Posted by Bill on January 27, 2018
Difference in size.
Hi, everyone. Over the past year, I have been slowly migrating my soaps from a large box to a smaller sized box to become more eco-friendly. The benefits is that if you order soaps from me, I can fit more soaps in the box before the next tier of boxes have to be used.
And, you will be helping with the environment. Same great soap, smaller boxes.
Posted by Bill on October 24, 2017
3.5 hours from home
I have been asked to attend some events. Most, I have politely declined for some reasons. And, in giving some thought to the distance and area I will travel for events, I have a rather large area from home that I will travel. Most of this are covers a lot of the larger metropolitan areas within a 3.5 hour drive.
- Louisville, Lexington and most of Kentucky
- Nashville, TN and a fair portion of Tennessee.
- Indianapolis, IN and most of Southern Indiana.
- Columbus, Cincinnati, OH and a good portion of Ohio
Most of the time I have a few criteria that covers most of my acceptance into events:
- How long has the event been around for?
- first or 50th event?
- first year or 10th year?
- How many people typically walk in and pay for the event? 100 or 1000 (or 10,000)?
- I will ask for real numbers from prior events, not estimates, number of staff, or volunteers.
- I have been to one event where there was more security and staff than people walking through the door.
- Other events, the food vendors had more people walking to their concession stand more than we had people visiting our booth.
- These are the events I tend to avoid, or if I am already there, will not return.
- Are these one or two day events?
- Two-day events, I prefer. I can set up, settle in and get comfortable.
- Is the event indoors or outdoors?
- I have a preference to indoor events. It keeps my equipment from looking like I had camped in it. (moisture, dust and more)
- If in the sun, I will set up another canopy behind, or use my 10×20 to make a shop and sitting space out of the sun.
- I will also park my trailer behind the 10×20 and will typically take up a 20×20 space with the trailer, canopy and camping area
- I will camp with my space.
- Is the event easily reachable?
- Can I drive there within 3 hours on highway without a lot of back-road travel? (I frequently have a trailer and driving in the country may not be possible). True story… I attended an event as a participant back in the “hollers” of East Kentucky. Had I brought my trailer, I would probably still be stuck on that road today.
- Does the event let out early enough so I can get home in time to unpack, get to sleep and wake up for work without dragging the next day?
- closing at 7, 2 hours to pack, 3 hours to travel, 1 hour to unpack and hopping a time zone gets me home pretty late
- closing at 5 gives me more time to get home at a reasonable hour under the same circumstances
And, a few more things I consider, and I will usually consider your event. If I decline, there is usually a reason why. Most have been the following:
- I have a prior commitment
- I may have an event already scheduled.
- I don’t double-book for events as it is rude to “find something better” to do. There is no integrity in that.
- You are too far – while I do travel about 3 hours to events, I am not able to travel an additional 3 hours for your event.
- Pittsburgh is still a 6 hour drive for me even though Columbus, OH is three hours from there.
- I also get 12 MPG while carting my trailer on the interstate; One event a few years ago was four hours away, I did great at this venue. In traveling, I filled up three times and got home past midnight. When the financial smoke cleared, I may have made about $40-50 for the weekend. Not bad and better than a loss, but it didn’t allow me a chance to restock the items I had sold.
- I have lots of things to cart in, is the facility easy for vendors?
- A lot of my equipment is heavy and cumbersome and will take multiple trips.
- Stairs don’t work too well for me and a facility with one elevator, a long walk from the parking lot, to the door, then down a long hallway, up two steps and take the elevator to the 3rd floor (true story about a hotel’s convention center) doesn’t support vendors or our customers if they have to hunt for us.
- Will the venue’s parking lot support a truck with a trailer? A parking garage at an event typically does not have a pull-through for a trailer and my truck with trailer takes up 4-5 parking spaces.
- Is the event outdoors and is it in the summer? If the answer to both are “yes”, I will decline.
- I had an event with a scare. In mid-June, we had an event where we set up our canopy and unpacked. The event was good, but the time after the event was bad. My husband returned to work the next day and was shaky. We checked him into the hospital and he had very elevated high blood pressure at unhealthy levels, and was kept overnight for observation and sent home with a prescription. We did everything right, but being in an open field, no shade outside of the canopy, in 90+ degree heat for two days, there’s going to be something that breaks. Unfortunately, it was him.
- I have made the “executive decision” to stop all of my summer outdoor events as of 2018 for the reasons above.
- Outdoor events tend to have issues with weather. What if we are rained out?
- Will the room be locked up at night?
- One event I went to as a participant was near the food court at a mall. While there were security, I could not realistically, with confidence leave my products overnight.
Otherwise, I look forward to your events. If you are looking to find out when and when I am going to be, I am already starting to fill up my 2018 event calendar.
Posted by Bill on August 10, 2017
I keep saying I need to post more often, but I SERIOUSLY need to post more often. Having two or three updates a year is far too few. This one makes the third update for 2017, and I have so many things to share.
The spare time is occupied with the honey-do list at home, coupled with spending time at the workshop making soaps and other goodies along with planning and attending shows and events. There are so many things to tell you of all that is happening.
Busy Work space
The workshop is open for business… kinda. It is open by appointment. The question I got the most was, “where are you located”? For the longest time, I was not able to say that I had an actual location, but now I can. We are located at 1860 Mellwood Avenue, Studio 241. It is by appointment because while I can manage to be at the workshop, I also have a full time job and I can’t just leave. But, I can meet you after work if you call and say, “I would like to meet you”. I have soaps to smell, sage to feel, salt lamps to enjoy and other goodies you can find in my online shop.
I am also cutting out the Outdoor Summer shows. During one event in June, my other half joined me for an outdoor event for both days. Set up, tear down and everything in between. The down side, while we were under a canopy, we were also in the sun in the middle of a field. We were prepared as far as water, snacks, food, hydration, sun screen and rest. We had a scare on Monday when he felt dizzy at work and finally went to the hospital for having very high blood pressure and was kept overnight. Long story short this is a reason that people with high blood pressure should not spend time in hot tubs or saunas, and we were in heat all day. With that, and heeding a warning, I am going to continue doing indoor shows year round, and limit my outdoor events to Spring and Fall.
I am also re-creating a vision for the yummy soaps I make. While I have many best sellers in my collection for sale, it hit me that I want to have ALL of my soaps be best sellers. If I make a batch of 60, I would like it to be sold out in a matter of months (or sooner) and not linger for a long time. This is why I have several items on sale. Not that there is anything wrong with these soaps, they are just not popular and I am worried they will run out of scent before they go home with someone. So, I have cut the price, online and offline do they can go home.
I am also planning on two of my largest events of the year, and stocking up for these. The Universal Life Expo in September and the Louisville Christmas Show here in December. While they are several months away, they will be here before I know it. As it takes nearly 2 months for a batch of soap to cure, I had better plan and stock up now. 🙂
Posted by Bill on April 9, 2017
Look for the S
Look for the S for security. I am either joining the 20th century, or I have been paying attention to the security guys I work with during my full time job. Either way, I am “locking down” my online shop to use the https for security reasons.
Some of the log files I have been reading have been yielding some very questionable results. Not so much of a breach, but just some things that are being sniffed out (sniffers are looking for graphics that are not there, trying to browse to links that do not exist) and looking for a POSSIBLE security breaches, which I do not have. My site and my web provider are very good when it comes to keeping the site patched and updated. With this in mind, I have decided to add another layer of security for the shop my the next step.
I am also working on a cost-saving measure. Square (Point of Sale) has an interface I can use with my online shopping cart (called an API). The processor I am currently using charges me about $25 a month for use, even if I don’t use it (no purchases made by my online store that month). In addition, if there is a purchase on my online store, I get a nice bill for use of their gateway (per transaction), plus a percentage of the transaction fees. Some years ago, I shopped around, and it was actually cheaper than my previous processor and I am currently paying about $300 per year for use… if there are not any purchases online. Now, there are more options available and I can feel free to shop around. The only caveat is that I need to have the httpS enabled which is in the works. Square currently charges me 2.75% per transaction, and it can “sit” there for months without being used, and I do not get charged for it sitting there.
Now the other side of this is putting it into place. As I use OS Commerce for my shop’s program, I’ll have to get with both programs to smoosh something together to get them both to work together. This should be fun!
(by the way, thank everyone for letting me know there was a problem with my shopping cart… it’s working now)