URBANDALE, Iowa — Amid a line of empty storefronts, there’s one that’s too full. Rather than empty shelves, there are boxes on the floor.
“We ran out of space!” says Kym Howe, owner of The Learning Post toy store in Urbandale.
Double the Doink-Its, piles of Pop-Its, and they don’t just have the Heebie Jeebies, they’ve got extra.
“Everybody around us knows what’s going on,” Howe says, “they can see it, they can feel it.”
Wait — we’ve become accustomed to seeing empty shelves, signs that say “out of stock.” Can we learn a thing or two from the Learning Post?
“We started thinking about Christmas way before anybody else did,” Howe explains, “because our manufacturers started telling us they were running out of product.”
Kym Howe says she heard the first warning last January and thought it was jumping the gun, but…
“(The suppliers) were all saying it. ‘We’re gonna run out, and when we do, what we get is gonna be more expensive, so get it now.'”
So she did — and the orders began coming in daily…and didn’t stop…and pretty soon…
“The store looked great,” Howe laughs, “but now we have boxes everywhere.”
Turns out there’s a good thing about being located in a half-empty strip mall. Extra room is right next door.
“We started talking with the landlord about maybe borrowing some space that’s not being used right now,” Howe says, walking through a once-empty shop two doors down. It’s now filled with her backstock. By the end of summer, this too was full.
But the warnings didn’t stop. “Backlog at the ports. Shortage of truck drivers. Prices going up.” So…
“We went back to the landlord and said ‘we might need a little bit more space, just until Christmas.’”
Meet Learning Post annex number TWO! And now it’s nearly full.
Pity poor Gordon Cox, who has to unload all of Howe’s orders.
“Well sometimes I ask her if she maybe held her finger on the key a little too long,” he laughs.
It’s no easy task to locate one box in the sea of cardboard.
“There’s a system, there’s a system.”
Gordon says there’s a system.
“Sometimes it may not look like it, but there is.”
It’s no laughing matter — we’ve been told that retail is doomed. Profits are ONline and stock is OFFshore, but here, we’re reminded of the advantages of shopping in person.
After 19 months that NO business could prepare for, there’s one that seems as ready as ever.
“It’s just all kind of worked out,” Howe smiles.
Leave it to a place called The Learning Post to teach us all a lesson.