Spring is finally here!
Well, it is according to the calendar. Living in the Midwest, winter has a hard time letting go. We have launched our Spring scents in most items. The reliable “supply chain issues” is causing a delay in a few items. Supplies are on order, so hopefully we can get everything in place shortly. We covered all the Spring scents last month, read up here. There will be two more “Summery” scents to come – once we think of a name for them.
More on that Supply Chain craziness
It seems there is heavy instability with our suppliers. In stock levels are extremely volatile and prices are fluctuating rapidly. It is hard for us to keep a larger than usual supply on hand due to very limited space, leaving us stuck with whatever the situation is when it comes time to reorder. This leaves us in a precarious situation. We either need to absorb temporary price increases or regularly update our pricing to reflect our actual costs. This can vary by product as some items have very tight markups that can easily be eroded if we do not raise their price. For example, our liquid soaps are as “cheap” as we can make them. When factoring the costs to ship these heavier items any increase in the cost of the goods we use to make them needs to be immediately reflected in a higher price. Items like beard oils, lotions and bar soaps have more room to tolerate the instability. This all creates a nebulous structure that can ripple through everything we make to maintain our value pricing across the board.
We would love to bring our prices down on some of our more profitable items to be more “fair”, but doing so means we would have to apply more significant increases to the more volatile items. Our mindset is that as long as we can maintain a value across all lines, we will do so. If any one line becomes too negatively impacted by the market fluctuations we will look into suspending or deleting the affected items.
Our hopes are that as we head into summer we will see some level of stabilizing for enough of our costs to level our pricing. Until then, you may see some prices going up as costs go up and going back down when the costs go down. Also of note is that shipping rates from our suppliers have increased significantly. With Business to Business suppliers using shipping rates as a means to offset other costs. We have seen their Free Shipping thresholds go up much higher and the introduction of handling charges. We are paying 2 to 3 times what we have previously paid for shipping. We cannot ignore this expense and are being more creative in our buying to find the best bottom line price to include the shipping rates. We have seen that the lowest listed price for a good can be more expensive than a competitor when we factor in that the competitor’s shipping rates are significantly lower. We are also holding back on ordering goods we need to be able to place a larger order to obtain the free shipping. And yes, we are ordering more to also meet the goal as well.
WOW! That was fast!
We hear this a lot when it comes to our order fulfillment. We ship every order the following weekday morning. If we receive an order before 10:00am, it may go out the same day if everything is ready to ship. In our own experience, this is not normal. Looking at Etsy, we see a lot of sellers that take their time to ship orders of made goods. Sometimes they only ship once per week or even month. I don’t get it. Even when I had a full time out of the house job, I still maintained the same shipping schedule – except the same day thing didn’t happen then. Over the years I have had a few instances where our mail carrier did not understand the concept of outgoing mail which has delayed some from getting their orders in the timeline I insist upon. And, only twice have orders been reported lost or stolen. We love hearing the excitement when you get your order faster than you expected. It’s one of those little things that can attract new customers. If you have a great experience, let others know with a review on our site, Google or Facebook.
In a related topic. We often receive offers to expand our product selection with drop ship items. These would be items that we do not have on hand to ship, nor maintain our inventory. They are shipped directly from a chosen supplier and they charge us for each item shipped versus a set quantity purchased in advance. These items may ship from a warehouse in the US, but more likely it is in China. With drop ships the time from receiving an order to getting to the customer can be weeks. If we offered such items, and a customer ordered a mix our drop ship items and our made goods it can lead to confusion and a lot of annoyed customers wondering where the rest of their order is. Such items are also more expensive to offer with hidden costs for us. We feel shoppers deserve better. We want to offer more, but this is not the way for us to achieve that.
Over the next few weeks you will find fewer items on our website. Many items have languished in sales and we feel that those items are cluttering up our site and out shelves. We plan to remove many of our expanded skin care items, liquid shampoos and conditioners. With the launch of our HEAD 2 TOE liquid soaps and our BIG BAR Utility Soaps we are reinforcing our approach to Utility + Simplicity by offering a mixed use product that performs very well in every use. We still intend to reintroduce shampoo bars, these will tackle specific hair needs that step outside “average” needs. A conditioner bar is coming too. We hope to have these ready by summer so we can show them off at the festivals.
About those festivals…
We are expecting to be taking part with Andersonville Midsommarfest in June. We are still looking for a July festival to attend and awaiting announcements for August events. The September Andersonville Arts Fest is being discussed, and we hope to be there. With a July event, that would make 4 to 5 events for the summer, which should keep us very busy. Recently we learned of a once a month Maker’s Market in Rogers park and have sought to take part in a couple of them. Thankfully these will not be weekly, like farmer’s markets where we would be locked in for every date for the duration of the market.
Local Pickup Update
We are still offering pick-up so you can save on shipping fees. We can have your order ready for pick up within 2 days. We have daytime and some night time hours available to choose from. Simply select Local Pick Up at Checkout, then choose an available time slot to pick up your order. Do note, if a slot you want is not visible it means it is not available. If you are not finding a time that works well, select a ANY slot, then message us so we can work out a time that works best. it is possible to be flexible on some evenings where there is no available appointments. Although Saturday nights and all of Sundays are not possible.
In other news
We have lost an important part of our family recently. Some of you that have followed us online or seen us at some events know of our Samoyed Zephyr (Zephyrus Wintertale). The last year or so was rough for him and us as he dealt with blindness, deafness and cancer. My attentions were split more than ever as I spent some days tending to him and not “the business”. When you have a family business, this happens. We are missing him immensely and I am moving through my grief. With not having my attention taken away from work at the moment, i am able to get back to focusing on all those little details I had set aside. I can now get back to work on our video making plans as well.
There will be a couple long weekends coming this summer where we will be 100% closed so we can take some personal time and enjoy some traveling. As we get these trips planned we will announce them here and on Facebook. During these closures, we will be unable to process or ship orders, as well as answer any inquiries. When we go on vacation, our customer service gets a break too.