It's not just toilet paper: Seed suppliers having trouble keeping up - InfoNews

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It's not just toilet paper: Seed suppliers having trouble keeping up

At Vancouver based West Coast Seeds business is booming as the company supplies seeds for Kamloops and Okanagan based garden centres.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED /West Coast Seeds Facebook page
April 05, 2020 - 6:00 PM

It’s not only toilet paper that’s in short supply these days as seed suppliers struggle to keep up with demand from so many more people growing their own food while in isolation.

West Coast Seeds General Manager Alex Augustyniak says this is usually a busy time supplying many well-known garden supply retailers in Kamloops and the Okanagan, including Art Knapps in Kelowna and Kamloops, Swan Lake Nursery in Vernon and GardenWorks in Penticton.

“March and April are our heaviest months. This year we are seeing five to seven times the usual orders,” Augustyniak says. “We’re 30 days behind on our orders, and we aren’t normally that far behind.”

The company has refocused on its internet and retail orders.

“It’s tough to get orders out while obeying social distancing protocols. We’ve gone to a 24 hour shift to spread everyone out, so there is a fraction of the people we would normally have in our warehouse,” he says.

Augustyniak says garden centres are going crazy too. He’s had to stop his employees from going into stores after the delivery men were mobbed by people wanting seeds.

“It was like a scene at Costco in the toilet paper aisle. We’re now just delivering to the stores and letting the employees put the shipment away,” he says.

Normally business is made up of 60 per cent of return customers and 40 per cent new, but this year the business make up has reversed, to 60 per cent new and 40 per cent return customers.

“People have decided they are going to try gardening, take the kids and learn to grow, which we think is fantastic. We’re excited that way, but right now it’s tough to keep up with demand,” Augustyniak says.

The company has ‘blown through’ its supply of pre-packaged seeds and is now packaging from bulk stock.

“We’ve exceeded our forecasts,” he says.

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