In this photo provided by Megan Fry, a desk Fry constructed out of a legless tabletop and bookcases stands in her Indianapolis home on Sept. 14, 2020. First it was toilet paper. Disinfectant wipes. Beans. Coins. Computers. Now, desks are in short supply because of the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s not as cute or trendy as a bought desk and I wish it had drawers for storage,” said Fry, who is starting a new work-from-home customer service job in Indianapolis in October. “But I’m happy it’s clean and has a large surface on top for my monitors and laptop.” (Courtesy Photo / Megan Fry)

In this photo provided by Megan Fry, a desk Fry constructed out of a legless tabletop and bookcases stands in her Indianapolis home on Sept. 14, 2020. First it was toilet paper. Disinfectant wipes. Beans. Coins. Computers. Now, desks are in short supply because of the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s not as cute or trendy as a bought desk and I wish it had drawers for storage,” said Fry, who is starting a new work-from-home customer service job in Indianapolis in October. “But I’m happy it’s clean and has a large surface on top for my monitors and laptop.” (Courtesy Photo / Megan Fry)

Desk shortage forces people to get creative about workspaces

Yep. You read that right.

  • By JOSEPH PISANI AP Retail Writer
  • Sunday, September 27, 2020 6:30am
  • News

By JOSEPH PISANI

AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK — First it was toilet paper. Disinfectant wipes. Beans. Coins. Computers. Now, desks are in short supply because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions of kids logging onto virtual school this fall has parents scrambling to find furniture for them. It’s a small indignity compared with the kids who don’t even have home internet or computers, but it’s a hassle for parents lucky enough to have the space and money to afford desks just the same.

At the same time, some people are realizing they’ll be working from home for the long haul and require new furniture. To find desks, people are scouring stores near and far and even making their own.

Elizabeth Rossmiller, a teacher working from home for the first time, needed to upgrade from her temporary setup: an upside-down laundry basket on a nightstand.

The desk she wanted from Amazon was out of stock. None were available for under $200 at Target or Walmart. Her husband found a floor model at a store 45 minutes away from their home in Gresham, Oregon.

It was smaller and more dinged up than she expected, but “better than a laundry basket!”

Target and Ikea are restocking home office supplies due to high demand. Amazon and Walmart did not respond to requests for comment. But John Furner, who runs Walmart’s U.S. stores, acknowledged low stocks of kid’s desks and laptops in a ABC News interview on Sept. 11.

Online, sales of desks and accessories, such as desk chairs and lamps, were up 283% in August from the year before, according to Rakuten Intelligence, which tracks shopper behavior. Sites that offer used goods show spiking interest: On Facebook Marketplace, interest in desks has doubled in the last month from the month before. But prices aren’t necessarily cheap.

Shaynah Dungan, who needs a desk for when she starts esthetician school in January, said desks similar to the sold-out one she wants from Ikea were overpriced on Amazon and OfferUp, an app where people sell their stuff.

People are figuring out other solutions, sharing advice on turning dressers or book shelves into makeshift desks on Pinterest and Facebook.

Megan Fry, who is starting a new work-from-home customer service job in Indianapolis in October, said she had to go the “DIY route” after visits to Walmart, Ikea and other stores found no desk options under $150. She made her own using a $30 legless tabletop from Ikea placed on top of two short bookcases from Amazon, which cost $42 apiece.

“It’s not as cute or trendy as a bought desk and I wish it had drawers for storage,” said Fry. “But I’m happy it’s clean and has a large surface on top for my monitors and laptop.”

Instead of bookcases, Patrick Brugh went with crates to build a desk for his 6-year-old after he couldn’t find a desk at Ikea or Amazon. The Baltimore university administrator built it in two days, spending about $70 at Home Depot on four crates and a board that he painted in bright blue.

Will the homemade desk make it through the school year?

“There’s goo on the top from his snack,” said Brugh, whose son spends about 40 hours a week on it for virtual classes. “I could not believe in three weeks how much damage he’s done to this desk.”

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, May 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 16, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Students and staff play a kickball game on the field between the Marie Drake Building and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
School district leaders debate biggest needs for extra $5.2M approved by Legislature, in hope governor won’t veto it

Staff for special education and gifted students, homeschooling, paying off city loan high on list.

Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, speaks Wednesday, May 8, on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
After several deadly drownings, Alaska Legislature votes to require harbor safety ladders

Bill by Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, passes on final day of session.

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School culinary arts team prepare their three-course meal during the National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore on April 26-28. (Photo by Rebecca Giedosh-Ruge)
TMHS culinary arts team serves a meal of kings at national competition

Five students who won state competition bring Alaskan crab and salmon to “Top Chef”-style event.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 15, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, listens to discussion on the Senate floor on Wednesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
A look at some of the bills that failed to pass the Alaska Legislature this year

Parts of a long-term plan to bring state revenue and expenses into line again failed to advance.

Most Read