Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No easy way

There really is no easy way to say this...

After almost 5 years of selling the best scrapbook supplies, we are closing our doors.

Typically, these announcements begin with 'I'm sad to announce...' or 'I wish I had happy news to report....' but not this announcement.

The past 5 years have been fantastic to say the least but with a changing atmosphere in the crafting world and some personal changes - we have decided to close the store.  I am happy about this change since we are going out on top.

We are not struggling financially.  In fact, its quite the opposite.

Sadly, there are some important factors that led me to this decision.  Its been in the back of my mind since earlier this year but I decided to try and make it on my own.  What do I mean by this?

First, the business has grown over the past 18-24 months.  Its grown so much that I can't handle it on my own.  I have been able to hand off some important duties to Alyssa McGrew who has handled everything with ease.  She is on the other side of the US though and sometimes I need a partner who is right beside me.

There have been a few assistants and order packers but none of them have lasted.  No one is as committed to this as I am.  I recently decided, after the departure of my last packer, to go it alone.  Of course, I had help (a lot of help) from my fantastic husband.  He knows more about this industry than any other man out there.  While working a full time job and helping me raise a wild 4 year old, we've been running this business together.  While business is great, its not enough for him to leave the safety of a 'real' job.  This leaves me wearing all of the hats a business owner can possibly wear.

It means that there is always a part of my life that suffers.  If I take a day off to rest or spend with my family, the business suffers.  If I take time away from family to work on orders, the blog, product etc - then my family suffers.  Up until the last 6 months, I've been able to balance everything.

With a 4 year old demanding more of my time and energy, getting into sports, school activities etc - this leaves less time to focus on the business.  I spent more time with him this summer than ever before and I loved it!  I realized the business was keeping me from the best part of my life.  I'm trying to create memories to scrapbook but I barely have time to make the memories let alone scrap them.

My husband and I took some time out last month to sit down and talk about it.  We weighed the options and then listed the business for sale.  I have slowly adjusted to life as it will be.

As of today, November 1st, we will begin shutting down the store.  There will be no more new product in stock.  No more pre-orders.  We will handle the current pre-orders as we expected to have the product in before making this announcement.  See below for more information.  The store will officially close and no more orders will be accepted as of December 31st.  Anything not purchased at that point will be donated.

What does this mean?

It means that we would love to keep this going but its virtually impossible.  I never intended to become the biggest store out there.  I wanted to maintain the small store feel.  I never wanted to overcharge or ruin a shopping experience with shipping fees.  I was a shopper before I opened and I based my little store on how I liked to shop.  I know we have many satisfied customers and we will miss every one of you.  The growth was expected and at the right time, I added employees to help with the growth.  Unfortunately, they were not dedicated enough.  This is not an easy job - I never expected it to be.

So, here are the basics.

As stated above, all current pre-orders WILL ship.  We will handle all orders for the new lines as we get the lines in.  I had expected to have everything in by now but there were a few product issues that held up orders.  Product availability has been a harsh reality for us this time around.

We will keep everyone updated here on the blog and on Facebook when lines come in.

We will not be doing any special orders or re-orders at this time.  My goal is to sell off as much of the product - of course.  We have a discount schedule in mind and will stick to it until everything is sold off.

Shipping.  We are keeping the minimum shipping for Free shipping but the minimum will go up slightly.  Flat rate shipping for all orders less than the minimum will remain.  International shipping fees will change.  You will be able to view the new fees on the shipping table.

Coupons - There will be no coupon codes from this point on.  This includes the Birthday Club and any coupon codes we have.  ALL Stash Cash codes are valid until 12/31/11.  At that time, all balances will revert to $0.00.  We will not be issuing any Stash Cash from this point on.

Order Fulfillment - as stated above, there have been some personal changes.  We typically fill orders within 3-4 days (unless we have a big sale).  We will try as hard as we can to stick to this timeframe but orders may take longer to go out.  If you have a rush order, please let us know.  We will do our best to make sure the order gets to you as quickly as possible.

Returns/Exchanges - in almost 5 years I think I've handled 2 returns.  At this point, all sales are final.  Just had to put that in writing.

Contests/Challenges - we still have a box full of giveaway prizes so expect to see some contests over the next month.  We currently have two running now.  Feel free to join in and win some free product.

Everything else will run as usual through November.  The Stash Girls will still work with a kit this month and will continue to post inspiration on the blog.  Beginning December 1st, the only updates you'll see here will be product updates.

While I am sad to make the announcement, I am also happy.  I have loved every minute (okay almost every minute) of running this store and I wish I could keep it going.  But like I said - something always suffers.  An email isn't responded to fast enough.  An order doesn't get out when it should.  I put the time frames in place to help give me a window to respond but if emails aren't answered within hours, we get a second email or even a phone call.  I understand that every one of you is important and we wouldn't be where we are today without you but I can't keep up the pace I have been.

I know I'll be asked what led me to this decision.  Here are some of the major points:

1.  My son.  He means the world to me but he's high maintenance.  He needs the personal attention and since my husband works long and odd hours - that attention falls to me.

2. Product Availability - there have been increasing issues with product availability.  I used to be able to order a line and then reorder anything I ran out of.  Not now.  I'm lucky to get my original order from the manufacturer.  They run out of an item and don't reorder.  Product is so exclusive.  Larger stores get priority.

3. Product Issues - We've seen more and more product not ship due to production issues.  Either the item couldn't be produced on time or it arrived in a state that was not suitable for sale.  This usually happens with the popular items - such as the Mini Smash.

4. Employees - as the business stands at the moment, we need employees to run this.  Seeing that they are in short supply these days, things can't run smoothly here.  Same as managing personal vs business life.  If I spend too much time filling orders, emails don't get answered.  Something suffers.

I am in no way complaining.  Please do not take this as one big complaint.  There is frustration on my part but only because my store can't be what it needs to be with some of the issues I face.  When a manufacturer tells me my entire order is shipping only for it to arrive partially filled - that upsets the delicate balance of this once well oiled machine.

I have cried over this decision.  I have had a love/hate relationship with it lately.  In the end, this was the best decision for everyone.

Starting today, 11/1/11, you will find items marked down in the shop.  There are lines that are very low in stock.  I do not know what kind of order volume we will encounter.  We will keep inventory as updated as possible.  We will continue to mark product down until it is gone.  My hope is to sell every last bit but whatever is left over on 12/31/11 will be donated.  As stated, our hours of operation will not be what they currently are.  I will not be putting in anymore 18 hour days.  :)

And because we LOVE a challenge, we will be out of the office for a personal reason from 11/4 - 11/11.  We will return on 11/12 and pick up where we left off.

I believe I have answered every question I can think of at this point.  If you have any questions, please email us through the Contact Us link or admin (at) yourscrapbookstash.com.  You may also leave a comment on this post.

I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for making this little store what it is.  I have enjoyed getting to know some of you personally over the last 5 years.  I want to thank the Stash Girls - past and present.  They have been the face of this family for 5 years.

Erica

16 comments:

April Y said...

I am so sad to read this!! But as a mother, I totally understand, Erica! You have been the most wonderful and generous store owner! Always helpful and super friendly!
Thank you very much for all that you have done for me and other shoppers! We will miss you and YSS!
Wishing you all the best, and enjoy every little things in your life! Take good care!
Cheers!

April said...

Wow. Erica, from your post, I can tell you put alot of thought into making this decision and it really does sound like it's what's best for you and your family, which is what matters the most! You've been a wonderful store to shop from and I'll definitely miss you, but I'll also look forward to happy updates and some scrappiness in your future. ;) I wish nothing but the best for you...
- April W

TeenaBugg38 said...

((((((Erica))))))))

I really don't have words.......you will be missed, thats for sure. But only you can decide what is best for you and your family. I know it wasn't an easy decision to make...I wish you nothing but the best!!! Kids grow so fast....you can never get time past back so make the most of these years!!! You won't regreat.

Jennie M said...

I know that I personally am SO sad to hear this ... as I LOVE YSS as a DT member and as a customer. I finally found my SB home on the web!!!! However, I completely and totally understand and wish you nothing but luck -- you are an outstanding person and you will be very, very missed in the SB retail world!!!!

Hester said...

So sorry to hear but i can fully understand, I stopped working fulltime a few years ago, and still enjoy to spend much time with my kids and driving them around to sports etc. I will surely miss you a lot as i loved the choice you made of supplies in your shop. I can imagine the decision was not easy.

Cassie said...

I completely understand. I am also running a small scrap store by myself and I am so disappointed that I can't get my orders from manufacturers. I hope that you find peace and enjoy your extra time!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

WillieburgScrapper said...

I am so SO sad to read this but I fully understand. I live in NYC- I wish I was close by I would have eagerly joined the cause and stayed. This is an ending but you are still talented, still scrappy, still computer savvy- I expect to see you popping up somewhere else when the economy settles down and your son is a little older. Hugs to you.

So~Inkin~Cute said...

oh wow!!! I am sad, but I also tooootally understand! I have known you for the majority of the years you have been in business. I wish I could have shopped more w/ you, but after losing my job two years ago things have just never been the same for me.

I'll be shopping today. I am fortunate to have a GC w/ you that I haven't used yet. I am soooo bummed though, I was on the site last week and had a cart started, but didn't have the time to finish checking out. I was trying to use the coupon code you had before the month ended! LOL!

Erica, you guys have always been great. Thank you for everything.

Miwa said...

*sniff, sniff* You and your store will be greatly missed! I've really enjoyed shopping here, as well as being inspired by your amazing DT and fun contests. I totally understand your decision and wish you and your family well. Thanks for being great all around! :)

Nitasha said...

I'm so sad to hear that you all are closing! YSS is my favorite online retailer with amazing prices and even more fab customer service! Well wishes to you and your family! Thanks so much for all that you have done!

sylv said...

I am REALLY going to miss my "go to store"! Whenever I'm looking for an item, I check out YSS first because I know I will get a good deal, excellent customer service and speedy shipping. Closing the store certainly sounds like it's the best thing (and the right thing) to do for you and your family but, I'm still going to miss you :(

Joni Parker said...

My first reaction is ...NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!! OMG, what am I gonna do?... I gotta find a new store... ?? Ok..so it's not about me... I'm grateful for all you've done and regretfully understand your decision! I noticed you said you put it up for sale?....does that mean that someone could buy it and continue the tradition?

Keri said...

Another joining in with nothing but LOVE for both you and YSS!!! This has long been my very favorite online shop. I have never experienced ANYTHING less than the best customer service from you, Erica...it's much appreciated and will be greatly missed! I will for SURE get my shop on one last time, LOL. I wish you and yours success, happiness, and lots of time for both memoryMAKING and memorySCRAPPING in the near future. :)
Thanks for everything!

isabel scrap said...

Sad to read this, because i always love to order in your shop, the customer service is always perfect !
I wish you the best for the future.

lau said...

As a customer from way back, I've always admired your compromise with your clients, what a great business you ran! You have my admiration and understanding being a mom myself.
Go chasing after that boy!!!!!

juanita said...

Erica,

As much as I'd like to shout "nooooooo!" and beg you to reconsider, it's obvious you put a ton of thought into your decision and are looking forward to having more time with your beautiful family :)

Thank you for being one of the absolute best scrapbook stores online. Thank you for running your business professionally, for valuing your customers, and for the integrity and kindness you have shown.

I joked once that I wouldn't have spent a dime elsewhere if you would just carry everything, by everyone, but it was true. Once I found your shop, YSS became my first stop for scrappy goodness. The only time I went elsewhere was for a brand you didn't carry.

You and your family should be tremendously proud of the business you built, and of the solid reputation that you earned in the process. You are DEFINITELY going out on top.

Thank you for everything over the years. I wish you a fantastic future and all the wonderful things that you and your family deserve.