Global supply chain issues mean Ridgefield businesses have fewer cars, sneakers for customers

RIDGEFIELD — Ed McGill normally had 400 new and used vehicles for customers to peruse at his dealership. Now, there are virtually no new vehicles and only about 120 used vehicles at BMW of Ridgefield, he said.

Even the used inventory doesn’t stay on the market for long. “We turn those 120 cars over every 30 days,” said McGill, the owner of the dealership on Danbury Road.

He and his sales associates are selling more new cars than ever before, but on an order-only basis.

“The demand is very high,” McGill explained. “We’re selling a lot of cars with very little inventory on the ground.”

A representative from the Pamby Motors car dealership, also on Danbury Road, said while the lot is not as full as it usually is, business is better — and busier — than ever.

When resident Lori Mazzola visited Brewster Subaru, in Brewster, N.Y., on Oct. 23, there were no cars in the showroom, she said. Although she signed a lease that day, she was unable to drive away in a new car.

Mazzola was told she would get the vehicle by early January, the latest.

Issues within the global supply chain are forcing local business owners to adapt and ensure their customers have access to inventory.

Buyers looking for a new SUV from BMW of Ridgefield can get a vehicle within six weeks because the manufacturing plant is based in South Carolina, McGill said. But new BMW sedans, which may come from Mexico or overseas, take a little bit longer to deliver.

“Whether it’s the transportation, the trucking ... or the actual manufacturing I can’t answer that,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. “I hear (it’s) a combination of both.”

Megan Searfoss opened Ridgefield Running Company on Main Street in 2014; she opened a second location in Darien in 2020. The business often partners with fellow businesses, nonprofits, local schools and charities to host training programs, community runs and events.

Searfoss has relied on hoarding her sneaker inventory to keep up with demand, as factory shutdowns in Vietnam have impacted the production of certain brands that her stores carry, she explained.

“Couple that with the tenfold cost in containers and shipment issues, we will be seeing a product shortage into (quarter one) next year,” she said. “I invested early in my top 10 styles to make sure that I could serve our customer base ... (and) have enough inventory to carry me into (quarter one).”

Searfoss admits that while the decision seemed risky, she knows those styles will sell.

Another issue that may be having a greater effect on local businesses is labor shortages, according to Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dan O’Brien.

Scant employment is further compounding the pandemic’s effect on restaurants, which now cover additional expenses for personal protective equipment, cleaning measures, outdoor seating and more.

O’Brien noted that restaurants, in particular, are “struggling” to find workers.

“They can’t get the help that they need,” he said.