Hi Stitchers ~
Just a quick email to touch base & let you know how orders are going, especially for those of you who have orders in, or are getting ready to place an order.
First of all, thank you for being part of our stitching family. We have been overwhelmed by your support of us & our shop & we are working our hearts out for you! Just a quick tour of how we’re currently running this circus, as regards your order!
I (Beth) am at the shop each day, by myself for the most part ~ weird little observation: when I talk to myself when I’m alone, I whisper. What’s that about? Thinking I might disturb…myself? Anyway.
My day goes like this. Answer emails first ~ this takes anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours. One day it took 5 hours to answer all the emails! I really don’t mind answering your questions. Really. It’s ALMOST like getting to talk to someone (without whispering!). But here’s the catch: 1 email may take me 5-10 minutes ~ from checking to see the status of your order, to touching base with Molly for a tracking number, etc. Multiply that by 15-20 emails (which would be a REALLY SLOW day!) & you see where I end up eating lunch & trying to figure out what on earth I’ve done all morning! So be patient ~ if it takes me a day or 2 to get back to you, it’s not that I’m ignoring you!
After emails, I print off all the new orders, pull all the items we have on hand, separate out the ones ready to ship. And then I head to my computer to our spreadsheet for ordering! Good grief.
After that, hopefully it’s still daylight out. No, it’s not that bad…I mean, the days are longer now, right? Anyway, then I get to decide (!) whether I place orders with my suppliers or I spend a happy happy afternoon paying bills!! That is not a hard decision for me.
Okay, enough about me. What about everyone else? Well, Molly is working at home doing EVERYTHING ELSE. Okay, not everything (because you DON’T want her doing framing). She has our main computer & our processing system. So she comes down to the shop once or twice a week & we go thru what has come in that is ready to be shipped ~ backorders, new orders, goodies to complete orders, you name it. We load it all up in her car at the end of the day & she heads back home. She is also answering emails, as there are some things she knows that I don’t (well, there’s a lot, but …). If you see that you received an email at 6AM, I guarantee it’s from Molly! Her days are spent invoicing, packing, packaging & shipping EVERYTHING. Thank goodness she has a WONDERFUL mail carrier who is happy to take our mountains of stuff each day. We are going thru postage like, well, I won’t say what I was thinking. We’re going thru lots of postage. And boxes. And envelopes. Most packages are going priority mail, whether it’s due to quantity, price or size. And that STARTS at $7.95. Believe me, we’re ALL paying for Amazon’s “free shipping” policy.
Molly is working like a mad woman! We have had a couple folks who’ve gotten shipped their backorders twice. Ugh! However, if I have to choose between you getting it twice or not getting it at all, I’ll pick twice every time. So if this happens, just let us know, send it back & we’ll refund you the postage.
Tracy & Sherri have set up “drive by” Saturdays for those of y’all who live locally & can come by & pick up your order. I came by one Saturday & it was like a party ~ a socially distanced party, but still... If you currently have an order in & you would like to pick it up, just email me & I’ll make sure it goes in the “pick up” section. This includes framing pickups, so if you have framing in, we’ll be sure to call & let you know it’s finished & when you can pick it up. Same with finishing ~ Therese had a rough March & April, as she had to say goodbye to her mom. But she is beginning to get her head back in to sewing & I know those have been ready for “curbside” pickups too.
During this crisis, a few new wrinkles have unveiled themselves (kinda like that lady on The Young & The Restless about 45 years ago…I know you know what I’m talking about!). The first thing was the overdyed fibers ~ I know I detailed this in a newsletter, but I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version (by the way, they don’t have Cliff Notes any more ~ the kids just watch a Youtube video…jeez, I thought cliff notes were bad…). So. First of all, we all went into lockdown almost immediately after the Nashville Market. And the fiber folks were crazed trying to restock everyone with new colors, and old colors for new charts. And then, boom! Everybody stays home. Some companies could send 1 or 2 people in, but some were much more strictly enforced. Gentle Art closed the weekend after Nashville & they were completely closed until 10 days ago. Next problem, they couldn’t get the base threads that they use to dye. DMC-USA is in NJ (CLOSED), and DMC headquarters in France was closed as well. Then add in the fact that items coming into the country from overseas take even longer…and you can see how we’re still waiting for MANY colors to come back in. We are BEGINNING to see more arriving, so that is good news. Side note: we’re even out of a few DMC colors, for basically the same reason!
Fabric suppliers have been similarly affected ~ “regular” (aka, not overdyed) fabrics are being delayed thanks to the manufacturers, mainly located in Germany, being closed! Then add that to the fabrics that get hand dyed…you get the picture!
Even designers have faced issues with charts, where their printing company is closed…so they can’t get charts out because they can’t get charts in!
And don’t even get me started on the poor designers outside the US! The gals in Italy have been under such tight restrictions that some were only allowed to go to the post office every other week. So needless to say, we are still waiting on some of our Market orders to arrive from them. This is also true of designs coming from the UK, France, Australia, etc. Shipping times have increased dramatically. One designer told me that her package, headed TO the UK from here, sat in the USPS sorting/shipping facility for a MONTH.
I give you this info not as any excuse, but simply to let you know what we’re playing with here as far as just trying to get the goodies we need. So now you know why we are always telling you how much we appreciate your patience!
Me again! More covid mailorder info we want to share with you. We have a couple changes that are going on for the time being ~ until we can resume our regularly scheduled shopping protocols! As I have been placing orders with our suppliers since most of us went into “shelter at home” orders, there have been several changes that are happening ~ on several fronts.
The biggest change is that several of our major suppliers are currently requiring either prepayment, Paypal or credit card payment before shipping orders. One person I felt comfortable enough asking about this told me at least their issue…and it does make sense, so I’ve stopped being skeptical (kinda). Anyway. Many of these places are working, as we are, from remote locations (many times their homes). And others are still able to go to their workplace (like me…), but they have a skeleton crew taking on an overload of work.
One of their major challenges, believe it or not, is getting checks to the bank! Not only that, as you may have noticed, the mail is also running more slowly. Remember, the USPS is just like every other industry ~ they are doing their flat out best, but they are encountering challenges like everyone else. People are sick, people are missing work, sorting facilities are having to work differently to make sure they are following safe distancing guidelines. So if you’re wondering why your birthday cards are arriving a week later….
All this leads back to the challenge that suppliers are having. Thus they have changed their protocols for the time being. This is rolling over to us as well. So for the time being, we will be making a change. We will begin charging your order as it arrives to us, before it is ready to ship. We try to only do this during time-restricted sales (Super Bowl, Countdown days, Market…those are the only ones I can think of). We prefer to charge your card the day we are ready to ship it. But we are finding that this is what we need to do during this time.
We GREATLY appreciate your understanding this shift in procedure.
We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support from everyone. We know lots of you are stitching during this “stuck inside” time. And I gotta tell ya, a lot of y’all are either stitching the same project, or else all the designs are using the same floss. I’ve pulled so much DMC for people lately & there are some of the most obscure colors that are literally flying out the door! The weird thing is, I’m usually pulling from a list you’ve sent me, as opposed to pulling from a chart. And it’s odd, after about the 3rd color, I know what’s coming next!
One other thing that has cropped up, and for a while it didn’t happen more than a few times a year, but it has become MUCH more prevalent. We are having orders come in, significant sized orders, and before we can get them shipped out, the order gets cancelled. One night I was on FB, and saw a post from another person in our industry who was speaking out about this vehemently. And all I could think was, “Thank goodness it’s not just me”. Then I realized that was a crummy thing to think, but still. So we all began talking & came to realize that this is what’s happening: someone orders basically the same order from 5 or 6 different shops. Then after the first order arrives ~ even if it’s just partial ~ they go back to the other shops & cancel their order. Keep in mind, we are all SMALL businesses. We can’t keep EVERYTHING in stock ~ we rely on our wonderful suppliers to get us some things quickly when we don’t stock them (for instance, we don’t carry a lot of Southwest designs…but we have some on our website & we can get them usually within a week or so ~ covid notwithstanding).
Another aspect is, when a new design comes out that’s just a blockbuster, the fabrics & fibers for it sell out just as fast. And we generally don’t know about the “ingredients” until we see the post online (which is generally about a week before it shows up). But they are not as fast to restock. But we (& by we, I mean not just TSS, but my other fellow shopowners too) are more than willing to get right on reordering it. What we don’t appreciate is when we reorder enough to restock our supply & also order enough extra for orders, only to have someone (or someones) turn around & cancel their order. We’ve now invested more money than we needed to into, let’s just say as an example, a neon green 36ct linen for which there really aren’t any other demands for. And that then reduces the amount of money we have to spend on other inventory.
As you can imagine, if this were simply about 1 chart or 3 skeins of floss, we can live with it. But it has gone beyond that. Just in the last week I have had 3 cancelled orders ~ all of them for significant dollar amounts & all for orders placed within the last 2 weeks. I will have to eat those losses & I will because that has been our policy. But we cannot continue to do this. So we are setting up a new policy. If an order that is more than $40.00 (before shipping) is cancelled, there will be a 20% charge. Call it a restocking fee, call it whatever you like, but this is a situation that we cannot allow to continue. We’re bummed to have to actually take this kind of action & we have fought against it for quite some time, but after the last week we have realized that we can’t allow the few problematic people to ruin it for everyone else.
Again, thank you in advance for understanding the why’s & werefore’s of this processing change! Added advantage: when your goodies are ready to ship, the paperwork is already done ~ Molly will just have to pack up your goodies & get them off in the mail.