Local businesses consolidate due to supply chain issues

CAVE SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A local business that has been in northwest Arkansas for decades is closing one of its storefronts.

Lewis and Clark Outfitters said supply chain issues are to blame. The Springdale location will keep its doors open, but they’ve moved everything from their store to Rogers.

Rob Potts is co-owner and president of Lewis and Clark Outfitters. The family business started with the dream of bringing people together through outdoor activities and its loyal customer base shows that it is succeeding.

“Over the years we hear stories of people coming in and saying, ‘hey, you saved my marriage, you saved my relationship with my family, or I had nothing to do with my teenagers and they didn’t want nothing to do with me, but now they do,” Potts said. “So that’s one of the things that really drives us forward.”

Potts said their suppliers are so overwhelmed that they can’t get enough product to stock the shelves of their Rogers store. He said bike suppliers were a year behind.

“We’ve seen a lot of change in retail over the past 20 years,” Potts said. “The last two, they’ve changed as much as the previous 18.”

However, shelving storage issues are nothing new. Mervin Jeberaj, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, said many things contribute to supply chain issues.

“So last year we had supply chain issues, and that’s all due to the pandemic,” Jeberaj said. “Today we have supply chain issues. Still somewhat pushed by the pandemic.

Jeberaj also said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s shutdown of major industrial production due to COVID-19 are other issues.

Another factor hampering the global supply chain is the amount of stuff we buy, versus the money we spend on experiences. Jeberaj said this change was also driven by the pandemic.

“Our economy and our supply chains weren’t designed to allow us to buy so many things as they were designed to handle those who do things,” Jeberaj said.

Jeberaj said we haven’t gotten past the pandemic far enough to know whether investing in shipping capacity will be worth it, and until those factors go away or shipping capacities are increased, there will be more companies like Lewis and Clark Outfitters that will have to make changes.

“You’ll change everything you do, and then the market will change again, and you’ll have to change again,” Potts said.

Lewis and Clark Outfitters is also looking for satellite locations for its Benton County customers.

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