Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not really running out of stuff

The rail line from Cochrane is the way that most things and people get to Moosonee. Flying is a lot more expensive ($700 round trip as opposed to about $100 for the train).
There have been no trains this week until today due to the closure of the line after a person set parts of the Moose River bridge on fire over the weekend.
At the store (i.e. Northern) a couple of shelves are bare:  fresh milk and commercial bread. Nothing else really seems short. There is lots of instore baked bread and everything else looks to be in normal supply.
A long time, Northern's predecessor stores (the Hudsons Bay Company) brought in a year 's supply of goods at a time. Some remote stores occasionally had to make supplies last for a second year when conditions made it impossible to supply them.
Running a business that only got deliveries once a year required a lot of warehouse space. Today, when I look at a Northern store I am struck by how little storage space it has. They supplement it a bit with trailers but they really have to depend on a good supply system. It is not "just in time", except for perishables, but it must come very close.
Moosonee is a comparatively easy place to supply because of the rail line. Moose Factory is a little more difficult, especially this time of year when things have to slung over under helicopters. Thinking about it makes you appreciate how complicated the whole supply system must be. The amazing thing is that, most of the time, it works reasonably well and I can go to the store assuming that most of what I need will be in stock, most of the time.

Prices are another story, of course.

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