Local pool business owners talk inflation, supply shortages

·4 min read

Jun. 9—PLATTSBURGH, Malone — Having fun may cost more this summer.

Inflation, as well as persistent supply-chain issues, is continuing to negatively affect businesses everywhere, and the local pool business is no exception.

LAKE CHAMPLAIN POOLS

Lake Champlain Pools, Spas & Stoves, a retail store in Plattsburgh that sells, installs and maintains pools, spas, saunas and stoves, has been doing its best to operate around the economic issues.

"This year seems to be better than 2020 and 2021. We are very well stocked (now). Although, in some cases, we have alternative products versus the name brand that you might expect. For some products, we're on an allocation and there might be a bit of a wait period," co-owner of Lake Champlain Pools, Spas & Stoves, Erinn Hubbell, said.

"Given all the supply-chain issues, we encourage people to start thinking about their projects early."

Because of these long wait periods, some high-demand products have been harder to obtain for customers, Hubbell said.

"Hot tub covers have been taking about 20 weeks, and we've been on allocation for hot tubs, so there is usually a few month waiting period," she said.

"We have not been able to get a variety of sizes of chlorine tabs and anything involving chemical kits. Manufacturers are limiting the amount of SKUs (stock keeping units) to improve efficiency. Luckily, we haven't had issues obtaining liquid chlorine or powdered shock, and this year we have plenty of tabs as well.

"We had to raise our prices due to the increased cost of the products but not because of supply issues."

The COVID-19 pandemic, in many ways, has been bad for business.

But, in other ways, it has actually helped business, Hubbell said.

"We've been very fortunate throughout the pandemic that we've had an uptick in business. People were forgoing their vacations and spending money in their backyards," she said.

"Weather plays a huge role, and it does seem like a slower start this year, but we're ready to go."

SPAULDING POOL & SPA

Spaulding Pool & Spa, a retail store in Malone that sells and installs in-ground and above-ground pools and fencing, along with pool chemicals and accessories, is also dealing with a fair share of economic issues affecting the business.

Owner Jordan Molnar said they are doing their best to make sure these issues don't trickle down and affect their customers.

Raising product prices, for instance, is something they are trying to avoid.

"We're trying to protect the customers as much as possible by doing things like, as soon as they sign a contract for a pool, we'll order all that stuff, and we'll house it on our property in order to save everybody from (price) escalation," Molnar said.

"Because pricing on pools — we were getting letters almost weekly that 'this product' or 'that product' was going up, so we're trying to hedge that with essentially investing in the product and having it on sight, (and) in our control, so that we don't have to raise prices to meet potential escalation in the future.

"With COVID, pricing and everything has escalated, and with inflation, it's gotten worse. Being in business for 52 years, we don't want to seem like we're raising our prices astronomically to take advantage of the situation. We're trying to maintain our reputation that we've built over 52 years and be a friend and a member of the community."

Spaulding Pool & Spa hasn't been a stranger to supply shortages either.

"They'll run out of certain things, and you can't get them for months on end in some cases, so anticipating some of those things is almost impossible," Molnar said.

Though supply conditions are slightly improving, he said.

But aluminum above-ground pools, and some chlorine and pool chemicals, remain difficult to get.

"Manufacturers tried to guess what the market was going to do this year, so they didn't make certain pools. Those pools are still in demand, but they didn't make them — specifically... aluminum wall above-ground pools," he said.

"We have people from Georgia calling us (and) asking if we can ship pools down to them, because they don't have them down there... (but) we really don't have them up here."

Despite the challenges Spaulding Pool & Spa has faced, and is facing, Molnar considers himself "blessed" in one aspect of his business.

"Everybody else seems like they're having a hard time finding people, but our business specifically, has been blessed in having good people available to do the work, and I have a lot of people who have been here for a long time and are very dedicated," he said.

"From that standpoint, I'm blessed as an owner."

Email: cnewton@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: CarlySNewton