Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Call for Convention Orders

I am afraid that I am giving short notice to wholesale customers in this Call for Convention Orders. It is, unfortunately, out of necessity as customers are starting to talk about attending Stitches West in February, and needing to get their stock in so they can dye it up and pack for the event.

Last year I managed what I thought was a pretty good campaign to impress on my customers who resell at conventions and fiber festivals, and the whole effort was to get people to plan ahead. It seems, though, that this will be a yearly battle and that I must start anew. Well, is this totally fair? I do have some customers who are much more organized than I am, and who have quietly pushed me to get their yarns to them with a couple of months' padding before their events. And, of course, there are the newbies who are tentative about how it all works and write me many eMails so that they can get in tune with how long a lead time they will need in order to have their yarn in hand with enough time to dye up a thoughtfully prepared color palette.

Then, there are those who just sort of go with the flow and pick up what they need when they need it. This is great and I am all for free spirits, believe me! It does make having enough for everyone a bit of a problem.

Over the spring and summer there was a big, intercontinental pow-wow which went on for about six weeks, all aimed at getting Wool2Dye4 set up as a Standing Order customer at the merino mill. This process probably could have been abbreviated if I had only understood all the elements which go into play for the entire process. It is certainly not as easy as calling up and saying I want this, this, and that, but involves procurement, scheduling, accounting, forecasting, and other steps at the local level. On the worldwide scene, it involves bidding at international fiber market level, and high finance at a level much higher than I can reach.

So I am beginning to appreciate that tooth-pulling process I went through last spring and summer to get to my Standing Order phase in the grand scheme of things. But since supply and demand remain the basis of all economies, I have had to learn that my demand figures in heavily into the supply I can expect. And, the same goes for my customers and me. It is simply not possible to give my customer base what they want and need if they do not let me know with some warning time built in.

Plan Ahead,then, became my mantra all of last year. Now, I wish I had kept it up! Was I worried that my newsletters were getting boring with all the talk about getting in orders early and helping me keep organized, or was I getting bored with writing the same thing over and over again, myself? I think it was the latter. Man! I should take my own advice sometimes.

Background. There is so much work in the background when it comes to participating at any level in these fiber festivals, conventions, and workshops. They are concentrated in spring and fall months, primarily. Here we are just eight weeks away from the first major fiber event, Stitches West in Santa Clara, California over the weekend of February 17-20, 2011. If my newsletter today scared fire into absolutely everyone, then we should just make the deadline, but this will mean some long nights and weekends stirring the dyepot. I just know it. Luckily, the Standing Order will prop up available inventory on the best selling yarns, and the new British yarns have all been spun in one ton amounts, literally. I will wait 24 hours and see just how many dyers have taken my urgent call for orders to heart, cross my fingers, and plow into another busy festival season.

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