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Supply chain hiccups are causing overstocks, not just shortages

Caroline Champlin Aug 6, 2021
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Supply chain bottlenecks have become the reality recently. While many face shortages, some businesses are benefiting from the opposite: overstock. Chris McGrath via Getty Images

Supply chain hiccups are causing overstocks, not just shortages

Caroline Champlin Aug 6, 2021
Heard on:
Supply chain bottlenecks have become the reality recently. While many face shortages, some businesses are benefiting from the opposite: overstock. Chris McGrath via Getty Images
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Marketplace has covered the missing semiconductors, the rental cars and the tomatoes. But supply chain issues are not all about shortages these days.

Overstock has been a problem in some sectors.

If you need disinfectant, Curtis Greve has got you covered. “We got 20 truckloads of bleach,” he said. Greve is vice president of liquidation for Inmar Intelligence; he buys overstock from retailers and sells it as fast as he can to the secondary market — discount stores, like Ross, TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack.

Greve is the first stop for stores that need to get rid of inventory, and there’s a lot coming in right now.

“We’re drinking out of a fire hose, selling to a guy who has a gallon can, who’s selling to somebody who’s got a cup,” Greve said.

It’s not just bleach. If you’re OK with slightly older maybe cheaper appliances, he’s got them, too. “It’s everything from your coffee makers, microwaves, refrigerators,” Greve said.

Plus, all kinds of home gym stuff that you can now use at the real gym. Also: clothes. Greve’s seen surges of both back-to-work dressy and work-from-home casual.

With pandemic restriction flip flops and lucrative surges in demand, you can’t blame retailers for not knowing what to order, said Dale Rogers, a business professor at Arizona State University.

“This is probably the worst time in the history of the world to be one of those supply chain planning managers,” Rogers said.

And shortages of one product can mean a surplus of something else. “You don’t need a keyboard if you can’t get the computer,” he said.

Luckily, the secondary market is built on the unforeseen, according to Inmar’s Greve.

“I can’t say that I celebrate when there’s a recession or a problem but, financially, we do well. That being said, I wish things would get back to normal,” he said.

Greve said he’s lost his ability to predict what’s coming in and what will sell. On the upside, he was able to find buyers for those 20 truckloads of bleach.

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