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‘It took us by surprise’: Portland company’s jigsaw puzzle sales increase due to pandemic

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    PORTLAND, OR (KPTV ) — A Portland-based company is seeing a spike in jigsaw puzzles due to pandemic.

“We’ve been in business for 52 years. My husband started it in 1968 as a poster distribution company. started publishing books in the 1970s, became a big calendar publisher, jigsaw puzzles in 2004 also, books, games, coloring books,” Katie Burke, Vice President and Publisher, Pomegranate said.

Burke says she was shocked to see how people started buying lots of jigsaw puzzles once “stay home” orders went into effect in mid-March.

“Yes, it took us by surprise, I have to say. Our jigsaw puzzles went up 850 percent. Normally, March and April are not our busy season,” she said. “So, we had to order new shipping boxes in order to meet the demand.”

Inside Pomegranate’s northeast Portland headquarters, most office workers are doing the job from home while warehouse workers are spread out when putting orders together.

The company’s been tracking which puzzles are most popular, and it’s the ones with 1,000 pieces.

With a focus on working with artists you’ll notice puzzles of Monet, Renoir, even Portland’s Eric Wert.

“One of our most popular puzzles is a Jackson Pollack. It was originally published as a puzzle in the 1960’s and was touted as one of the most difficult puzzles ever created and we sell a lot of that one,” Burke said. “It’s a hard one!”

Despite the boost in puzzle sales Pomegranate has also been hit hard by the pandemic.

They had to lay off people early on since a bulk of business is done with museum stores which are closed for now.

“So, we’re taking a big hit that way and it’s still to be seen how that’s all going to play out,” she said.

But Burke is staying optimistic. Like her puzzles this is yet another challenge.

“Art is one of the greatest things that any of us can have around us, in our opinion, to help us heal and help us get through the day,” Burke said. “So, we’ll keep on going with art for as long as we can!”

Pomegranate recently partnered with thinker toys in Multnomah Village to donate two cases of puzzles which Meals on Wheels then gave to local seniors.

We’ve all spent more time at home in the last couple of months and for some it’s been a way to focusing on jigsaw puzzles.

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