Oh boy, so many things have changed over the last few weeks, I'm not sure where to start this update. Scratch that, because actually, I do.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
We're still here and doing pretty well, all things considered, and that's entirely due to all of the wonderful people like YOU who have shopped with us and offered kind words of encouragement through all of this. We miss you terribly, and hope that you and your families are weathering this crisis as best you can. We truly do have some of the best customers in the whole world. Thank you SO MUCH, and we hope that we'll see you in the shop sometime soon!
Speaking of sometime soon.... the next phase approaches.
Phone orders, online orders, curbside pickup and shipping, we've gotten the hang of all that. Birthday presents are still getting wrapped up with cheery paper and festive bows, and if you need graduation presents or Father's Day presents, we've got you covered! All of the usual work is still going on and being done by our regular sales staff, who have been back in the shop for over two weeks now. It's been odd, but we've gotten into the swing of working together again, only now 6 feet apart and with masks on.
And now here we are getting ready for the day when we'll be able to have customers in the store once again. In-store shopping will probably start the first week in June, and it's exciting and kind of terrifying all at the same time. Things will definitely be different and we'll post specific details on social media later, but here's a quick rundown of what to expect when we see you in the shop again. Capacity will be limited, health measures like masks and hand sanitizing will be required, all demos and play tables will be put away, and we'll ask that people limit the amount of time they spend in the shop. We'll be encouraging people to shop more with their eyes and less with their hands , which honestly makes us very sad. And most unfortunate of all, with the health and safety measures we need to implement for staff and customers alike, we don't anticipate being able to host any in-store events for the foreseeable future.
The good news is that it's not all just about sanitizing stations and acrylic shields; some things are happening inside the store that I think people will enjoy. For example, displays are being rearranged to make the shop more spacious, and products are being re-merchandised to make browsing easier. Some new artwork and other fun visuals will be installed. We'll still offer shipping and curbside pickup for people who prefer those methods, and we'll also be adding private shopping appointments for people who need a little more time in the store. Online shopping has been working pretty well for us, but our website will continue to get better, with more products added every day, including all the little pesky stuff like dice and RPG minis. All in all, the new normal will take some getting used to, but it's not too bad and we'll make the best of it we can.
In addition to news about upcoming changes within the store, I wanted to quickly mention some things about product availability. Getting merchandise into the store has certainly been an interesting challenge for the past two months, as manufacturers and distribution centers around the world have shut down or moved to operating with skeleton crews. Back in February when I was at Toy Fair, the big buzz was all about the impact of the virus on Chinese manufacturers, and how that would affect our industry's all-important 4th quarter sales. To think that was the extent of our worries, it almost seems quaint now! Anyway, every day we get questions about when specific things will be back in stock, and the answer is still usually "We're not sure." Merchandise IS starting to move again, but slowly, which is to be expected with all of the safety precautions that are being taken throughout the supply chain. Orders that used to arrive in a few days or a week can now take a month or more, and sometimes only a fraction of what was ordered arrives. But overall our stock is looking pretty good, with just a few areas that are still a bit wonky:
- Jigsaw puzzles - We have been well stocked with puzzles for most of the past two months, and usually have hundreds of images in stock. You need puzzles? WE HAVE LOTS OF PUZZLES!! But the big unknown is still Ravensburger. They have not been able to keep up with demand, and there's no prediction for when they'll be able to fulfill orders more completely. If you're a Ravensburger puzzle fan, snap those up when you can. Most other puzzle companies are slower to fulfill orders than usual but they're chugging along, and we continue to get new jigsaw puzzle orders in every week.
- Hobby games - Oh boy, the hobby game supply would have been rather tumultuous this year even without the pandemic, because of distribution changes that are scheduled for July 1st. But with the pandemic and the complete shutdown of a major distributor it's been a real struggle, and we've been out of stock on a lot of bestselling games. Thankfully things should settle down in July, though, both with new releases and old standbys.
- Paint-by-numbers - These have been a real hit during the pandemic, and we currently have very little stock. However, two of our PBN suppliers have resumed shipping, so we should see more coming into the shop soon.
- Lego - Lego will be very hit or miss for a little while longer, but they're predicting a return to normal operations by August.
Well, that's it for now. Thank you once again for shopping with us, for reading our posts, and for telling your friends about us. We truly appreciate it. If you have any questions, suggestions, or good jokes to share, don't hesitate to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's wishing you and your family good health, happiness, and lots of fun around the table.
Owner of Cat & Mouse Games