Running a business in this economic climate requires lots of planning. When times were fat, we maintained a well stocked catalog building. While we liked it that way, we can’t afford it now. The result is that I look ahead to what we will need for upcoming classes and I order what I need plus a bit more. The order covers the class; the bit more takes care of sales to the people in the class. Anything left over goes on a shelf for sale through the on-line catalog.
As you can see from this description, I am left with small amounts of lots of things. Once that small amount sells out, I do not stock it again until I am running that class again. So, while running a business in this climate requires me to do a lot of planning, it requires the same of you. The days are gone (although I hope they will return) when you could send an order from the web site for 8 turning sets and have them arrive in a couple of days. Now, you need to check with us as soon as the idea on making more chairs enters your mind. If you wait until you are ready to start the project, you may be disappointed. In other words, for both our sakes give me as much advance notice as you can.
We will wrap up 2009 tomorrow, and will not teach the first class of 2010 until March 22. I am not planning on stocking any more inventory until early March.
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The weak economy has a lot of people concluding they can’t afford to take a class, so they decide to try their hand at chairmaking on their own. As a result, we have been getting a steady stream of orders for tools and material from people who have never studied with us. I have to inform them that many of our products are part of our program. We developed them for our program so we could teach our classes and provide our students with the wherewithal to make more chairs. We do not sell these items to the general public. As you can see from above, we have trouble keeping the people who have been here supplied. I cannot short change them in favor of someone who is not willing to invest the time or effort to come here.
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This is the season for gift certificates. If you want to buy someone a class, we can provide you with a gift certificate to put under the tree. You can get a certificate for a specific class date, or one that is open ended and can be used when the recipient is ready. The best way to do it is to use our catalog order form. It will allow you to send us your CC# encrypted. Be sure to include the information needed to personalize the certificate in the memo section. That information includes the recipient’s name; the names of the gift givers, the event (Christmas, birthday, anniversary, etc.) If you want the certificate to be a secret and have it sent to another address, be sure to make that clear, and to give me that address.
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Last post I mentioned Sir Brian Offutt, who his here this week. Sir Brian gave me some other news in regards to his chairmaking. He displayed a settee at two community fairs this summer and was awarded first place and best of show at both fairs; the Shippensburg Fair, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and the South Mountain Fair in Adams County, Pennsylvania. He is planning to take other chairs to these fairs next summer.
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“His Grace Don Harper was passing by a Shaker chair shop as the Shakers were loading a large order of chairs on a wagon. The shakers were busy counting the chairs to make sure they had the proper amount. Hezekiah tried first, but got lost track after 17. Ezekiel tried next, buy lost count at 14. Jonas did not get any higher than nine.
His Grace looked at the assembled chairs and told the Shakers there were 65. The Shakers were amazed. “How did you manage to do that?” Hezekiah asked.
“Easy,” Don replied. “I just counted the legs and divided by four.”
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