Garden Gnome Shortage Hits, Suez Canal Blockage One of Major Contributing Factors

by Jon D. B.
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Think of the gnomes! As the Suez Canal blockage crisis wraps up, hundreds of thousands of garden gnomes are still “stuck in containers trying to come over” to Western customers.

“While garden gnomes are not top of everyone’s list, gardening has been very popular during the lockdown,” cites chief executive of the Garden Center Association Iain Wylie Thursday. The gardening-centric businesses that Wylie works with have come out on the upside of the pandemic, with Southwest News Service reporting that such stores have been “97% busier than they were before the pandemic struck.”

Then the Suez Canal became blocked. The week-long crisis led to shortages of many goods: aluminum cans, pepperoni, and even another much-maligned toilet paper shortage. For gardeners, however, there’s been one glaring addition to this list: Garden gnomes.

As lockdowns and social distancing became the new norm, droves turned to home-centric hobbies (and sometime necessities) like backyard gardening. And what’s a garden without a gnome? While the shortage has yet to impact the U.S., SWNS reports a drastic decrease in the place of their origin: Europe.

Garden gnomes have been a long-popular staple for European gardeners. Their fascinating history is deeply engrained within the continent’s culture and folklore, too. As such, the pandemic and Suez Canal crisis have only strained an existing mighty-need.

Garden Gnomes Stuck A’Float

“Correspondingly we’ve had difficult times where supply chains [are] under pressure,” Wylie continues of the garden gnome shortage. “With goods arriving from abroad, garden centers were affected by the ship getting stuck in the canal as much as any other industry. Garden furniture, ornaments, of which gnomes would be some, [are now] stuck in containers trying to come over here,” he clarifies.

And this includes all variety of gnomes, too. From classic stone, to more modern concrete and plastic versions, their familiar bearded faces have all but disappeared from stores. SWNS cites one garden center that says they haven’t seen a single garden gnome on their shelves for six months now.

But it’s not just the gnomes. Garden supplies in general are in far higher demand during the pandemic. European garden centers and stores are comparing “each day to a bank holiday,” the news agency adds.

Garden gnome allies can rest assured, however, that there will be consequences. According to The Washington Post, Egypt is seizing the ship responsible for blocking the Suez Canal, The Ever Given. Why? The country cites the gargantuan ship’s owners’ “failure to pay an amount of $900 million.”

This amount, which is now said to be well over $1 billion, represents “the total compensation that Egypt says [The Ever Given Owes] for the six-day blockage of the Suez Canal… Including lost revenue from ships that ordinarily would have traveled through the canal during that time… As well as costs for damage to the crucial waterway… And the equipment and labor deployed in the 144-hour scramble to free the ship,” the Post adds.

Allow us to add “compensation for gnomes trapped in the darkness of shipping containers” to that list.

Outsider.com