Oh, What Fun It 'Twas!
This past Monday, we had our first FLD team meeting of the year. We spent the majority of the time planning for the new year, but it also served as the perfect opportunity to reminisce about the joys we experienced as a retailer during the holiday season.
We’ll start by saying that we are hopeful everything YOU saw and experienced as a customer was positive, and you felt that we had it all together. Because we truly did, about 80 percent of the time. The other 20? Well, we’re going to be honest with you. Despite our very best efforts, nothing could have prepared us for what happened late last year!
So drumroll please, as we share the Top 10 FLD Follies of the 2019 holiday season….
#1. It’s move-in Thursday at the IX Center Christmas Connection. We arrived at the center in two fully-packed vehicles ready to set up our storefront for the three-day event. We brought mom’s two-wheel dolly, the only transporter that didn’t violate the Center’s union rules. Upon arrival, Mary Beth smartly placed a table on the bottom of the dolly to serve as a base, allowing us to secure and transport a lot of items at once using bungy cords. The unloading dock was literally in one corner of the massive center while our booth was in the opposite corner. As Kelly wheeled in the cart, we noticed people staring at us, and Mary Beth thought it was because of her amazing use of the table. In reality, it was because the dolly’s left wheel was slowly coming unhinged (thanks for the warning, people). About one-third of the walk to our booth, the wheel came off completely. We unloaded every darn thing, put the wheel back on as best as we could, reloaded and continued the walk. We repeated this process several times. Mom finally asked another exhibitor to borrow their dolly, which they obliged. It was likely the longest unloading process in the history of IX Center events and the most comical thing anyone has ever seen.
#2. It’s now Sunday, the final day of the show and teardown time. We brought Mary Beth’s dolly this time. And wouldn’t you know it, the SAME DAMN WHEEL on the new dolly fell off. But that’s not all. We helped our neighbor, an artist named Kaaren from Rochester, New York, pack up her space. As Mary Beth was pushing Kaaren’s dolly full of boxes containing glass artwork, her left wheel fell off. We can’t make this stuff up, people. We literally felt that our dad was pulling the ultimate prank on us from heaven. Thanks, Dad.
#3. Despite the wheel issues, the IX Center Christmas Connection was an incredible weekend for us. We set a sales goal for the entire weekend and surpassed it within the first three hours of day one. Needless to say, our Holiday and Winter Collections, which took months to prepare, were hit pretty hard, and we were left scrambling to make new inventory. The success of the event put us in a make-sell-make-sell pattern that we never fully recovered from until we closed for the holidays on December 20! That said, it was a wonderful problem to have, and we thank you so much. And now we know how to better prepare for the 2020 holiday season, we hope!
#4. On the Monday after the IX Center Christmas Connection, we held an open house for our local VIP customers, which ended one hour before our Holiday and Winter Collections launched online. We spent the entire day making new inventory for both the event and the launch. In fact, the party started at 5 p.m. and at 4:30, Mary Beth’s house was a disaster, she was in her bathrobe and mom and Kelly were just leaving to shower and make it back before the first guest arrived. But when that doorbell rang just after 5 p.m., champagne was poured, and no one would have guessed the state of craziness we were in less than an hour before!
#5. As a result of the unexpected demand, we also ran out of our custom earring placards, the kraftpaper cards used to hold finished earrings. And, it would take three weeks for the new ones to arrive. So, mom spent hours taking out-of-season earrings off their cards and reusing those cards for the new earrings.
#6. To prepare for the launch of our Winter and Holiday Collections, we held a photo shoot at a local restaurant and golf course in November. Despite the gorgeous interior, we expected the restaurant and lobby to be decorated for the holidays, providing the perfect backdrop for our shoot. However, there wasn’t even a tree up! Thankfully, the manager carried up a large Christmas tree from the basement, which we dragged all over the place to ensure our backdrop had some holiday cheer!
#7. In December, we had the opportunity to create a custom bulk order for an amazing California-based company. They gave us the creative freedom to design any earring using one or both of their brand colors. Long story short, it took us far too long to create a custom earring that we loved for the client. At one point, Mary Beth was taking selfies of creations and sending them to Mom and Kelly at 3 a.m. as the order had to ship out the next day! However, we put our heads together that next morning, came up with a set we absolutely loved, and prepared the order for shipment, only to discover we had ANOTHER WEEK before the deadline. We laughed (and maybe cried), but it was done, and everyone, including the client, was happy.
#8. We’ve lost count of all of the little things that happened, but there are a few highlights. Like when we received a new shipment of clear, plastic bags used to store and display our earrings, only to discover that the punch holes were all offset. Can you imagine the feeling of seeing your normally perfectly lined rows of earrings all helter-skelter on the displays thanks to the holes not being punched in the center!?
#9. Or, when we found out that our studs were on backorder! Or realized the night before an event that we were completely out of holiday organza bags, so we ordered several hundred more via Amazon pick-up and drove to Akron the next day, on our way to the event!? By the way, has anyone ever done that before? So very cool and organized!
#10. And finally, when your cellular connection is too low and the Wi-Fi connection fails in the middle of an event with a long line of people waiting to ring out. Yep, that happened too. And while it wasn’t fun at the time, we survived. But just barely!
We hope you found some humor in the memories we shared. Because that’s what those now are to us – moments we will never forget, and moments we will learn and grow from. As Mom said, if we didn’t laugh, we’d cry. So, the best thing we could do during all of the uncomfortable moments was laugh.
Despite everything we shared above, we had an amazing first full holiday season with you. Yes, it was stressful and difficult at times, but there were so many things that made us laugh and smile and feel SO very proud to do what we do. So, thank you for laughing with us and for making this perfectly imperfect journey possible.
Mary Beth, Kelly & Carol