Fifteen years ago, when we sold our very first rings, it was just Gary and me. We worked all the hours of the day, and a good many of the night ones, too, but we were having so much fun, it didn't feel like work. When our business grew so that there weren't enough hours to get it all done, we hired some nice people to come and help us everyday. That was great fun, too; busy and crowded, but so much laughter, so many good times. When the economy tanked and our business with it, one by one, we had to let all our nice people go. It was an awful time for us, we were so sad.
It took a good while, but over time we adjusted to the quiet and began enjoying our 'just us' days, like we did at the beginning. Now that the economy is bustling and our business with it, we're once again in the position of having more work than we can do. We've talked about looking for some nice people to help us, as we did before, but that conversation just made us both realize how much we like the way we work now... just us. So we've decided to go the other way. Instead of adding people to handle more business, we're going to squeeze our business down to what just the two of us can handle comfortably.
The first change is that we're going to focus all of our time and energy on what we actually do -- which is making rings -- and phase out everything that our customers can get elsewhere. That means that we won't be restocking anything but rings. As we sell off our stock of clasps, tools, etc., the items will just disappear from the website. Click Close Out in the menu to see everything that's going. When it's gone, it's really gone. (But we'll list resources so you'll know where to go look for it.)
Another change is that we've taken all the bronze and copper rings off our menu. Sales of those are so infrequent that our wire supplier doesn't want to make the wire for them anymore, and we can't make a case for why they should... so they're gone. We still have some wire so if you have a copper or bronze emergency, write and tell us what you need. We can probably still make it. Copper and bronze wire is still available in our store, as are copper and bronze clasps. None of those items will be restocked.
The biggest change won't happen til this time next year, but at the beginning of 2019, we plan to switch to a different business model -- business-to-business -- and stop accepting new customers, at least for awhile. The idea is that, since we can't accept all possible orders, since we have to disappoint some customers, better to disappoint casual customers who shop with us occasionally, rather than our business customers who are selling designs based on our ring sizes and who order from us all the time. If we have to prioritize, it must be in favor of those most loyal to us. So this is what we're going to do....
At the end of this year, we're going to sort our customers by their 2018 order totals. (The person who spends the most with us this year will be #1, the one who spends the next most will be #2, etc.) When the website changes to B2B in January of 2019, we'll keep open the accounts of as many of our customers as we think we can reasonably handle, beginning with #1. When we have as much as we believe we can do, we'll make a cut off point and close all the accounts after that point.
There isn't a way to keep from disappointing some people when we have to cut back our workload; disappointment is inevitable. What we can do, though, is make sure the process favors those who depend on us the most, so it's fair. Totals begin accumulating when our website reopens in January, and will be complete when we close the website for Christmas 2018.
Just think... this is our last year as the retail business we've always been... maybe our last year ever having new customers! Amazing.
It's going to be a whole new phase of the adventure. Happy New Year.