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Local furniture industry striving toward normalcy

Furniture stores in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties are still regaining their footing as they navigate pandemic-related issues.

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. — Various industries are still feeling the impacts of pandemic-related obstacles like supply chain issues and inflation. 

Furniture stores in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties are still regaining their footing as they navigate these issues.

“A lot of people are scared with the COVID and stuff coming out and they’re kind of holding onto their money. The economy’s kind of in the dumps right now so they’re kind of holding onto just buying the necessities right now instead of doing a lot of decorating or stuff like that in the moment," said Grubb's furniture store owner Adam Arant.

He says sales peaked around the same time the pandemic did, with many people looking to upgrade their homes while spending more time indoors. Since then, things have slowed down.

It's also been a challenge getting materials overseas.

“Definitely prices are off the chain right now. I mean this lumber and stuff, the leathers we put on or have stuff made. Leathers are harder to get. A lot of that stuff is imported and the other countries that the United states have been getting it from are just delayed," said Arant.

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From Calhoun to Orangeburg where Kimbrell's furniture store is located, manager Wyonette Stites says slowly but surely strides are being made toward normalcy.

“Before the pandemic, I could normally order something and get it back within two weeks. When the pandemic hit, it could be two weeks to six months so now things through every manufacturer is starting to flow regularly. I’m getting more trucks each week," said Stites.

Claflin University's dean of the school of business Dr. Nicholas Hill says having a strategy in place amid unprecedented circumstances could help businesses retain profit.

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“Those companies that have the best strategies associated with moving and pivoting from just in time type delivery methods to maybe holding it off to just in case. Finding other companies that can source their material, they’ll be more successful coming through," said Hill.

He says the Inflation Reduction Act helps ease some of these supply chain woes by saving money on costs associated with transportation and shipping. As for when things will go back to normal and stay that way, Hill says only time will tell.

“We should see things come back to normalcy. However, if other supply shocks incur in the market, we’ll have the same level of disruption that these companies are facing during the pandemic and even now," said Dr. Hill.

Hill explains, minority-owned small businesses have been among some of the hardest hit by these issues.

"Because of the fact that a lot of times there's not as many connections to suppliers globally, for minority firms they have hard times getting resource availability," he said.

“Help these local businesses stay around because it’s very important to try and buy local when you can," said Arant.

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