Greetings friends! Well, it's been two long weeks since we've had to temporarily close the doors to our dear shop in the West Loop. The store feels kind of sad and lonely with only me and Milo there, and nothing to break up the time except a visit from our trusty UPS man. What I wouldn't give to see some of your happy faces walking through the door again! Until that day, we'll keep chugging along in "online only" mode, hoping that it helps all of us get through this ordeal a little easier.
Here's an update on a few factoids from behind the scenes:
1. We have boxes, and tape, and packing material - It turns out that the key to becoming an online fulfillment center is all about the supplies. Seriously, the amount of aggravation that can be avoided just by having a ready supply of properly-sized boxes that you don't have to measure each time is substantial. After so many years of recycling cardboard boxes and foisting them off on people who will reuse them, it seems insane that I am now purchasing piles of boxes, but there you have it.
2. I have an awesome son - Considering the fact that his senior year of high school has been totally upended, Milo has spent very little time grousing and lots of time pitching in. It's only because of his help that I've been able to keep the business rolling along without dropping dead from exhaustion. I love you beyond words, Milo.
3. We can fulfill more orders - Because of my trusty teammate and all that we've learned together over the past two weeks, I think that we can handle a steady stream of orders and turn them around in no more than two business days. Therefore, I'm modifying our terms a bit with the hope that our local customers will find it easier to pick up some Easter goodies, send a gift to a friend or relative, or get a a little pick-me-up for themselves. As of Midnight on Friday, we'll no longer have a minimum order requirement. Any order amount will be accepted with delivery anywhere within Illinois costing only $5. Free shipping in Illinois will kick in at $75. Delivery to other states won't require a minimum either, but their shipping rates and free shipping threshold will be different. Unchanged will be the fact that there is no store pickup or curbside delivery as long as the Illinois State "Stay at Home" order is in effect. PLEASE continue to stay home!
4. Our sales staff still has not been laid off - There's not a ton that sales associates can do from home, but they've been pitching in where they can, and are receiving partial salaries because our wonderful customers have been supporting us with orders. THANK YOU!! And other good news on the money front - when the new Paycheck Protection Program kicks in, I'll be able to pay staff in full with back pay.
5. More jigsaw puzzles are on the way - On Sunday I think I'll take a picture of our puzzle section, because people who know our store will not believe their eyes. It's like there's this awful gaping maw of nothingness on that side of the store. But fear not! We WILL be able to get through the rest of the month, because more puzzles are on the way. I have orders in with seven different companies who are still operational, and at least two of those orders should arrive next week. When they're restocked they'll appear on the web site, and I'll be sure to post a red alert on social media.
That's all for now, folks! Hopefully we'll be able to see you in real life sooner rather than later. Take care!