to take a while for it to be resolved."

From toys to treats, small businesses developed early recipes to survive the season.

At Feve Chocolates in San Francisco, owner Bryon Sheets is introducing a new holiday cocktail collection.

He and his team planned over the summer to ensure they'd have all the ingredients.

"There's always gonna be a little anxiety about what's around the corner," Sheets explained.

They'd already endured several pandemic and weather-related shortages and had stopped producing their chocolate orange peel candy for months.

"You could not source orange peel out of Italy," Sheets said.

Then, they couldn't make strawberry yogurt almonds.

"We use a couple of different fruits for this -- including raspberry. There's a nationwide shortage of raspberry now in the U.S. so who knew?" Sheets said.

And then ...

"Recently we had a shortage of sugar," he said.

Sheets and his team at Feve make sure to have two to three times more inventory on hand than needed and they line up alternate sources for ingredients and imported packaging materials.

With the holidays generating at least a third of their profits, the small businesses we talked to hope their strategies will produce a sweet season for them and their customers.

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