As with many small Texas communities, life in Carthage is centered around the town square, where local businesses still take up most of the shop windows. Lumber and feed truck drivers drive through the square on their way to nearby Marshall or Nakogdoches, stopping for a burger at the Texas Tea Room or a quick haircut at a barbershop called Jesus Shaves.
Kelly and Scott Reeves own an old soda fountain in Carthage Square called the Sunflower Trade. Most of their business involves Blue Bell ice cream and sandwiches they serve to locals and passers-by, but they’ve had more trouble with their gift shop lately.
“We ordered a lot of things for the Christmas season, which is one of our big seasons, and it never came,” Scott Reeves told me on October 23rd. … Everything got stuck along the way, a lot from Asia – China, Vietnam – so we had to cancel a lot of orders. “
Most troubling, Scott Reeves says, is that “it doesn’t seem to get better.” On October 22, the Vietnamese manufacturer told him he didn’t know when he should expect delivery of the toys he ordered several months ago. Another company that offered free shipping in past years recently charged the store $ 500 for shipping items under $ 2,000.
“Shipping is killing us and we don’t want to raise prices, but unfortunately we may have to,” said Scott Reeves.
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Within walking distance, Jeremy Kane described a similar lack. He runs the family-owned business Cain True Value Hardware and said he has trouble getting everything from HardiBacker cement board to certain types of paints.
“The most common soil, we need to wait until December,” said Cain. “We finally got a PVC pipe for $ 130 for a 24-foot piece. It used to be about 40 plus dollars. “
While many of the economic troubles driving the current supply chain crisis first emerged when Donald Trump was president and were exacerbated by the pandemic, the current administration bears much of the blame in highly conservative parts of the country, such as Panola County, Texas, where Carthage is located. where Trump received more than four times as many votes as Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Nick John, a recruiter and driver for Cain Hardware, blames the rise in prices and delivery delays on “inflation and politics,” and Cain stepped in, adding “and the current president.” But sales at his store have increased in recent months, attributed to fears of runaway inflation and widespread concerns in East Texas over how the economy is doing under Biden’s leadership.
“People are stocking up because they think it’s only going to get worse before it gets better,” he said.