Demand ‘eclipses’ supply of glasses

The Canadian Press
Mary Gazze

TORONTO–Ali Van Orman still is looking for specialized glasses to protect her family’s eyes during Monday’s solar eclipse because she never counted on demand totally eclipsing supply.
She tried to buy a coveted pair of solar eclipse glasses for herself and two children from Amazon back in July, but the hot commodities would not have arrived in time.
Van Orman and many others are turning to social media to try to track down retailers that still have the glasses in stock.
As of yesterday, supplies had dwindled in stores across Canada.
Inventory status reports on the websites for Best Buy and Toys “R” Us showed the devices, which cost about $3, were sold out in many cities.
“There’s a little toy store here in Calgary,” Van Orman noted. “I called them and they said, ‘No, you are the 50th person that’s phoned us.’
“It’s just one of those great things that I wish that I had done earlier,” she said, adding she will investigate other options such as a pinhole camera or welding goggles.
Optometrists have said that watching the eclipse without certified protection could lead to permanent vision loss.
Early birds who snapped up extra pairs before the rush are selling them for up to $40 on Kijiji.
Andy Kahrmann, spokesman for Vancouver-based pharmacy retailer London Drugs, said the
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chain sold thousands of pairs, and B.C.’s Lower Mainland and Saskatchewan were the first to sell out.
“I personally didn’t even get a pair of glasses. We sold everything we had,” he noted.
“A couple of speciality magazines were including viewing glasses inside the magazines,” Kahrmann added.
“Those are even sold out.”
He said the chain ordered double the amount of glasses it thought it would need, but that still wasn’t enough to meet demand.
The glasses didn’t sell at first, Kahrmann noted, and by the time sales picked up, it was too late to re-order from the manufacturer–one of the more popular companies listed by the American Astronomical Society as a reputable supplier.
This week, Amazon issued refunds to customers who had bought potentially-shady solar eclipse glasses on its site, saying it could not confirm that glasses came from a recommended manufacturer.
“We recommend that you DO NOT use this product to view the sun or the eclipse,” the refund e-mail said.
With an online retail giant out of the picture, supply is even more strained.
Canada only will get a partial eclipse, with 90 percent of the sun covered in Victoria to just 31 percent coverage in St. John’s.
But stores in U.S. regions where the sun will be more covered sold out a week ago.
One planetarium in Utah sold 21,000 pairs in a single day.
Some universities and science museums in Canada will be distributing the glasses for free at viewing parties across the country Monday.
If you can’t get a hold of glasses, NASA’s website recommends other ways to view the eclipse safely.
Editor’s note: The moon is expected to cover 71.8 percent of the sun in this area.
The moon will be in the sun’s path starting at 11:45 a.m. (CDT) and continue for two hours, 37 minutes.
The best time to see the peak of the eclipse will be 1:04 p.m. (CDT).