High Desert Horror Story | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

High Desert Horror Story

Getting that 'Bend starter kit' of outdoor equipment is tougher this year, with gear shortages happening locally and nationally

What's more traumatic to a Bendite? Ravaged and empty shelves where toilet paper once was, or not knowing when you'll receive that new piece of recreation equipment you ordered months ago?

Resounding concern is mounting for outdoor-related retail items that seem to be condemned to backorder purgatory. Never mind the usual delays industry enthusiasts would experience when ordering pro-deal gear since time immemorial. Now regular full-price retail orders are sold out before they ever make it to the e-commerce shelves. What next? Will this travesty begin to mimic the housing market and we'll have to bid over market value for kayaks, canoes, rafts and the item I am currently seeking: oars (holla at your girl if you got a set of 9.5 foot Sawyers or Carlies you want to unload).

High Desert Horror Story
K.M. Collins
With an uptick in local high desert roller sports, skates or quads have been among the items difficult to obtain during pandemic-related outdoor gear shortages.

A month ago when I was sleeping out of my car and cooking on a propane hibachi every night, it was impossible to find dark green one liter gas canisters anywhere. After checking Bi-Mart and Walmart, I finally found some at a lesser known gas station that doesn't turn product fast. And the price was way jacked up.

National headlines like, "These summer must haves will soon be impossible to find," and "Prepare for another camping gear shortage," are indicating the plot line of a high desert horror story. What will we do without our precious gear?

Even though inflation is at an all time high since 1992, as extrapolated by the Core Consumer Price Index, commodities demand is only increasing.

Supply chain issues fueled by pandemic demand are the root of all, according to The Know, Outdoors, in the Denver Post. "Reasons for the shortages, shop owners say, include production issues in Asia; a shortage of commercial truck drivers; and a backup of massive container ships filled with goods manufactured in Asia that are waiting to be offloaded at West Coast harbors," explains John Meyer of the Denver Post. All this even after the Suez Canal has been unblocked.

Personal testimonials from locals corroborate the traffic jam at the ports. When Ryan Andrews, of Hiatus Homes, wanted to purchase a fishing raft from Flycraft over two months ago, he had no idea he'd be waiting on these delays. After being reassured his raft would finally arrive by the end of the week, he received a last minute bummer email from the rep he purchased from explaining...

"Hi Ryan, I wanted to shoot you off another update on your order. Unfortunately, there's no way for us to find out our status in the line for customs, or any estimates, despite all of our efforts to get an update. After the [shipping] container clears customs we should be able to give you the play by play. This type of delay is something we have never seen before. Unfortunately, the entire country is seeing issues on just about all goods being imported. We are checking for updates hourly and as soon as we have the good news that our container is on the truck, heading our way, we will let you know! Thank you again for your patience."

All this for a total package price tag pushing five digits. Tell it to Andrews' three young daughters who have been roughing it in a canoe and are on the edge of their seat to start rafting.

A recent USA Today article by Jaymie Deerwester found that in addition to recreation equipment of all sorts, goods like roller skates, swimming pools, baking ingredients, ammunition, freezers and Heinz ketchup packets have all been in short order as of late.

K.M. Collins

A native Oregonian, K.M. Collins is a geologist-gone-writer. Covering everything outdoors and a spectrum of journalism, she's a jack of all whitewater sports and her favorite beat is anything river related. Don't blow her cover as a freshwater mermaid amongst humans.
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