Monday, December 07, 2009

Lights Out

Went out at lunch today to pick up a couple of more strings to complete this year's outdoor Christmas light display, which went up on Saturday. First stop was at Menards, where I've often purchased Christmas lights in the past. They appeared to be all out of "normal" lights with only a small selection of special (and expensive) collectible light options available. I checked with the help and they confirmed that's all that remained of their stock. Hmmm...

Okay, no problem. I can just run over to Home Depot. I'm sure they'll have Christmas lights. Again, after some fruitless searching I came up empty handed. I picked up some windshield washer fluid and when I checked out I asked the clerk if they had any more lights.

"Nope, that's it. They really went fast this year."

They really went fast this year? I didn't realize the supply was so limited. Was there a poor light harvest? Did the Obama Administration impose limits on the importation of Chinese Christmas lights? Was there an unexpected surge in local demand for lights? Do no other stores in the Twin Cities have excess lights that could be transferred to these depleted locations? How about the rest of Minnesota or other nearby states? Is the entire country stocked out of Christmas lights?

We can ship products from one end of the world to the other in a few days. We have the most advanced supply chain planning tools at our disposal. And you're telling me that EIGHTEEN days before Christmas we're all out of Christmas lights with no hope of getting any more? Thousands of the allegedly best and brightest minds in the entire world are getting together in Copenhagen this week to talk about how we're going to change the weather a hundred years from now and we can't even figure out how to have enough Christmas lights available on store shelves almost three weeks before Christmas Day.

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