appliances

Jim Hooker talks about some the fridges that they still have for sale at Hooker Appliance on Friday.

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Garden harvests and the closing hunting season typically lead to an increased interest in freezers this time of year, but due to COVID-19-related shortages, freezers — and nearly every other major appliance — are in short supply.

“We get calls every day for freezers,” said Josh Parker, who’s on the sales team at Darrell’s Appliance.

It’s the same at Big & Friendly Hooker Appliance and big box stores like The Home Depot and Lowe’s — where an employee said he tells at least 20 people a day the same thing: “More are coming, soon. We hope.”

“Now, they have started trickling in and upright freezers will be coming soon,” said Jim Hooker, who runs the family store. “But that is the biggest shortage, currently.”

Because of the shortages, more people are trying to fix broken freezers and appliances, keeping Darrell’s technicians busy.

“That’s the best we can do for them,” Parker said. “With freezers on backorder for several months, that’s what we offer. We can do that, you know, in less than a week. That’s their best option instead of having to wait three months.”

But even the parts are in limited supply.

Hooker said there was a brief shortage in the 1970s and there have been part shortages before, but they typically lasted six months or less.

Summer is traditionally a big month for sales with people moving, remodeling and doing household updates. Not only are half of all the manufacturers in China, where the virus ravaged workers in close contact with each other and caused massive shutdowns early on, but food shortages early in the pandemic led to more people prepping for the worst and hoarding food storage.

“Now their production, in some instances, has gotten up to 100%,” Hooker said. “But they’re playing catch-up. And it’s not going to happen anytime soon.”

Hooker’s stock is the best in town, he said, and he was able to sell for longer than most other stores in the valley, but he’s now down to three freezers. Lowe’s? Three or four of the smaller size, but none of the seven-footers usually stocked this time of year. Darrell’s? None.

Fridges, washers and dryers are also low in stock, but the warehouses aren’t cleared out.

The season those appliances sell fastest is over by November, after a holiday rush of people wanting to update their kitchens before hosting gatherings. While the manufacturing plants are, for the most part, operating at full capacity once again, Hooker said he expects the shortages to last until after the New Year, at least.

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