Forget How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This year, the holiday classic is replaced by How The Supply Chain Stole Christmas.

Instead of Mr. Grinch whisking all the presents up to his mountain lair, gifts are stashed out at sea. With just a few shopping days left until Christmas, last-minute shoppers could be in for a shock.

“Business is good. The only thing is some of the products we’re supposed to have haven't arrived yet, due to transportation,” the manager of Christmas Palace said. “Demand is there, the only thing is, it isn’t available.”

COVID continues to disrupt production around the world, and international disputes only add to the woes. Many of the gifts that have been made will never see the inside of stockings that have been hung by the chimney with care. A massive backlog at ports on both U.S. coasts left hundreds of cargo ships waiting to pull in and unload their goods.

Locally owned and operated businesses depend on the holiday season as their busiest, and most profitable, time of the year. Shopping locally not only keeps dollars in the community, it also lets customers touch, smell, and taste the gifts, candles, and candies they will give to loved ones. Handpicking gifts makes it extra special, but at some places, like Christmas Palace, pickings are slim… and expensive.

“What is coming in is costing a fortune.”

One place with a little bit of everything is To The Moon on Wilton Drive.

“So far it’s going great. December is the busiest month of the year for us,” owner Anthony Dumas said. “We transform the whole store, putting out all the edibles, all the greeting cards, all the ornaments and anything else holiday-related.”

To The Moon is packed floor to ceiling with an eclectic mix of toys, cards, edibles, and ornaments.

“For us, the hottest stuff for the holidays is the ornaments. We carry about 1,000 ornaments. The entire ceiling is covered in them for every genre, for every age group.”

But even with a steady stream of loyal regulars and tourists discovering the shop for the first time, Dumas says he and other local merchants feel the online markets breathing down their neck.

“Shopping online is killing the small guy, so you won’t see any businesses. You can sit at home on the computer and order online, but you don’t know what the quality is.”

When it comes to stocking To The Moon, Dumas practices what he preaches.

“I don’t order through catalogs for the store. I go to trade shows all around the world because I want to see the product, feel the product.”

Over at Christmas Palace, big sellers are big nutcrackers. They’ve sold a lot of giant figurines you’ll have to carry in longways because they’re too tall to fit through the door. Floral decorations are also hot this year. And if they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, they try to find the next best thing.

“If a customer is looking for a specific tree, we’ve been able to find them something comparable. Other than that it’s hard.”

And it’s especially hard on small businesses.

“They want what they want. If they don’t see it, they’ll go somewhere else.”

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