Christmas Trees in December and Bloomsday T-Shirts in May – Difficult Supply Chain Challenges

It takes a lot of talent and effort to get the right products to the right place at the right time.

By ·

I participated in the 2013 Bloomsday 12K run/walk in Spokane, WA on May 5.  This is an important and well-known road race, mostly because of the event’s size.  About 50,000 people participate from the surrounding areas and some from across the country.  It’s a fun event with bands and fans all along the hilly course and a big party at the finish line.

At about mile 5, while I was desperately trying to take my mind off my aching feet, I started to think about the supply chain support required for special events like this.  Bloomsday is exceptionally well organized and managed, and the supply chain challenges are especially difficult.

Just getting people lined up in the proper time/age groups at the start of the race is amazingly orderly and efficient.  And consider for example, making sure that there is enough water poured into cups and ready to hand to 50,000 people at 4 stations along the route.  Water is critical to keep participants hydrated in the warm May sunshine and for their successful finish of the race.  These are major logistics challenges of a huge event like this, and the Bloomsday logisticians did a remarkable job.

There are other considerations, too.  T-shirts at Bloomsday are legendary.  The design of the annual t-shirt is kept secret until race day, but behind the scenes, ordering 50,000 shirts must be a daunting task.  The tag inside my t-shirt says it was made in Mexico.  Sourcing t-shirts must have included months of planning for production and importing into the US.  The shirts (in the size we ordered) were available at organized distribution tables at the end of the race. 

These kinds of big events are akin to other supply chain challenges such as pumpkins and costumes at Halloween and Christmas trees in December.  It takes a lot of talent and effort to get the right products to the right place at the right time.  Bloomsday Supply Chain people are some of the best.  Well done Spokane Bloomsday, well done!


About the Author

Rosemary Coates
Ms. Coates is the Executive Director of the Reshoring Institute and the President of Blue Silk Consulting, a Global Supply Chain consulting firm. She is a best-selling author of: 42 Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China and Legal Blacksmith - How to Avoid and Defend Supply Chain Disputes. Ms. Coates lives in Silicon Valley and has worked with over 80 clients worldwide. She is also an Expert Witness for legal cases involving global supply chain matters. She is passionate about Reshoring.

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