Dear Fellow Homeschooler,
I wanted to personally reach out to share the challenges we — and many other businesses around the world — are continuing to face due to the pandemic.
Over the past year, we have seen extraordinary demand for homeschool products. But, unfortunately, by the time it became evident that homeschooling would be the soup du jour for many families, all that was left were empty pallets and frustrated parents. But if you, like ourselves, assumed that lessons were learned and 2021 would be smoother sailing, then you will be as dismayed as we are to find that 2021 is the second verse in this international folk song.
When the pandemic first hit, homeschool suppliers were reluctant to increase capacity for what they perceived as a short-term bump. But many of our vendors operated with a just-in-time philosophy. This inventory management system wherein the products are produced just before they are needed reduces inventory costs and all associated expenses like storage, heating, and lighting for products that are just sitting. It is a marvelous philosophy until it isn't.
As vendors depleted their supplies, they found themselves struggling to acquire the raw materials to produce more. In addition, because of quarantine protocol, ports were closed or understaffed. This has led to a worldwide imbalance of ocean vessels and containers, ultimately causing a shortage of inventory and a scarcity of resources.
Even while vendors continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and the significant raw material shortages, they have faced limited labor availability, bankruptcy, and just recently, a vendor was held hostage by ransomware. These difficulties have contributed to homeschool product shortages and price increases and, sadly, will continue to do so.
Because of these challenges, we are already seeing price increases from our vendors. For example, in a European toy trade magazine survey, 36% of manufacturers either have done or will be doing mid-year price increases and expect that June and July will be the months with the most price increases.
Rest assured, Timberdoodle will continue to work proactively to ensure competitive pricing and avoid price increases where possible. In addition, we commit to working to stay ahead of these unexpected changes and obstructions, and where necessary, quickly pivoting to find replacement products for those items that are no longer available.
Although we have fully transitioned into our new warehouse and have dramatically expanded our capacity, we encourage you to be mindful of your family's needs and plan accordingly. With the likelihood of continued shortages and supply chain issues, it's essential to purchase the items you need sooner rather than later. In addition, many charter schools place their orders beginning in July. The additional turn-around time these orders incur is one more reason we suggest families order promptly.
We look forward to working with you through this turbulence to deliver the homeschooling curriculum that will cause your children to dance with delight!
Dan and Deb Deffinbaugh
Founders of Timberdoodle Co.