GREAT FALLS — Let’s Play Games & Toys in downtown Great Falls and the community are gearing up for the holiday season. While the back room at Let's Play might look like they have everything that a kid could want, it's mostly a stockpile of extra stuff they’ve had for almost a year, as they’re having a hard time keeping items on their shelves.
The last few months have been hectic, and many orders are backlogged and have not made it to the shelves despite being ordered months ago.
Owner Nicole Wiegand says the problem was not nearly as bad last year as it is now, but the problem has been around since Covid hit last March.
“The last couple months have been significantly worse but the problem’s actually been about 18 months old, and then the last couple months have just been ridiculous. I’ve got orders I placed in January that I still don’t have all the items from. There are orders I placed in June that I haven’t received anything from,” Wiegand said. “We really started talking about ordering stuff for Christmas in May because we were already seeing issues with our suppliers. Last year, we’d normally have orders within two weeks but that’s not happening at all. We’re lucky if we get it within that time.”
Wiegand says the issue stems from several problems all tied together, like the cargo ship delays in Long Beach, California, and a lack of truck drivers and laborers. She says it all comes together to create one big supply chain issue that she doesn’t see ending anytime soon.
“Another issue is the price of toys and mostly plastic has gone up five to ten percent. A lot more plastic is being used now with masks and face shields and toys have a lot of plastic in them usually,” Wiegand added.
She says business has been good for Let’s Play and their customers are mostly understanding of the dilemma they face, but the issue certainly isn’t making anything easier.
Store employee Neil Tredray has been working at the toy store since this summer and says people understand when the store doesn’t have something they are looking for.
“I mean it’s a little frustrating sometimes just because people will say I want this and we’ve had it on backorder for months and we don’t necessarily know when it’s going to be in,” Tredray said. “That’s tough because we want to help our customers, obviously. We want to fulfill what they’re looking for, and I think people are trying to shop a little earlier. I’ve heard them say, yeah we’re doing our Christmas shopping.”
Wiegand says she isn’t sure what will be on her shelves come Christmas time. Her advice if you see something you might want to get for your kids: grab it while you can.
Let’s Play Games & Toys is located at 514 Central Avenue.