Product shortages exacerbated by the pandemic have caused many consumers to change tack.
Instead of ordering new and waiting on uncertain delivery, many are seeking out ways to repair what they already have — and that alternative approach is benefiting businesses such as The Outlet, 3130 S. Cedar St. in Lansing.
The Outlet sells TVs, appliances, furniture and household items. Its online presence, Michigan Service Parts, sells mostly TV and appliance parts to repair centers and do-it-yourselfers.
“What you’ll find at The Outlet is typically new, lightly used, scratch-and-ding and refurbished items sold at huge savings for our customers,” said owner Kelly Lewter. “I’ve been selling online for around 10 years, and the storefront opened about two years ago.”
He added that much of the inventory is sourced from what is considered “scrap” or “salvage” materials. When the pandemic struck, Lewter worried.
“If the business falters, I have 15 employees counting on me for a paycheck,” he said.
But business spiked when new product shortages and months-long delivery waits spurred people to have items repaired rather than wait for new ones. Thanks to The Outlet, people with broken refrigerators could replace them — often with same-day delivery. And the online division saw sales shoot up almost 100% in the months after COVID-19 struck. Lewter and his company continue to adapt and grow, with the storefront space having almost doubled.
“Our plan is to continue what we’re doing and keep the store and our online parts business flourishing,” said Lewter.