Supply chain issues mean Colorado’s vast outdoor produce market is more expensive, stuck on boats, and even different

Greg Fisher scans the inventory in the Wheel Pros supply warehouse in Denver. October 27, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty / Denverite

There are currently millions of dollars in camping gear and clothing stranded on ships in a port. That’s a big part of why the Kelty company, known for its backpacks and sleeping bags, will be raising prices later this month.

Global supply chain issues create big headaches for businesses – and for buyers who face long waits and higher prices.

No industry has been spared, and that includes the vast market for outdoor recreation equipment. Colorado residents should be prepared to pay a little more for equipment when they head to the mountains for the foreseeable future.

Russ Rowell oversees Kelty and a number of other exterior brands for Broomfield-based Exxel Outdoors. He said retailers need to absorb some of the recent shockwaves in order to keep prices manageable.

“If we were to convey the full extent of the impact… I don’t think consumers would camp more,” Rowell said.

Starting November 15, the price of a Kelty camping chair will drop from $ 109 to $ 139, he said.

Making a supply chain bottling

The stalemate began with an increase in demand for goods from people trapped at home during the pandemic, according to Randy White, CEO of Wheel Pros, a Greenwood Village-based company that designs and manufactures specialty wheels, including those used. on Jeeps and SUVs for off-road driving.

The supply chain problems have only worsened, he said.

“It’s like once someone puts the brakes on in traffic and all of a sudden hundreds of cars are backed up on I-70… It’s a chain reaction all the way through. system, ”White said.

The network that gets things from point A to point B is a global network of ports and highways, ships, trucks and airplanes. And, of course, the people. There are countless ways that things can go wrong. But until recently, things mostly went where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.

These days, there are hiccups at every step. For example, a case of COVID-19 could close a port in Asia. Finally, it opens again and the ships leave, but when they arrive in the United States, the ports are blocked. In addition to this, there may not be enough workers to move the cargo after it is unloaded.

It can start with just getting goods aboard a ship, according to Steve Hoogendoorn, co-founder of Yeti Cycles, a mountain bike maker in Golden. His shop reserved space on a ship that never materialized.

“They call them ghost crossings, when they just don’t show up,” Hoogendoorn said.

The time it takes to get a shipment from Asia to his workshop in Golden has quadrupled, and it can be up to four months, he said.

Shipping costs are skyrocketing because everyone is desperate to get their products and are forced to pay whatever it takes. Before the pandemic, it cost between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000 to get a container from Asia, according to White. In September, it was $ 15,000, he said.

Now even products have to adapt

The different heists even change the products themselves.

Dave Bombard owns Bishop, a two-person Edwards company that hand-builds bindings for telemark skiing. It’s a complex process, involving around 60 parts, Bombard said. For a critical component, Bombard used a particular thickness of sheet metal.

“This is the part that basically holds the boot… it’s kind of the key. This part holds the heel of the boot to the binding, ”he said.

He ended up having to rethink the binding when his supplier told him he wasn’t going to get the material in time for the winter. Bombard has increased its prices by 10 percent.

Bishop also designs skis. A worrying sign of the duration of the problems, Bombard recently learned that it is expected to cut next year’s ski order by 20% due to the potential for ongoing equipment shortages.

Yeti’s Hoogendorn says his company is considering ways to source more in the country.

“The easiest way to solve this problem is for demand to drop, for us to stop buying so many products… from Asia,” he said.

The problems in the supply chain extend far beyond outdoor equipment. Prices are going up everywhere, from groceries to the gas station. The supply chain isn’t the only source of inflation, but it definitely makes matters worse.

Rowell of Exxel said his company has waited as long as it can to raise prices, especially because camping is seen as an affordable vacation option. As everything gets so expensive, some families have tough choices when it comes to money.

“They’re not going to spend it on camping supplies when they have to buy milk,” Rowell said.


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