Saturday, November 22, 2014

What are the odds?

If there's anything I have learned as a retailer in the past 12 (almost 13) years, it's that when things seem to be going OK, they're actually not.  While you're cooling your jets, thinking you finally have everything under control, the universe is carefully balancing the proverbial cherry on top of that shit sundae it's about to serve you. 

Our Ottawa location was broken into last night around 4:30 in the morning.  The glass in the front door was kicked in, the thief crawled through the resulting opening, disconnected our cash register drawer, and strolled out with it - I would hazard it took less than five minutes for the thief to complete the task.  The alarm was triggered, but response time was, *ahem*, slow. 15 minutes lapsed between when the alarm was triggered and I was notified, we received a call at home at 4:40am, we were at the store by 4:45am (like Starsky & fucking Hutch, yo!).  I had naively assumed an alarm system would deter criminals, however, I imagine that anyone in the habit of crash and dash knows that as far as priority goes, commercial break & enters are low on the totem pole of importance when it comes to determining police response.  The alarm simply served as notification that there was a mess to clean up.

When we arrived at the store, I was struck at how tidy the burglary was.  The items that were previously resting on top of the cash drawer were set aside on the counter, the cord was carefully unplugged, the cash drawer was simply gone; nothing else was disturbed..  Once the shock of the intrusion had subsided, I worried about more important things.  Like my hair.  I'm not a particularly vain person, but since cutting my hair short a few weeks ago, I have become increasingly aware of how hard short hair is to maintain.   My previous hairstyle of, oh, 20  years  required a whole 30 seconds to 'do'; short hair?  Not so much.  Just to whip it into a state of mediocrity requires time and product, neither of which were in abundance at 4:40 this morning.

PSA: Filters are your friend.
I went to bed last night with wet, uncombed hair, under the mistaken belief I would have plenty of time to flat iron it into submission this morning.  My usual bedhead was multiplied, like, to the nth power.   As absurd as it was, I was really concerned about how ridiculous I would look to the police once they came to the store (bedhead aside, I was in my pyjamas!).  The police officer didn't bat an eye at my dishevelled appearance (one can assume he's seen worse, although the selfie I took makes me look far better digitally than in person, due in large part to a combination of filters designed to hide liver spots and boob wrinkles.  Unedited version here). 

We filed a police report, not that it will accomplish much aside from providing a basis for an insurance claim.  The glass in the front door was replaced (that was the bulk of the damage), our cash drawer needs to be replaced, and we are out about $300 cash.  I also had our locks rekeyed on the off chance we had a spare key in the cash register. 

After all was said and done, I couldn't help but wonder if I was somehow responsible for what happened this morning.  We had a light over our porch that burnt out years ago (*years* ago!).  I had always meant to replace it, but it was on my long list of things to get around to (a list that remains largely ignored, am I right, Melissa?). Ironically, I was out walking the dog in the neighbourhood the night before and I thought there was a chance our back window might have been accidentally left open. I debated whether it was a waste of my time to go to the store and check the window, asking myself "What are the odds anyone would ever break into our store?"  I did stop by the store to check the window (it was closed), and I can't help but think that somehow putting that question out to the universe resulted in the answer I received within 36 hours.  The last time I asked a question of that nature was when I loaned our van to a friend in need.  As I made that offer, the thought "What are the odds she'll get into an accident?" briefly passed through my mind.  Not even ten minutes after she took possession of the van, another driver backed into her when she was stopped at a red light.  Kind of makes you wonder, huh?

On the bright side, once the police report was filed, I had time to kill while waiting for the door to get repaired, so I took care of paperwork I had been meaning to get to, and that burnt out light over our porch has also been fixed.  We will no longer keep cash on the premises at night so that if we are broken into again, there is nothing to take (I can't imagine cloth diapers have high street value, although I'm a little shocked the thief didn't think to grab a pair of Padraig slippers for someone on his Christmas shopping list, I mean seriously, how inconsiderate?). 

It's an unsettling feeling to know that there's not much besides a thin pane of glass from preventing this from ever happening again, but I would like to think we're at no more risk than we ever were.  I have already stopped by the store twice tonight (!!!), and while I've briefly debated booby trapping the store à la Home Alone, or lying in wait in the store at night with shoe polish on my face and a golf club in hand (to what?  Invite the intruder to play golf?), I am looking forward to a good night's sleep with no interruption.  Hopefully this is the first and last we see of this type of activity, I'm not keen to repeat the experience.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Woven wraps update!

OK, so it took a while.  A long, long while.  I have been intending to restock woven wraps for years, for over three years, to be exact.  We previously stocked Didymos woven wraps, perhaps considered the grand dame of the woven wraps, this brand has been established for over 30 years.  When I started carrying Didymos, we stocked a small selection of colorways and sizes, however, I quickly learned that woven wrap enthusiasts can be a hard crowd to please.  Anyone who appreciates the value of a woven wrap simply wouldn't be happy purchasing whatever we may happen to have on our shelf, and given that Didymos currently offers approximately 100 colorways (I shit you not) in seven sizes, pleasing everyone is a difficult (actually, impossible) task.  

In terms of stocking a woven wrap, I have been looking for something that would be a great entry level woven wrap, a brand that is well-established, but competitively priced.  My goal is to stock something that will appeal to anyone who is interested in babywearing, and considering their options.  Some people may be aware of what value a woven wrap offers, however, many new parents do not, the cost of some brands may induce sticker shock that will see customers' jaws hit the floor.

For the past three years, I have been approaching various wrap manufacturers to gather wholesale prices.  Most woven wrap manufacturers are located in Europe, meaning when I determine our cost, I have to factor in duty, brokerage fees, and high shipping rates.  Many woven wrap manufacturers are not really set up to accommodate wholesale clients, offering a marginal discount that is eaten up once the cost of importing the wraps is factored in.  What that means is that I would basically pay the equivalent of their retail price to stock their wraps.  As a business, I need to mark products up sufficiently in order to make it worthwhile to stock them.  I have to pay rent, staff, and utilities to keep our doors open. 

The phenomenon of 'showrooming' is one that has forced me to be keenly aware of how we price the products we sell.  If what we stock is deemed 'too expensive' by customers, we run the risk of paying thousands of dollars to have stock sitting on our shelf that will be treated as a library.  People will come in, take a look, ask us questions, then go home to order online.  As much as I personally loved using a woven wrap with our children, I have been apprehensive about taking the plunge again because of the fact we would essentially be competing with manufacturers to stock their carriers -- if we can't be competitive pricewise, it's a pointless venture (one manufacturer retails their woven wraps for the equivalent of $70 CAD, yet they have established a SRP within North America of $125 USD -- this would lead to showrooming of epic proportions!).

Enter Girasol, a well-respected German brand that has been in operation since the mid-1980s.  Their wraps are woven in Guatemala using weaving methods that have been around for hundreds of years.  Their wraps conform to European safety standards, and they are woven employing fair trade practices.   They offer a selection of beautiful colorways that should please most palates, and as an added bonus, they offer custom colorways -- we can design our own colorways that would be produced in a limited run.

Our opening order includes the following colorways in sizes 3.6 m, 4.6 m, and 5.2 m, which will accommodate all carries up to a woman's size 22:

Rainbow Herringbone
Graphite Diamondweave

Red ChiChi

Fireworks (lemon weft)

Colorway #25

Forest Diamondweave

Pricing for Girasols is as follows:

twill 3.6 meters$125.00
twill 4.6 meters $135.00
twill 5.2 meters$145.00

diamondweave/herringbone 3.6 meters $135.00
diamondweave/herringbone 4.6 meters$145.00
diamondweave/herringbone 5.2 meters$155.00

We are really thrilled to have Girasol on our shelves, we you hope you're as excited as we are!