I have a confession to make: we now have in stock, brand spanking new, custom, Mad Beach Paddle Sports paddle boards, for sale to the public. Why should you care? Why should this be of interest to you? Because it's 2020, and there's always a story to go along with the freak show that is the Covacalypse. It's been dang hard to buy a SUP this year! Why is that?
What me and my family now call the 2020 Death and Destruction Tour the polite people in the media call a global pandemic. The infection rate continues to climb and unemployment is rampant. There's protests in the streets over systemic racism, mask requirements and election results. In the midst of this turmoil, news outlets across the country have sounded the alarm on an unintended consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Fox News Business, 76% of Americans have averaged a weight gain of 16 pounds since the shut-down, and 63% of Americans surveyed after the shut-down was lifted have admitted that they are now prioritizing weight loss to counteract the gains they incurred during the early days of the crisis.
Which brings me back to my original question. Why is it so hard to find outdoor equipment, or any exercise equipment, these days?
For those of us @madbeachpaddlesports, the answer was not immediately clear. We have always strived to offer the best equipment possible to our guests. To that end, we typically purchase new stock about once a year and sell our used inventory. Our goal is twofold. First, to offer our customers the best, and, secondly, to sell our used stock while it's still in great shape to avoid unpleasant customer calls after the sale. Pretty straightforward plan, don't you think?
In 2019 one of our most reliable vendors was running a sale, specifically, offering free shipping, which was HUGE. We get wholesale pricing but the shipping was no joke: 14 foot box, anyone? So, even though it hadn't yet been a year, we jumped on it and placed our order. Fast forward to 2020. The pandemic is upon us and though we hadn't been shut down yet, the writing was on the wall. We start our hard push to sell our used boards. Unlike previous years, it's a breeze. What used to take weeks now take mere days. In fact, there's such a demand that we buy even more SUPS to resell at a modest profit.
Welcome to Spring Break 2020. The weather is perfection. This is our month. Our money month. The month I have to remind my partner about come September and we're twiddling our thumbs. Since, dear reader, you lived through it, you know where I'm going. Like the rest of the country, we're shut down. To keep our heads above water and the staff on the payroll, we start selling our inventory, confident that when the pandemic is over, we can restock and move on.
When we are allowed to reopen, I place a replenishment order with my fave vendor and they go silent. Crickets, man. I order with another vendor that we've used before only to find that they didn't receive the stock they had hoped for and were no longer selling to wholesalers. Hoped for? Wha? So, I call my third vendor, my backup, the-boards-are-decent-I-can-live-with-them-vendor. No reply. Nothing. This stings on a personal level as I thought we were friends. He grew up in the same town as I did in Cali. (Ok. Yes. I did have a mini fantasy that surfer dude and and I would hook up but that's not the point of this post. Focus, people!)
Having received no explanation for these shortages, I did what many people do and turned to the internet. (Because, ya know, if it's on the internet, it must be true.) The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on June 26, 2020 that the, "Coronavirus shut down outdoor gear factories across the U.S. and Asia for months." Speaking to the issue of sporting equipment shortages, Scott Yule, of Fitness Showrooms in Long Island, NY, said, "It's across the board. It's everything...I've been doing this for 23 years and there's nothing to compare it to." (Newsday, 8/11/20) Poppy Nour of the Guardian noted, "It looks like workout equipment in the new toilet paper." (June 11, 2020)
Bored yet? I'm getting there! Stay with me! The bottom line is that many companies, afraid of the financial impact of the pandemic, placed reduced orders. Add to that the spike in demand for anything that can get people outdoors, and you have a recipe for finding yourself at a big box store wondering if you should buy the cheap inflatable SUP, knowing you're going to have to pump it up every time you use it. For those of you still awake, the conclusion is this: nobody bought enough, out of fear. Then everyone wanted something, out of fear. Except, @madbeachpaddlesports, BECAUSE I SPENT THE LOCKDOWN DRINKING AND SHOPPING LIKE A NORMAL PERSON, and had custom boards manufactured that are badass and the best we've ever had. It took me six months and copious amounts of Tequila, but they're here and they're beautiful! And, if you want one and you live locally, you're in luck. And if you want one and you live out of state, you can still buy one but you have to pay for shipping. (14' box :)
I'll leave you on this note. Don't make decisions out of fear. (I know, that is HILARIOUS!) Lastly, the best quote I've read during this whole crazy year is from Darren Bush, of @rutabagapaddlesports, in Morona, WI. "Business is just life, with accounting." Damn, Darren. You're a sage.
Be safe, everybody. And buy a board!