Jigsaw puzzle makers struggle to meet demand after pandemic puzzle boom
Jigsaw puzzles have seen a boom in popularity as Canadians continue to hunker down at home. But puzzle makers have struggled to meet the explosion in demand.
One of those puzzle-makers is David Manga, who is president of Cobble Hill Puzzles in Victoria, B.C. He told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday that when the pandemic first hit, he told his employees to stay home and had expected sales to plummet, like most businesses.
“About two weeks later, we noticed that puzzle sales kept going up and up. And it caught us by surprise, but sales just boomed after about two weeks,” said Manga.
In 2019 Cobble Hill sold 1.3 million puzzles. But as a result of the puzzle boom, the company ended up selling 2.4 million in 2020.
“They would’ve grown by more, but we just simply couldn’t manufacture them fast enough,” said Manga.
Manga says he couldn’t quickly acquire more machinery to boost puzzle manufacturing and meet demand.
“When you cut a puzzle, it’s as if you’re cutting not just one piece of paper but a thousand pieces of paper. We need really strong die cutting machines and they’re not readily available. So, there wasn’t a lot of capacity in the market to make more puzzles,” Manga explained. “Our puzzles are made in North America, so we don’t have the ability to get more machinery that fast.”
Prior to the pandemic, Cobble Hill would generally have 530 out of its 550 puzzle designs in stock.
“A store could call us up and pick what they wanted. But after the pandemic started, our puzzle supply got so poor, that we might have only 15 per cent of puzzles in stock at any time,” said Manga.
Now almost a year into the pandemic, Manga says sales continue to be strong.
“It’s remarkable that the puzzle fad hasn’t slowed down. I think the big thing for the market going forward is that it’s introduced a lot of people to puzzles for the first time,” said Manga. “And if they like it, they’ll keep coming back for more.”
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