Another Broken Link in the Supply Chain (or, Get Used to Waiting for Everything, You’ll Be Doing It from Now On)

At the beginning of the pandemic, panic-buying cleared out a lot of stores. I’ll never forget walking into the grocery store and seeing the produce department stripped clean, not a leaf, stem, or seed in sight. That was not a good feeling, and it clued me in that COVID-19 was not going to be a Hands Across America kind of thing but more like Thunderdome.

And here we are more than two years later, and the supply chains are still painfully broken. They can’t build homes and apartments as quickly as we need them, the number of new cars that can be built is limited – I could go on, but you already know. You can see examples almost everywhere. Many things continue to be in short supply.

Like, for instance, woodworking benches.

What? How can there be a shortage of woodworking benches?

I wish I had an answer to that, but I do not. Because I ordered a workbench and was informed a few days ago that it’s on “back order.” I asked what that meant in terms of wait time, and I could almost hear them laughing through the email.

No one knows when anything will be anywhere.

Why on earth am I buying a workbench?

Well, look at it, it’s beautiful.

workbench

Big deal, I know, a wood table. Whoopee! But I haven’t had a good workbench in years, so this was an indulgence.

But why is it back ordered? Probably because it is coming from the town of PĂ­sek in the Czech Republic. Did you know they’ve been building workbenches in that town for hundreds of years? Of course you didn’t, and neither did I, but now we both know.

Sure, I could have bought an American-made woodworking bench. There are a few really high-quality joints that would be happy to send one my way. But The American benches come with American price tags, and I can’t spend two or three thousand dollars on a wood table.

I’ll tell you something, I had zero intention of buying any workbench made anywhere. My intention was to get some 2x4s and a couple sheets of plywood and knock one together myself. But guess what? That’s right! The supply chain strikes again!

The plywood I wanted isn’t available around here (nor is any decent plywood, really), and I don’t have a truck to go try to find it down the hill. And did you know an 8-foot 2×4 costs more than four dollars?!

A 2×4.

One.

I think the last time I bought 2x4s, which wasn’t long before the pandemic, they were $1.49. And the plywood prices! If I could find it, a good quality sanded 4×8′ sheet is $45! Not to mention fasteners and a top of some kind. Everything is brutally expensive.

Which means a humble, knock-it-together workbench would have cost about $200 to make. About a third of what the Czech workbench cost. And for me, that’s close enough to make me doubt that it would be better to do it myself. I decided it was not since outfitting my DIY workbench with two woodworking vices and metal clamping dogs that the Ramia bench comes with would have raised the price closer to $350.

So now I just wait. Like we’re all waiting for something.

But one of my probably-not-so-secret price savings tactics worked when buying the bench. It works in about one out of four larger purchases, so give it a try. Find what you’re looking for on a few different sites, then set up accounts (so they have your email address – that’s a key point) and put your item in your cart at each site.

Then close all the browser tabs and wait.

I did that for the workbench, and about a week later, one of the sites sent me an email. “Hey, if you want the item in your cart, here’s free shipping.” Shipping for the workbench was $100, so yes, please! I saved about 15% of what the total would have been by simply waiting.

There’s my gift to you. It won’t usually result in a $100 savings (depending on what you’re buying, of course), but you may just get something in return for waiting.

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