The Great Boot Shortage

NaBloPoMo14DayTwentyFourGiven that she will be living out this winter (and, if all goes well, the next several winters) in Vermont, we decided that it might be a good idea to send Fangette back after Thanksgiving break with a pair of snow boots. We try to be good parents, at least where foul weather gear is involved. Plus, we want her to be able to get to class. I don’t want to hear any bullshit about how she couldn’t make it through the snow because she only has “cute” boots. She needed something more utilitarian than cute.

About a month ago I asked her to choose a pair from the L.L. Bean website. We went back and forth about it. God love her, she was trying to save me money. I told her that I didn’t care about saving a few bucks on a pair of boots that carried a Lifetime Guarantee. I just wanted her to be feet to be warm and dry.

She kept dragging her heels. I kept hounding her. Finally, she agreed that we would go to the local L.L. Bean store when she was home from school this week. (Having never owned a pair of L.L. Bean boots, she wanted to try them on in person.) It wasn’t a bad idea. I didn’t think that waiting until the end of November would be a big deal.

Do I even need to tell you that it was a very big deal? Of course it was. Would you like to know why? Because L.L. Bean has almost NO boots left in their inventory — not in the store, not online, not in the catalog. It’s not even officially winter yet! When do these outdoorsy types purchase their snow boots? August?

The gentleman who was doing his level best to put my daughter into a pair of snow boots today informed us that she could have her boot of choice if she was willing to wait until the end of February — February of 2015. He told me that “the great boot shortage” occurs every year. He said this as if it was something that every little schoolboy should know. (Obviously the outdoorsy types DO know this.)

What I wanted to know, not being an outdoorsy type my own self, was how a company as reputable as I’ve always found L.L. Bean to be did not solve their annual limited inventory problem by, oh, I don’t know, manufacturing MORE boots? His answer? All of L.L. Bean’s boots are made in America.

Seriously. This was his answer. I was about to point out to him that he might want to keep that information under his crushable waterproof hiking hat, but he wasn’t finished. He went on to proudly explain to me that all L.L. Bean boots are hand sewn right here in America. In an effort to appeal to my obvious patriotism, he asked me if I wanted L.L. Bean to farm out the hand-sewing of their boots to, say, China?

Without missing a beat I arched my brow and said, “Would that solve the problem?” Flustered, he sputtered something like “Maybe.” I let him know that I understood that this would create other problems for his company, but I wondered aloud if, perhaps, the solution to the annual dearth of available winter boots for a company widely known for such a product, might not lie in shipping the work overseas, but, rather, in hiring enough workers right here in the good old USA to keep up with the demand for said fine product?

He went on to tell me that the company had just recently hired 125 workers. No doubt this is just the type of management decision that will be responsible for the buttload of boots that will enter the marketplace in late February of 2015, but it won’t help anyone now — and by anyone I really mean us “late to the party” decidedly NON-outdoorsy types. I told him that they should have hired 250 workers back in July. This is when he decided to check something in the back room.

I’m no Economist, but this idea seems like it should have occurred to someone at L.L. Bean before I had to come up with it today. Me, the waitress. Me, the consumer. Me, who knows little to nothing about how business works. I’m just a woman who puts on an apron and serves food to idiots all day.

As many of you may know, I’ve been looking to change careers. I’m toying with the idea of writing to the folks at L.L. Bean — offering them my services. Clearly they are in need of someone who will help them to effectively use the American worker and, in turn, make “The Great Boot Shortage of 2014” the last of its kind.

Let me just mention that my daughter did acquire a pair of boots. They were not the color she wanted. They were not the height she wanted. They were also almost twice the price of the basic boots that were her first choice. We had a coupon, though, so that was good. Also good? I will probably own a pair of slightly used 10″ sheepskin-lined white snow boots next July — because that’s when I will, no doubt, have to buy her the ones she really wanted this year. Unless, of course, L.L. Bean hires me. Fingers crossed, shoppers!

30 thoughts on “The Great Boot Shortage

  1. This is hilarious! I shouldn’t laugh though. One would think they’d like to sell more and make more money too. I’d move on to another brand. I’m a shopper and could find you some boots. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. elinwaldal says:

    I need to start by saying how glad I am that both of you, either now, or as the case is with you, later, have a nice pair of boots. I love the way you tell a story. I can even picture the gentleman “helping” you. As for their inability to create more supply for their annual demand, seems as if they are missing out on some serious cash. Good luck with the job opportunity, I am afraid though, they might now be smart enough to know they need you!


  3. Who ever has the presence of mind to buy boots before the weather gets cold? Not me. You would expect a company like L.L.Bean to know that and stock up.


  4. Epic fail by LL Bean. How can they not anticipate this – especially since it happens every year?! Time to try a different company?


  5. As a testament to my questionable parenting, and even after having lived in snow country for at least 5 years, I learned of the great boot shortage through first hand experience as well. It is real, my friend, very real, and a real pain in the ________.
    So glad Fangette will have warm toes this winter.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Toni McCloe says:

    At first your post made me smile. Then it made me laugh out loud. I hope LL Bean got the message.


  7. How could L.L. Bean be out of boots? That is just crazy! They should (NEED to) hire you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. How does LL Bean run out of boots? This is crazy. Zappos and amazon to the rescue.


  9. That’s pretty ridiculous. I don’t think I’ve ever patronized LL Bean. Perhaps that’s a good thing. In Colorado, we pretty much find boots year round… somewhere. Good luck keeping your daugther’s tootsies warm (as well as her seat in class!).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love the story and your humorous writing. I will the great boot shortage of 2014 and hope it won’t repeat in 2015. I will have to plan ahead.


  11. The solution? Zappos. They ship instantly & their inventory is off the hook large.


  12. eveofreduction says:

    I just ordered boots on Amazon and it said “5 left” I was like really? It’s not even Black Friday…or winter. I guess we should go into the boot biz!


  13. ace1028 says:

    Are you in Maine? I’m hoping to get to LL Bean when we go up for Christmas. 🙂 It’s been wayyy too long. But no boots! What on earth!?! Are they crazy? That’s nuts. Either way, glad you got her a pair and coupons rock. I am excited to see another mama doing NaBloPoMo – just found two of you in the midlife post for today. I’m doing it, too, trying to stay on track. It’s been fun.


    • javaj240 says:

      Well, I don’t know what your definition of “fun” is, LOL! Really, I wish they would move NaBloPoMo to February… November is a difficult time of year… still, I have done it this far this year… last year I missed a couple of days 😦

      I am not in Maine, I’m in New Jersey… My understanding is (and I checked the website) most of their boots will be unavailable until 2/24/15. Seriously.

      Thanks so much for reading and for commenting. Welcome to the lunacy!


  14. Cathy says:

    Hard to believe that about LL Bean, so now that you found your new niche I have no problem coming to visit you in Maine!

    This brought back memories of college. I went to a very preppy school where boys and girls all wore pink and kelly green. Ugh. I had no idea coming from NJ! I got myself those typical LL Bean boots (do they still have them?) with the different colors where the toes are. Ugly but part of the culture. Definitely NOT counter culture. In retrospect I don’t think I fit in with the clothing aspect….


  15. CaptCruncher says:

    L.L. Bean should hire you and stop the boot shortage insanity. I am the outdoorsy type and I have never heard of such a crazy notion as having to get my boots before the boot shortage…. That just sounds like bad business.

    Liked by 2 people

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