The year of the pandemic is infamous for its toilet paper shortage. Cleaning wipes and hand sanitizers were nowhere to be found. iPads, webcams, and headsets were all on backorder because so many parents and children were stuck at home and were buying up all the inventory. Supply and demand issues were definitely prevalent in 2020, and finally 2021 is looking a bit better.

Jigsaw puzzles were also hard to come by. Stores had limited choices and empty shelves, and manufacturers could not keep up. Many companies did not ship for months and a lot of online prices were well above the pre-pandemic pricing.

I am a member of many online groups and I was amazed to see the photos posted by people with garages, spare rooms, and just shelves and shelves of puzzles; some with hundreds of puzzles. I have about 20 to complete in my own collection and could not imagine having hundreds. When I finish them, I trade them, sell them, or frame them.

That is when I started to think about how we collect puzzles and how we buy them. I knew from my own experience, but I was curious about others, so I asked the question online in some of my groups and was inspired by the feedback I received.

A lot of people will only buy certain brands or puzzle styles. They want White Mountain, or collage puzzles, or puzzles by the colorful and eclectic artist, Aimee Stewart.

Colorful Puzzles

Other people are focused on the image. They only want cat puzzles, or ships on the water, or abstract art. They do not like landscapes, or anything with too much of a certain color. A lot of people said they will spend more on a puzzle if the image is right.

Some people will buy based solely on price. The image or brand does not matter, they just want as many puzzles as they can find. They will scour the thrift shops and dollar stores. They love the thrill of the search. They will do any puzzle that they can find.

Many people were puzzling before the pandemic. When we were all stuck at home, they went online and joined groups, sharing photos and talking about different purchases. Of course, the more options we see, the more we want. People were concerned that they would not be able to find what they wanted later, so they started to buy more right away. The fear of missing out on a desired puzzle grew with the stock shortages.  Even though there will always be puzzles, and we will likely forget the ones we just saw, we still must have them. Collecting becomes its own hobby.

The personal stories, however, that is my favorite part of what I learned.

Everyone puzzles because of the enjoyment, the relaxation, and the distraction. There are also the people who had disabilities, health issues, or poor eyesight, and find so much joy in the hobby. They are unstoppable! I heard from people who wanted to help small businesses and funded puzzle companies on Kickstarter. They started to love puzzling once they tried. There were people who started puzzling as children and found comfort in the memories. Former addicts who used puzzles as a new focus. Married couples who watch television while doing puzzles together and find comfort in the cooperative task.

As I said last time, there are no wrong answers. It is nice to hear that we all have our own stories that will lead us to our own images. How do you feel about puzzles? Why do you buy them? Do them? Let me know, I want to learn more!