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Stores are scrambling to stock shelves in time for Christmas. Local retailers say creativity goes a long way

King Arthur's Court.jpg
Ann Thompson
There are a few things King Arthur's Court is having trouble getting in stock. Manager/Buyer Rob Kearney has been able to substitute them with similar items.

At BlaCk OWned Outerwear, Co-Owner Means Cameron is surrounded by boxes. He just got a shipment in and expects others this week. He thinks he has enough retail to last through Black Friday. Then he will have to restock.

“The hardest thing right now is the shipping times," he says. "You know, it’s taking a lot longer for things to get here.”

Cameron must be careful not to overcommit since he doesn’t know how the pandemic is going to play out and what continued effect it will have on suppliers.

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BlaCK OWned Outerwear Co-Owner Means Cameron has gotten one shipment for his store at 9th and Elm and expects others this week.

But Cameron has pivoted to meet the supply need and gives himself an extra three weeks for shipping. He also owns the business next door, BlaCk Coffee Lounge.

He would even like to hire more people, but that’s a problem.

“We’ve adjusted and that’s what all of this is about. But some of those higher positions where you may want someone in a marketing department or to add a manager or someone to actually manage the space, that’s become a challenge.”

When it comes to toys, parents and grandparents are realizing you can’t wait. At Oakley’s King Arthur’s Court the Christmas shopping season used to start in the middle of November. But Manager/Buyer Rob Kearney says some people were done by October 1.

Customers are concerned about shortages. Kearney tells them not to panic but not to procrastinate, either.

He has had supply issues. “So, if a vendor tells us we can’t get some items to you or if we’re told don’t do any orders until February, which has happened with some things, we’re able to say those guys have something similar and we’re able to bring that stuff in.”

But Kearney feels more fortunate than a big box store that “deals with a lot of corporate inertia and all the red tape. We just deal with the man in the red suit!”

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology