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Appliance stores running out of freezers during pandemic

UPDATED: Tue., May 12, 2020

Fred’s Appliance, shown here in 2007, has recently sold out of freezers during a sales run at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The stores, which typically sell 200 freezers, sold 800 in March and supply chain disruptions have made it difficult to restock them, a company spokesman said. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Fred’s Appliance, shown here in 2007, has recently sold out of freezers during a sales run at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The stores, which typically sell 200 freezers, sold 800 in March and supply chain disruptions have made it difficult to restock them, a company spokesman said. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A store that prides itself on having the appliances that customers need has run out of freezers and the supply chain disruption has made it difficult to replace the equipment that has been sold.

Fred’s Appliance had a run on freezers just as the coronavirus pandemic hit, and disruptions in China factories where they are built have made it difficult to replace them, assistant general manager Ryan Holzapple said Tuesday.

“They just can’t make them fast enough,” Holzapple said. “We usually sell about 200 a month. In March, we sold 800.”

Best Buy in north Spkane is suffering a similar shortage, customer service employee Ian Hammeren said.

“Our freezers are sold out, and I haven’t had any in for quite a while,” Hammeren said. “I have no way of honestly knowing” when the freezers will be restocked.

At Fred’s, the store locations in Spokane, Spokane Valley and Coeur d’Alene have been taking orders and putting customers on a waiting list, Holzapple said.

“They are slowly, randomly, trickling in. We get 10 to 15 companywide, and they are gone before they even get here,” he said. “What’s really unfortunate are the people who actually need them.”

He said much of the sales spike appeared to be for customers who already had freezers but thought they needed a second based on panic shopping at grocery stores.

“Some of the freezers are made in Mexico,” Holzapple said. “All the very small chest freezers are made in China. There are obviously some supply chain issues there. Some manufacturers were shut down or had gone to minimal staff. That’s why they can’t make them.”

A call to Home Depot in Spokane was directed to corporate offices in Atlanta. A manager from Lowe’s in north Spokane did not return a call seeking comment about that store’s supply of freezers.

Other than the run on freezers, Holzapple said Fred’s still has most of the other items in stock.

“Freezers are the only thing that is 100% sold out,” he said. “It’s a bummer.”

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