Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sales patterns

If you are in any form of sales, you probably know what I'm talking about. Sales are rolling along nicely and for no particular reason, things seem to come to a screeching halt. Or, on the flip side... the day you are expecting nothing turns out to be one of the biggest sales days of your life!

Over the years, we've attempted to identify what makes the difference and concluded that there absolutely is no rhyme nor reason.

In the shop, the days we assumed everyone would be hunkering down at home, like during a snowstorm or a hurricane(!), it seemed our customers decided our shop would be a good place to spend their time.

One sure thing we did determine was that summer basically meant slow sales and small classes since everyone had other plans. We were sure that everything would pick up as soon as the kids were back at school. No.. apparently there is an adjustment period of about a month before they pick up.

Oh, and "black Friday" in a small shop is not what it is cracked up to be. I remember going in one year, stocked up and raring to go. Bam... nothing! We were so disappointed. In our shop, the real boom time was the last two weeks before Christmas. We made a good percentage of our yearly sales in that very small window, and once we adjusted to it, it was fine.

At shows and at the Ren Faire, we assumed that good weather meant good sales and bad weather meant bad sales... Again, this is not necessarily so. Some of our biggest sales at shows were during really nasty weather. I guess the customers that came out were the serious shoppers and they went from booth to booth, intent on finding what they wanted while staying out of the rain or heat. Good weather allowed a lot of wandering aimlessly (and at the Faire, it meant being able to sit comfortably at the various shows - all wasted "shopping time". Sometimes this still meant good sales, but not always. Again... unpredictable.

When I named my soap company "Lancaster County Soapworks", I was aiming for the large tourist business in our area and it worked out well, but it is very seasonal. Christmas is not big for me... but watch out in the spring and summer.

Now, with the addition of the jewelry business, I find it fascinating that when there is a slump in one, the other picks up. About the time I think I'll never see another order for soap... a jewelry order pops up.. and vice versa.

Oh, and Heaven forbid I should plan a vacation. There's such a rush of orders that I'm sure I won't be able to get everything out before we leave...

It's just another one of those things that defy explanation and my conclusion is that nothing means nothing! No expectations works best for me. That way I am often pleasantly surprised and seldom disappointed.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

HTML & Mercury in Retrograde!

What a combo! (Caution - pathetic, possibly bizarre, rant follows.)

If you believe in these things, supposedly when Mercury is in retrograde - a couple of times a year - it affects communication in all forms and the sense of direction. It was explained to me like a plunger being pulled back on a pin ball machine... that everything seems to be suspended in preparation for the plunger being released when the planet goes direct once again.

When I have trouble finding places or get lost, my first thought is, "What's Mercury doing?" Silly? Maybe, well, probably.

But after the past few days, I'm thinking it's a doozey this time! At least I'd prefer to think that it's the fault of a planet rather than that I'm just an idiot!

I've just spent 2-3 days trying to update my "vessels" page. It still isn't right, but at least the pictures appear and seem to match the descriptions. I really need to learn html - I certainly learned a lot through this. Switching between two design programs probably isn't a good idea, especially when I'm working with a template from one and they apparently make changes all by themselves... Oh well.

Then there was the ad... I put an ad together for a magazine and sent it in. Well, it was in the wrong resolution, so we decided to do something else. I just sent in pictures at 300 DPI - although my current mail client refused to send them, so I had to switch back to OE. That went relatively well, but my mail was delayed and a note requesting my font didn't reach me 'til 7PM (it had been sent at 3!) I trudged out to the shop and finally sent the font - again in OE! We'll see how this goes...

I have to send out some charms for a swap today... I dread attempting to use the machine at the P.O. which is usually a joy.

Mercury retrograde usually lasts a couple of weeks... have to check, because I can barely stand much more of this!

Edited to add: Of course, when I posted, the original link to my Vessels page didn't work! Of course it didn't. And you may need to refresh the page to get the correct pictures to show with the descriptions... just love Mercury!

We now return you to our normal programming.... thanks for listening!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Visitor revisited

VisitorRemember this guy?

I think I had mentioned that I made a vessel that these colors inspired. Never got around to posting it, so I thought (since I finally got a decent picture) I'd post it today.

I'm slowly updating my vessels page. New pictures will be replacing all the ones that have sold. I'm not an expert, so it's going slowly - everything seems to be shifting around on the page, but sooner or later, I'll get it under control.

Lily Pond Probably this one would be a nice addition too. I call it Lily Pond.. Don't you think it looks like lily pads floating in a clear turquoise pool. If I ever do a design like this again, I think I'll add a couple of Koi. Then I can call it Koi Pond.

Shooting Stars

I have a number of new vessels and another of my favorites is one I call "Shooting Stars". I used Gaffer glass which results in a wispy appearance as the threads of color flow around the glass. I'm loving the way that silver wire beads up into "stars" as it melts into the glass.

There's a bunch more coming, but the challenge of html is slowing me down...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Walk in the Woods

It's always good to get out in nature, take a break and explore. It was (as our grandmother would say) beastly hot yesterday and Tina came over. We decided to go down in the woods since we haven't taken one of our walks for some time. We barely got down the hill before we realized the heat was a little stifling, but we pressed on.

Wine berriesWe were hoping for raspberries. They usually are ripe right around July 4 so we were a little late. Luckily though, we found some wine berries. I was surprised that Tina had never tried them before and we agreed they were almost better than the raspberries we had missed.

Wine berries are ripe when the berries are bright red as opposed to the black raspberries which, oddly enough, need to be almost black. The wine berries have a hairy covering over them which pops open shortly before the berries are ready to eat.

We located the trilliums & wild ginger that we had planted this spring, but the bayberry bushes will have to wait 'til some of the undergrowth is gone before we'll be checking them again. Besides, there are too many snakes in the deep grass near the stream! They are non-poisonous, but I just don't want to get close enough to confirm this.

MimosasAfter wending our way through the woodland path which was liberally festooned with spider webs I might add, we had to climb back up to civilization. In the heat, it was something of a challenge, but we came up behind the house to the couple of Mimosa trees which line the top of the hill behind our house. I always loved them in the morning because I would look out the kitchen window and imagine I was in Africa. Mimosas have the same horizontal look as the trees that are always shown in movies about Africa - Acacia trees, maybe?

The pink and yellow powderpuff blossoms are a jaunty addition this time of the year and their fragrance is intoxicating. Might make a nice color combo for a set of beads.

We were grateful to get back to the air conditioning, but certainly did enjoy our brush with nature.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Beads to York Show

Wow! I can't believe it's been so long. Lots of things going on and I finally crossed out most of the stuff on my list.

Show Beads
Last post I showed what I bought at a bead show and here's what I'll be selling at the next one.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Sizzlers are again sharing a vendor's table at a bead show in York. I'm really looking forward to it.

Here are some of the sets and a few of the other beads (bubbles, bees, flowers and bubbles) I'll be taking.

Got a little torch time today and hope to be able to get some more time tomorrow.
I'll try to get some more pix of new beads and some new vessels to post then too.

Otherwise, our son, Rob, moved out to his own house the week of the Fourth. I think we're seeing more of him now than before he moved out! He's still close, but will be moving 2 hours away when he moves to Ursinus in the end of August. That's still close enough to see lots more of him than when he was in Rochester.

If you want to see some pictures from the past, visit my sister, Tina's, blog. We were going through some old piles of pix today from our days as the "Herb Ladies" at the Ren Faire and a couple wound up on her blog!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Take from Timonium!

My sister and I went to a bead show in Maryland today. I was hoping to meet up with some friends, but we must have crossed wires! It is a big show, in two different buildings so that's easy enough to do.

BeadsThis is my "Take". Lots of different colors - we were thinking ocean with most of the beads on the left. The deep pinks are hard to find, so I was pleased to get a few strands of those. Some lapis and some garnet.

I went to the show last year with a bunch from the Sizzlers. The show itself was one of the first I attended with a strictly wholesale section. I was happy to find silver at good prices and this year was no exception.. Unfortunately silver was not what I was looking for and the variety I remember from last year just didn't seem to be there.

Last year, it was a revelation, but this year, it was a bit disapointing. I'm not sure why, but I think it is catering more to retail and finished jewelry. Another reason is probably that this show also is held in Baltimore a couple of times a year and the selection there is much better in the larger wholesale section.

I did need to find my "chain people" and when I finally did, they were out of the chains I was looking for! I met them before at the Baltimore show and I guess they remembered me. I placed an order that they will send out when they are back in the office on Tuesday, so that problem was solved.

Love the shows, but oh, so tiring! Unfortunately, by the time I get to the second building, nothing looks terribly new or exciting any more. By the time the next show rolls around, though, I'll be ready!