El Cajon

National Jar Shortage Puts East County Small Business In An Unexpected Jam

Owners of Jackie's Jams in El Cajon persevered through the pandemic, but have had to scramble to find jars prior to holiday season.

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An unexpected supply chain disruption is impacting an East County small business specializing in homemade jams. Its owners are now being forced to manage a national jar shortage.

“This has just put a whole other layer of stress on our business to ensure that we have jars for our product. The reason I say that is, if we can’t get a jar, we’re out of business,” said Risa Baron.

Baron and her husband David have owned Jackie’s Jams for 12 years. The small company specializes in homemade all-natural jams which are sold at stores including Whole Foods and Baron’s Market.

Last year, in the middle of the pandemic, Risa Baron said she was warned of an impending jar shortage. While other businesses in need of jars were slow to react, Baron took the warning seriously.

“This is our livelihood, this is our family business and this is, we love what we do, and the only way we can do it, is if we have a jar,” Baron said.

Last year, Jackie’s Jams sold more than 75,000 jars of jam – among the flavors: strawberry, peach cobbler, zippy jalapeno and more, according to Baron.

But at one point prior to last year’s holiday season, the company was down to about 24 jars. The shortage forced them to change their business model, at a significant cost.

Prior to the shortage, the Barons would typically buy a pallet of about 4,200 jars. Once those jars were filled, they’d order another pallet, which would arrive in a matter of days.

Labor issues impacting cargo ships standing by to offload at the port of Long Beach, and U.S. tariffs on China have triggered the shortage, according to Baron.

“We had it going pretty well for 12 years, just ordering, it gets to here, order another one. Call them up, 'It’s Dave. OK, we’ll send you another one.' Now, it’s like, 'Dave, I don’t know if we can find you anymore,’” explained Dave Baron.

Now, the Barons have taken the drastic step of stockpiling thousands of jars, which they hope will keep them thriving through the busy holiday season.

“Our business model moving forward is, we’re going to buy as many jars as possible, whenever we can get them, wherever we can get them,” said Dave Baron.

The Barons credit a non-profit organization called California Manufacturing Technology Consulting, with helping them to locate the hard-to-find jars. The couple recommends all small business owners struggling through the pandemic to reach out to the organization.

Meanwhile, Risa Baron is hoping the U.S. government will take a serious look at how small businesses are being impacted by supply chain disruptions.

“I would love to be able to buy jars here in the United States. I can’t do it, and so I’m held captive to China because of the way the supply chain system works,” said Risa Baron.

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