Der Koigu ist kommen!

It’s coming! It’s coming!

I got a call from Taiu at Koigu this afternoon, and she was packing our box in preparation for shipment. WOOHOO!

Of course, that only means that it is on its way, and it’s kind of a mixed blessing since I’ll be off to Michigan tomorrow and won’t get to play in the goodies for maybe as much as a week! WAAAAH!

No, I’m not a Gemini. Why do you ask? 😉

Bad service, unanswered e-mail, and who is typically to blame

Me. That answer your questions? Didn’t figure, but it’s a start.

Just as an addendum to Rob‘s post earlier today, I, as the other half of ThreadBear would like to point out what I see.

We do deeply appreciate our clientele, and while we do have volume overloads on some things, I believe that in large part the straightforward I’d-like-two-of-this-and-fourteen-of-this-other-thing-and-that-other-pattern orders are typically answered, verified, and shipped within a couple of business days (which for Rob basically means pretty much any time day or night).

I do know for a fact that Rob is up with the dogs at the crack of dawn every day rain or shine, weekends and holidays, answering e-mails, taking calls, and generally running himself ragged (though he’d be the last person to ever admit that it’s anything but normal). I also know for a fact that he hasn’t taken a day off since New Year’s Day, and while I don’t think he knows that I know, I’m reasonably certain that he did send out a few e-mails then. We typically say that we took Easter off, too, but truth be told, he ran several orders that day, too; we just didn’t open the doors to foot traffic.

Does that excuse poor service? Nope. That simple. We both hate that our trevails with zoning, relocation, and full-time help have put us behind, but neither of us wants to turn away business, either. I can’t imagine saying here (online) or in-person, "I’m sorry, but I’m too busy to take your order." So what do we do? We continue to accept orders, and the time it takes us to get back to everyone increases. Some people do wind up going elsewhere, and from my own perspective, I certainly can’t blame them. If the situation were reversed, I’d look elsewhere. But there is also the fact that if all of this were happening somewhere other than the Internet, it would go something like this… I, John Q. Public, would walk up to the doors of a shop that was packed with people. I’d see the line and understand that this place is swamped. I like the proprietors and enjoy the service they offer, but I’d have to levy my available time to wait with how much I wanted to do business with this particular shop. I might be willing to wait, and when I did get the service that I expected once someone was able to help me, I’d probably be pleased with the results and walk away knowing that if I needed the expertise in the future, I’d again have to make the decision of whether to put up with the wait for the kind of service that I do enjoy when I can get it.

Do I expect everyone to wait? Lord, no.

Do I think that this can go on indefinitely without negative repercussions? If I did, would I have been breaking my neck to try to get us into a better position to better serve our customers? No, I’d let things go on the way they have been, but that’s not what we’ve been doing. We really have been fighting tooth-and-nail to get set up in a larger space with better-equipped, more consistently available help for over six months.

sidebar

Please, never let it be said that we have not had excellent part time help in Columbus, Indiana. We had several folks help out at different times who put forth tremendous effort on our behalf, and we’re very grateful for their time and energy. The issue has been and remains that we need more help than we have had available, and we have several highly qualified folks who have extended offers to come to work for us in Michigan. It absolutely doesn’t hurt that most of those people also have experience working in the industry, so it gives us the opportunity to immediately turn over operation of the shop in large part to them so that we can focus on relieving the bottleneck that we’ve had with mail orders.

/sidebar

To return to the issue at hand, though, we have, as several people have pointed out, grown extremely quickly, and it’s hard to be disappointed with that. However, it is precisely that growth that has created many of the problems. We genuinely had no idea that our products and services would be in such tremendous demand. We really had no remote idea that we would ever become so popular so quickly. Are we pleased? Of course, we’re pleased, but we’re also very well aware that we are not equipped to handle the huge influx of orders. Are we working to ameliorate that situation? I think the answer is pretty self-evident, but I’ll spell it out just to make sure that nothing is misunderstood.

I, as one of the two owners and only employees of ThreadBear Fiber Arts Studio, have spent a large percentage of my time trying to secure larger, more appropriate retail space for our shop as well as a home nearby so that we can continue to operate our business. That leaves one person to handle all orders until we have completed our move. At that time, our new staff will be able to help us get orders completed, and I will, as our business’ sole web developer be able to put more of our yarns, prices, and general information online so that the bulk of simple questions can be answered online without having to send e-mails that may sit unanswered because we’re currently working as quickly as we can to get orders out the door to those people who know exactly what they want in what quantities they want.

Is this less than ideal? Sure it is.

As unfortunate as that may be, is it reality? Sadly, yes, it is, and no one hates it any more than we do.

No rest for the wicked

Well, at this point, I’m sure everyone has heard that we’re moving to Michigan, so I won’t dwell on that. If you haven’t heard, check out Rob‘s recent posts.

As for me, I’m gearing up for the last big push before the move. I’ve put color consultations on hold until we get more Koigu in stock (much to Taiu’s amazement—she called freaking out when I put up the notice. Apparently, she misunderstood and was afraid I’d just stopped doing them altogether), so I’m off to Lansing Tuesday to get started on painting, laying of flooring, and generally getting the shop space ready to move into.

I think I’ll be camping out with friends until the house is ready, but wait… you’ve seen the shop space, but you haven’t seen our house.


Our new digs

They’re finishing up construction now, and we should be able to move in about the time the shop opens. We’re right on Grand River in Old Town Lansing, and the views are amazing.


Southern view off the back deck


Northern view off the back deck

Now, I just have to worry about getting the spaces ready and getting us moved. After that, maybe I’ll get a rest. I think I could stand just working on Charlottes (and Keepsakes) for a while after that. Sheesh! By then, color work will be a vacation! 😉

Other than that, I got an interesting bit of e-mail in one of the many groups that I belong to today. Apparently, there’s a new Yahoo! group called Knitting for Kerry. Now, I’ve about decided that I’m actually a Libertarian, but I’m also a realist. A Libertarian candidate has about as much chance of becoming President in 2004 as I do of becoming a father. Anyway, check out the links, and make sure you’re registered to vote!!

It Ain’t Las Vegas, but…

We had a wonderful time at TNNA with everyone, but there are definitely those moments when I just had to think of the Las Veges tourism commercial and smile. Rob and I joked about the image of the grandmotherly Asian woman writing a postcard home from Las Vegas, realizing what she’s written, then hurriedly running the fountain pen ink with a moistened fingernail. What goes on here, stays here.

In all seriousness, nothing terribly untoward happened, but there was a woman in the hotel lobby quite amused to hear us and our new friend and roomie for a couple of evenings trying to explain to the clerk how two men, one present woman, and one absent woman needed to split the price of the room over several nights. There was also the quite interesting moment when at dinner with Beth, Michael, Jen, and Amanda of Lorna’s Laces, plus Mary Moran and her daughter of The Knitting Zone, when Taiu of Koigu called wanting to know where Rob was and when he was coming to rescue her from… well, that’s kind of where the evening goes south, but suffice it to say that we all made it home with our skins and unfairly commonly suspect honors intact.

As Rob has already said, it was so great meeting everyone, and we were amazed by the generosity and hospitality of so many of the people whose names are respected throughout the industry. We had a delightful conversation and subsequent tour of the Trendsetter line with Myrna Klein peppered generously with conversation and laughter shared with Barry, Heidi, and Jane, the unstoppable Edith Eig, and numerous others. We were thrilled to catch sight across the way of Frank Bielec of Mosey ‘n Me though we refused to go bother him since we’re not customers but giddy-stupid Trading Spaces fans. And it was so nice to be able to actually hug the necks of folks that we may have interacted with for some time but that whose presence we’ve never actually been in. Rob’s talked and even worked with Melissa Leapman for years, so it was almost like bumping into an old friend when we happened to walk by her in the market, but it didn’t even occur to me until later that she probably had little to no idea what we looked like.

The same is true of "Moma", "Yarn Goddess" or just plain Joan (though Joan is anything but just plain anything) of Cascade Yarns. Joan and Cascade have been with us almost as long as the shop has been in business, but we’d never met in person. The same is true of Lorna Miser; I think I might even have scared her a little when I first noticed her standing next to me and without thinking said, "Hi!" like I’d known her forever and just hadn’t seen her in ages.

In general, though, we just had a great time, met tons of truly wonderful people (vendors, reps, and other shop owners), and had an absolutely incredible time. We’re home, now, though. And despite being exhausted, we’re also completely gung ho for an amazing autumn and winter season in our new digs.

Look out, world. ThreadBear is gearing up for some exciting new offerings, ideas, and surprises that will knock your socks off.

Speaking of surprises, we got an e-mail today from a friend and client, Yvonne, that she and her husband have just gotten to meet their new adoptive daughter, Laine. Isn’t she gorgeous? Congratulations to Laine, her wonderful new brothers, Cactus Jack and Pistol Pete, and both Yvonne and Darrin. God bless you all, and the best of wishes for a wonderful life together!

How it’s going

Hey, y’all. How ever’body be?

Life’s finding its groove again at 703 Hutchins. My nose isn’t quite the Niagra it’s been, and Rob seems to be feeling damn-near chipper. I’ve gotten a few more preset shawl kits together at the business site, and things seem to be moving along nicely with the move.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re not moving tomorrow. Wouldn’t that be nice? Instead, we’ve heard from the folks we need to hear from, deals appear to be in motion, and there don’t appear to be any more significant snags in the offing. <knock wood>

That said, how would you like to see the new digs? Here’s the building.

And here’s why we’re not in it, yet.

Or more specifically, here‘s why we’re not in it, yet.

Rob spoke with the owner this morning, and though we’re not sure exactly why, demolition hasn’t begun yet. But it is, yet again, scheduled to begin next week. Apparently, it’s going to be taken down brick-by-brick by cheap labor. Great. So my question, as always, is so what does that mean for me? Maybe it will happen on time, and maybe, it won’t. Maybe we’ll eventually have a shop somewhere, but I’m beginning to wonder. Seriously, I know it’s all going to happen eventually, but my Aries-Cock nature is long past overdue for a meltdown. I want it NOW!!

ahem.

Ok. We found a gorgeous house, too. It’s about a block and a half from the new shop, and it’s amazing. Three bedrooms. Two and a half baths. Fireplace. Garage. And it looks like this.

Ain’t that a hoot?!?

Here are a couple of photos of the interior.


Living Room to Dining Room [facing SE]


Living Room to Foyer [E]


Dining Room to Living Room [NW]


Dining Room to Foyer [N]


In the Foyer [NW]


In the Kitchen [SE]


In the Kitchen [SW]


In the Kitchen [NW]

Sorry. No photos of the upstairs, yet. It’s a little bland, frankly. All the walls are white, and there’s hardwood floors in the hall and master bedroom and carpet in the two smaller front bedrooms. There’s a large bath with shower next to the master bedroom with a double vanity and tiled floors and a smaller tiled bath at the far end of the hall with a claw-foot tub, antique-style high-tank commode, and a pedestal sink. In general, it’s nice, clean, well-insulated, and all-together charming. Better yet, it’s the same price as the freakin’ money pit we’re moving out of. Can I get an Amen?!?

Hallelujah!

Thank you, sister.

So there you have it. That’s what we’re looking at. And that’s why I’m anxious. It’s kind of like knowing you’re getting an Okama GameSphere for Christmas and not being able to open the box.

Yes, Moma. As a matter of fact I am doing my best Yosemite Sam impression right about now.

She (my mom) is doing well, by the way. She’s still on chemo, but I’m quite proud to say that she had a little come-to-Jesus meeting with her doctors and told them that she a) was bored out of her mind, b) was going back to work, and c) needed whatever kind of anti-nausea medication they had to give her to get her there. She’s there, has been there for probably a month, now, and is going gangbusters. Of course, she’s still sick. She’s tired, too. But she’s going, and from every conversation we’ve had on the subject, she’s got a great attitude about the whole experience. That’s my Moma. *sigh* Wonder where she gets it? 😉

Have fun, folks!
See you in the funnies.