Images of stationary container ships in ports around the world amid serious supply chain issues have consumers and business owners scrambling for what is now the busiest of holiday shopping season .

Consumers have to wonder if what they want is still in stock and if it will be delivered on time, adding to the stress of the season.

And it’s not like businesses don’t have any problems. Many problems for local granite state artisans include finding materials for their wares, shipping materials like boxes, and even the shipping itself. These challenges have become as much of a problem as getting orders.

Since recent global supply chain issues don’t appear to be resolved anytime soon, workarounds are being designed so that friends and loved ones can receive their holiday gifts.

“I see the freighters news, and I’m kidding about it – yes, some of the stuff I ordered is out there in the middle of the ocean,” Karen Steuer, owner of Hemlock Springs Soaps told Lyndeborough. “But this is something you have to seriously think about.”

This is what New Hampshire artisans and women craftsmen – such as carpenters, candle makers, pottery makers and their brethren – do. Being primarily one-person operations, it is imperative that they anticipate, and today’s landscape makes planning all the more important.

Hemlock Springs Soaps of Steuer, which produces soaps and lotions, had some supply chain issues throughout the pandemic. Now, however, she encounters even more roadblocks.

“Until recently, the only shortages I had encountered were packaging,” she said. “A lot of the products I use are made in China. It is only recently, over the past couple of months, that I am now experiencing supply chain issues with the oils I use.

So Steuer had to “get by”, as she put it. If it appears that her usual oil supplier is absent or it will take too long to reach her, she will look elsewhere.

When she finds what she needs, she buys in bulk.

“I double my packaging order, I double the ingredients, I order additional scents,” said Steuer, who has been making and selling soaps for over 20 years, but only the last six full-time. “Instead of a pound of lavender oil, my last order I bought five pounds.”

Jillian Fisher, owner of Red Fern Pottery in Pelham, also had to anticipate. And it worked for her even though she buys up to four times what she normally orders.

Fisher gets his glaze, or pottery paint, from Amaco, a pottery supply website. She ordered 20 pints – up from her usual order of 4 or 5 – just before prices jumped from $ 11 to $ 16 and before the website posted a six to eight week back order. .

“Some distributors have shut down their websites completely and are no longer taking orders because they just can’t fill them,” said Fisher, who primarily sells their clay kitchen products like spoon rests, mugs, tea cups, oil dispensers, serving bowls, etc. at farmers’ markets and fairs.

“A lot of the products that I have noticed are starting to become scarce,” she added. “Some colors that are gaining popularity and that I use quite frequently are sold out, so I have to place a big order (in order to have it). Pottery takes so long to produce so I can’t wait for a product to ship.

And it’s not just high material costs that are forcing Fisher to source. She gets her clay in Braintree, Mass., An hour’s drive with no traffic. So, to make the trip worth the rising cost of gasoline, she recently packed her car with 1,000 pounds of clay instead of her normal 250-pound order, to make the trip profitable.

Paul Silberman, owner of NH Bowl & Board in Contoocook, not only battles with all the other small businesses for boxes and shipping materials, but he has been forced to compete with construction companies and contractors for acquire wood to manufacture its products.

“It started when the loggers didn’t go into the woods in March, April and May 2020,” he explained. “Soon we started fighting for lumber from the sawmills with the builders. It’s hard to compete with.

“And I was scared to death about the boxes. I order more than I need. I’m afraid I will run out of boxes and UPS will stop taking boxes. So I try to do it as soon as possible.

MEA Originals owner Mary Ellen Angelo creates custom hand-sewn items like quilts, napkins, pot holders, cat toys, aprons and more at Keene. Selling most of her products through fairs, special orders, and consignment stores, she has not encountered any shipping issues.

She has been lucky, she said, to have been able to obtain most of the materials she needs from suppliers such as New England Fabrics in Keene, JoAnn Fabrics and Franks Bargain Center in Claremont. The problems she’s encountered are fewer places to sell her products, like fairs and open houses, and the cost of materials exceeds what she can do at consignment stores.

“I just did an open studio (in mid November)… I noticed that less people have come out, but they seem to be serious about buying,” Angelo said, “I think they worry that something they buy on the internet might not be delivered on time and they want a back-up. Christmas items sell well. People buy cautiously – they spend money but take more time to to buy.

Knowing how difficult the past two years have been for local business owners, as well as recent struggles to secure products, has only cemented Brenda Adams Bell’s feelings about buying from small businesses across the country. New Hampshire.

“I’m definitely doing more local shopping this (holiday season),” said Bell, of Henniker. “I have always supported my local vendors, duty free days, special events and buy local days. I want to see them survive this. They are the ones who need our help the most.

Bell appreciates the uniqueness of the products of local artisans and craftswomen. She knows it’s a lot harder than browsing the many options of a big box store or the ease of a few clicks on a computer.

“I have always preferred to buy local and / or from small businesses,” she explained. “The gifts are more unique, the quality is better, the service is better, and the shopping experience is above chain and big box stores.”

“While I remain committed to doing what I have always done, the added burden of supply chain issues just means that I will plan ahead and be more patient when my favorite sellers have to. struggling to fulfill orders. “

This article is shared by a partner of The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborationnh.org.

This article is shared by a partner of The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborationnh.org.