Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Friday Night Sale

Good Morning,

We will be having a Friday Night Sale, this Friday April 1st, beginning at 1:00 PM Central Standard Time (US).  All inventory will be deactivated  Friday morning for pricing adjustments and reactivated at 1:00 PM.  With prices that have already been reduced by roughly 10%, we will mark all of the remaining items down to 20-25% off of their normal retail prices.

As a side note, the custom list is wide open right now.

Hope everyone has a great week!


7:30 PM - My Friday night thoughts:

For those of you that have actually been following along, you know that Friday late afternoons are our favorite time of the week.  A few hours and a couple of adult beverages at The Tavern with our closest friends.  I can tell you that it doesn't get much better than that for us.

We've  had a good day with the FNS thus far.  We began with 15 and we're now down to 6 sticks remaining in inventory.  Honestly, we're a bit confounded on how we got to 15 to begin with, but that's probably another story, one that I'm unable to tell at this particular moment.  In other words... I got nothin'. 

We're going to do one final markdown overnight, and what doesn't sell goes back into inventory at it's normal retail price tomorrow morning.  As far as I'm concerned, if it's not going to sell, it's not going to sell at it's retail price, not a discounted price.  So, as my good friend Denise say's... that's how I roll.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

Good Morning,

I just wanted to take a minute and wish everyone a Happy Easter.  Between Church (if you're so inclined), Easter Egg hunts and gathered family meals with loved ones, I hope everyone has a safe and happy Holiday.

This past week Erin had a birthday, and I kind of blew it.  Ladies, here's a simple way to watch your significant other's mind kick into overdrive.  It's just one simple question,  and then you can sit back and watch the unraveling and self destruction, I'm sure it's comical on your end, while not so much on our side of the coin.

After all of the morning's discussion about yesterday and what's on tap for today, or whatever your particular morning routine is, just simply ask him one question towards the end of your morning ritual, and then grab the popcorn, because you're going to see a show. 

"So, don't you have something to say to me?"

In the short amount of time that it actually takes one to comprehend the question, the male species central nervous system has already dispatched the full panic message, that you've screwed something up.  Of course there's the always reliable "I'm Sorry", and when that clearly doesn't work, maybe she'll bite on a wholeheartedly felt "Thank You?".  Once your dude figures out that the only 2 coherent responses that he's capable of digging up aren't cutting it, that's when the real fun begins.

After whatever timeframe you feel is appropriate, and you've reduced him to nothing but a bundle of incoherent nerves, that's when you can tell him that today is your birthday.... oops.

So last Tuesday, Erin hit the big 60, and I blew it, sort of.  In all fairness, it was a non descript Tuesday morning after all, just like every other day.  The ace that I had up my sleeve however is that in my mind, Saturday night (last night) was her birthday, because that was when I had 2 weeks previously reserved a private room at our favorite up-scale restaurant for her surprise 60th birthday party, and I got her good.  She didn't see it coming, and we had a great time with close friends.

So the moral here is that yes, your significant other is probably a moron occasionally, we can't help it, it comes with the gender.  But at the end of the day, there may be more than what initially meets the eye, or not, we're an unpredictable lot.

Again, I hope everyone has a great Easter Sunday.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Friday Night Sale

Good Morning,

I hope everyone is doing well today.

I'm beginning to get back into the groove of things again, now that the 5k stick, and the EBAY debacle is finally behind us.  I'm sure it was at times confusing on your end, and I apologize.  I can tell you that it wasn't much better on our end either.  In any event, I'm glad it's in our rearview mirror. 

The only really good news that came out of the whole thing was the story behind the winning bidder.  I unintentionally blew what was to be a surprise anniversary gift, as her husband (the knight in shining armor) stayed up all night in Germany to bid on it.  In the end, it turned out to be a really cool story, and we couldn't be happier with the outcome, plus, they're talking about coming to visit us sometime.  Here I was chatting with her from my basement, and they were on the beach... the story of my life :)

Which brings me to another subject that I've meant to share any number of times, but have just kept forgetting.  If any of you are ever in the Kansas City area and would like to come visit and maybe get a demo, just let us know.  We actually have seating in the main shop area, and people come by just to hang out and watch me work all of the time.

I know it's a bit of a late notice, but we'll be having another FNS tomorrow at the usual 1:00 time slot (US, CST).

Thanks for hanging in there with us, as we attempted to dance with another, but she wasn't a very good dancer, so now we're back to dancing with the on that brought us.

Have a great day!

Update: 5:30 PM

OK, so it may be a wimpy sale tomorrow, I had planned on having 6 or 7, but we have 2 as of right now.  Worry not though, whatever we've got tomorrow will be marked down.   The only organization for the past 2 weeks that's made any money was EBAY.  I'm so happy we could add to their bottom line.  After that experience, I need someone to analyze this brain of mine, because it's clearly not functioning properly.

Have a great night!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The blog is coming down tomorrow

Good Morning, I hope everyone is doing well today.

I just wanted to give you a heads up before tomorrow. 

For reasons which you will come to understand in the coming week, I've been working on another project now for a while now, and I need the blog to "go dark" for awhile.  So don't stress out when you can't get to it, I'm still here, and I'm still making sticks, but I just need to slip into the shadows for awhile.

Hope you have a great Saturday, love to all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The first one is behind us

Good Afternoon,

Well the 1st sale on EBAY seemed to go through smoothly.  That said, I've been on the phone at least 2 times every day with EBAY since I opened the store with one problem or another.  ETSY is much simpler, but we're starting to get the hang of things.

And here we thought FNS's were fun to watch.  The winning bid was $126.39, which is in essence the same price we would have gotten in a FNS, so we're satisfied, although a bit shocked when we actually saw the sum total of the fees.  Net/Net, we lost money over selling it on ETSY, but hey, it's our 1st auction and overall we're very pleased with it.

As I've tried to explain, this whole thing is a fluid plan to say the least.  What we're thinking as of right this minute (don't worry it'll change, it has about 50 times already), is that we'll shuffle sticks between the 2 platforms.  In other words, if a listing doesn't sell on ETSY after a few days, it's off to EBAY, and vice versa.

Initially I'm planning for all spec. sticks to first be listed on EBAY, and if it doesn't open, it comes back to ETSY where it would have ordinarily been priced (remember, they're all going into EBAY at a set price of $100 irrespective of design).   So for today's example, the winning bidder purchased the stick for 84% of it's ETSY's retail value, as it would have been listed for $150, so not a bad deal.  Customs however will only be done thru ETSY, not unless the custom request comes thru EBAY.  If that's the case, the custom price will be either the greater of the retail ETSY price, or the winning bid price if it's a stick that was sold thru auction.  Suffice it say, I don't recommend you sending me a custom request through EBAY.  This is how I plan on keeping the prices set for those that follow the blog, I told you I wasn't going to raise the prices for you all, and I won't. 

So, let's take tomorrow for example:  If the current stick that's in the ETSY shop hasn't sold, which has been in inventory for 4 days, we will deactivate it in ETSY and list it on EBAY.  As for the stick that has no opening bids with the auction ending tomorrow morning, if it doesn't open, then it comes back to ETSY at it's normal retail price.  If they just flat out don't sell after all of that, the stick is clearly a loser and we'll either have a FNS or just give it away. 

I've spent a couple of hours now trying to get all of the platforms linked up.  You can see that I've added links to the different sites right under our banner.  It was a painful process for me, as doing computer stuff is one of the last things that I like to do, but it needed to be done.

Have a great afternoon!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Why the EBAY store?

Good Afternoon,

I feel an earthquake coming, so let me try to explain this as best I can.  But in order to do so, I need to rewind the tape a little, so please bear with me.

When I first discovered hairsticks, many of you will recall Beatnik (sp?) and the clear Master, Gray Dog.  Since I didn't have a clue what a hairstick was in the beginning, why not study the best?  And by the way, I have never looked at another hairstick makers sticks since Gray Dog, as I don't want to be influenced by anyone other than him, and my lousy memory.  Gray Dog had both an ETSY shop and an EBAY store, or whatever it was back in the day.  We all saw it, he was a master at his craft, the best to this day, at least in my opinion.  Well, he moved on in life as did I, and I haven't even thought about EBAY ever since, up until now.

Obviously the 5,000th stick was the motivator, as I had zero desire to otherwise even consider EBAY as an additional platform.  Any artist that works and prices their art based upon their desired hourly wage is a fool.  My typical stick takes anywhere from 3 to 7 hours to create, barring a single problem, and I've yet to meet that stick.  Our  prices have always been based on the stick's complexity and material only, not because I think I can get away with something.   So here comes the 5,000th stick that took over 40 hours to create, and my problem was, how do I possibly price something like this in a fixed price system?  The simple answer is that it's impossible, someone is going to come out on the short end of the stick, either you or us.  Again, only a fool bases pricing on time spent, it's only worth what it's worth, not a penny more.

Well, I haven't been shy about the difficulties I've had trying to set all of the EBAY stuff up, and it was just for one lousy stick.  I didn't have a choice once I decided to go forward with the 5k stick, and I had no clue how to price it, thus the reason I did the Sammi stick to artificially set the value.

So all of that was my motivation, but I'll be darned if I didn't start doing some thinking along the way.  Kherome and I have been chatting about it, and I understand the push back, it's a pain, I get it.  I don't like new things any more than any of you, but here's my thought process, and it seems to make sense to me, at least to me.

I'm going to preface this with, and  I'm stating fact, not fiction, but a great number of our sales occur within the 1st 5 minutes of a stick being posted on ETSY, and while I don't get it, it's apparently true.  Don't get me wrong, we love it when Erin's phone goes cha-ching, as we've got to eat and pay the bills all at the same time.

This is where my age comes in, because I have to believe that in many of these instances, the purchase was an impulse buy on the buyers part, and again, we've got to eat, so it's worked out handily over the years.  There's that, and then there's the fact that whenever we post a stick, half of the world is asleep.  Ladies, I work 18 hours a day and I suspect that all of you are asleep at least a couple of these hours, and if not, you're probably not clicking refresh every 15 minutes just in an effort to snag a stick in your spare time.

Regarding EBAY, irrespective of design, the opening price on any stick will be set at $100, which is less than we've sold anything for on ETSY  in quite some time, excluding Friday Night Sales of course.

So, by my way of thinking, I've leveled the playing field to some degree.  The auctions are going to be for 3 days, so time zones are no longer an issue.  They are all at a set price of $100, and if they don't sell by day 3 we'll just re-list it at a lower price, thus eliminating Friday Night Sales, again, they're only worth whatever they're worth, we'll find the bottom eventually.  And finally, going back to my age reference again, there's really nothing wrong about thinking about a purchase prior to actually making it, it gives you time to think about whether you really want it or not.  I want you to purchase my sticks because you want them, not because of the rationale that 'If I don't buy it this very second, someone else will".  That doesn't give my heart the warm fuzzies.

I recognize that irrespective of my rationale, you probably still don't like it, and that's fine.  We're not closing the ETSY shop, nor are we cutting off customs, nor are we adding the fees back into the price (Kherome said that and I was shocked).  Nothing about the way we do business is changing, other than adding an additional platform, shipping will be the same as it always has been, with the possible exception of the commemorative stick, it just depends on where the final bid ends up.  If, after all of this, you're still vehemently opposed to the idea, just send me a note, and I'll put you on the custom list and  the problem is solved.  You do after all, have 5,000 previous designs to choose from :)  (sorry, I couldn't resist).

At the end of the day, we've been on ETSY now since 2009.  As of this writing, we've sold 5,007 sticks and have had 2,954 reviews, all of which were 100% positive.  We've gotten to know you, and quite a few of you have gotten to know us on a personal level as well.  Do any of you actually think that I'm trying to take advantage of anyone, or trying to falsely capitalize on this?  I know the naysayers are out there, and there's likely nothing that I can say that will change your mind or your heart, there never has been.  But for our friends (customers) that know us, and that we've come to love over the years, I hope you understand, we're just trying to do the right thing.  I may be completely misguided on this, but I have it on a higher authority that I'm correct... so with that let's just say... 'nuff said.

Have a good night.

EBAY Store

Good Morning,

I'm still struggling with all of this EBAY stuff, but I think I've managed to stumble my way through opening up an EBAY store.  I don't know whether this is going to be a good thing or not, as EBAYS fees are higher than ETSY's, so we're going to test the waters slowly.

If anyone see's anything that I've messed up, (Darkhorse), please let me know, as I'll take all of the free advice I can get.

Thanks, have a great day!


It just occurred to me that we don't have any experience on the backend of things on EBAY.  In other words, what happens when the bidding is over.  Given my not so stellar efforts thus far, we're going to post another stick this morning on EBAY on a 36 hour auction and see what happens after the fact, assuming it sells.  I would actually like to get the commemorative stick into the winning bidders hands, and going in blind on the backend isn't a very good plan.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sunday Evening Update

Good Evening,

Thank you Darkhorse, I messed up the international shipping on the commemorative stick.  I did the same on the test stick that was previously listed, so at least I'm consistent.  It took an hour on the phone with an EBAY rep that walked me through getting it corrected.  I wanted to hug the guy afterwards, and I even told him so.  He was extremely patient with what had to be a very painful conversation on his end dealing with a moron like me.

As you might imagine, we kind of want our international customers involved if they so wish, I just had it set up as U.S. only... hey, I'm new to this EBAY stuff.  I did move it up to 5 days, as we were already down 2 on the 7 day listing.

Sorry, have a good night.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A question for you

Good Morning,

Yesterday I received a custom request for a Paris themed stick.  Well, I don't have any such thing, so the request would technically fall under the "create it from scratch" category, which we charge more for accounting for design time, etc.  I'm thinking about waiving the additional fee, pending a question I have for you.

As often happens, my mind began drifting back 15 years ago when we visited Paris.  We absolutely love the city, it was the most memorable trip of my life.

After having revisited Paris in my mind, I began thinking, and here's my question.  Does anyone think that there might be any interest in creating a "Cityscape" series, Paris, London, Munich, NYC just to name a few?

I think it could be kind of cool, but then again, I generally like most of my ideas initially.  If you would, please share your thoughts with me, because I'm getting tired of chasing down empty rabbit holes, and believe me I've got empty rabbit holes all over the place.

Thanks for any input, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Reveal

Good Morning,

Well, today's the day you get to see it, and tomorrow it's off to EBAY.  Suffice it to say, I hope you like it. 

So the plan for  tomorrow is that we'll be posting it on EBAY around 5:00 PM (CST).  I understand that the start time is completely irrelevant to you, as it's a 1 week auction, so who cares what time we post it.   There is a reason however that it's relevant to us.

For those of you that have followed this little blog journey, you'll recall that our 2 favorite days of the week are Fridays and Sundays for Church.  For the past 8 months since my 40th reunion last summer, there has been a core group of us that have gotten together at our favorite watering hole, The Tavern at Mission Farms from 4:00 until 6:30ish, every single Friday, we all just clicked.  Today, Erin and I consider Neal, Steve, Deb and Keith to be as close as family, and we know the feelings are mutual.  My shop has become our clubhouse, and it's not unusual for any of them to just stop by anytime after 3:00 and out the door by 7:00, any day of the week, so I can go to bed.  I don't get cleaned up or change clothes, I just keep working, and they watch (I have seating set up in the main shop).  We drink beer, talk, laugh and most recently cry.  You see, two days ago, Neal's baby daughter Emily, 28 years old was diagnosed with, not one, but two strains of Leukemia.  The clubhouse and our "family" has been Neal's  respite of sorts, to some small degree in what can only be described as devastating news.  So, next Friday as usual we're going to be at the Tavern in our usual spot with Ipad in hand, and at 5:00 with our family, and then we'll know who's buying the drinks.  But back to Neal for a moment, I know you all don't know him or his family from Adam, but if you get a chance, say a little prayer for my good friend, Emily, and their family, because they need it.


So again, by the numbers:
Item                                                          Number
6.5"  Ebony Hairstick                                     1  (Correction - the stick actually measures 6.625")
Paua inlays                                                   18 - The underlayment below the engravings
Sterling Silver Inlays                                      6 - Thin bands bordering the abalone, and the top

Dominant Inlays                                             2 - The Abalone wide bands
Primary Inlays                                               40 - Different gemstone inlays on the diamonds
Secondary Inlays                                          426  - Mother of Pearl inlays in the numbers
Total Number of Components                  493

The final picture, the underside of the lid, lists all of the various components, basically in order from the top of the stick to the foot.  While difficult to achieve in these pictures, the owner should be able to identify each and every inlay, through process of elimination.  Several of the colors are close to the same, for example some of the greens.  There are subtle differences however, and upon closer inspection you will begin to see the differentiation.

I'm probably going to lay low for the next few days, as I have some serious catch up work to do.

Have a great day, and for those that might like to try, good luck!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Introuducing Mr. Craig Arnold

Good Afternoon,

One more day until the unveiling, but first you need to see the 5K sticks sleeping quarters.  A little more on the details later, but first, meet my friend and woodworking mentor, Craig Arnold.

 "I offer select custom, traditional, and original designs of heirloom furniture, wall cabinets and galleries, and boxes.

Woodworkers who inspire my work are Paul Sellers, Peter Lloyd, Nancy Hiller, and Doug Stowe, to name a few.

As a member of the Kansas City Woodworkers' Guild, I'm privileged to work in a great shop with some very talented people and enjoy sharing with those who are new to the craft.

When you buy something from me, 10 percent of the purchase price is donated to the Kansas City Woodworkers' Guild as a way for the Guild to continue to provide education and community service in woodworking.

Thanks for stopping by and drop me a line if you'd like to discuss something you see here.

Best regards,
Craig Arnold"

Craig truly is my go-to guy with any questions on how do something in our given field.  Some of you may recall last year when we went down the barrette rabbit hole, I had to take a course in finishing, and Craig was my instructor.  I've come to accept the fact that fundamentally I'm a pretty poor woodworker, I just happen to be ok if the wood is spinning at 3,000 rpm.  As a disclaimer, the box is still in it's final curing stages and it has not been polished yet, it will be polished prior to it being shipped.

Constructed from Bubinga and Curly Maple, the lid and it's underside are inlaid with turquoise.

The interior of the box features a fitted, foam cushioned, turquoise felt bed.

The exterior of the box features clean and sharp curves and bevels, while the box lid with the curly maple inset, showcases precisely chamfered edges.

As mentioned in a prior posting, you can see that Craig's work is truly outstanding.  I highly recommend Craig if you should have any wooden type wants or needs, he's great to work with and you won't be disappointed

Have a great evening, we'll chat again in the morning.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Guinea Pig

That Shawnah is one quick shopper!  34.9 seconds, she must have turbo-refresh or something.

OK, step one is completed.  Now, if I only had a clue how to put the Commemorative stick on EBAY.  Enter, the Guinea Pig.

I'm working on an angel wing white paua right now, that would ordinarily be posted on ETSY at $125.  I need to figure this EBAY stuff out, and if there's an issue of any sort, I'd rather know about it now than on Friday.  So... you guessed it... it's going on EBAY to test the waters.

From a pricing standpoint, the fact is, we've never not sold a stick, with a worst  case pricing  scenario being,  selling it through a Friday Night sale.  So, for  this EBAY listing, I'm setting the reserve at 80% of retail, or in other words, going in to it with Friday Night Sale pricing.  It seems to make sense to me, but who knows, we're entering uncharted waters for us, so we'll see how it goes.

I'll post a link here once it's posted.


ETSY 5,000th stick

Good Morning,

So here's the plan for today.

I'm guessing I'm still a couple of hours out before it's finished.  Once Erin is finished with her magic, I'll post photos on this posting.  I've spent the last day trying to figure out when to post it on ETSY, and I've got to tell you, I had all kinds of diabolical plans. 

At the end of the day though, I've finally concluded that if it ain't broke, I'm not going to try to fix it.  We'll post it in the regular FNS timeslot (1:00 PM CST).  Regarding the price, as irony would have it, it's the same price as Sammi's stick, and the reserve price on the commemorative stick, $195. 

... stay tuned.

OK, here it about 11:30 now, and I just finished it, with a whole hour and a half to spare.

I'll be honest, this entire exercise has been exhausting, and we'll be glad when things return to normal.  It was exhausting, but fortunately a fun adventure, because so many elements had to come together.  I should be getting the finished box back from Craig tomorrow sometime.  Once in hand, it will be photographed and posted here, along with all you need to know about Craig.  We're tentatively planning on posting the actual stick here on Thursday, with the EBAY games beginning on Friday... and then we rest.

One of the challenges that I had, hearkens back to Cipriana's comment on the 19th.  She in essence asked if multiples of the Commemorative stick could be produced.  My answer then, was no,  as it is today, it was simply too complicated, and I don't choose to relive the experience.  That didn't mean that her question wasn't entirely valid, it's just undoable on my end. 

So my challenge was to create a design similar in nature to the Commemorative original, that could be reproduced if anyone so desired in terms of a custom request.  The stick that we're posting at 1:00, is the stick that I'm describing.  I also understand the concern for whomever might purchase it, desiring to own the actual and true 5,000th stick. 

So here is how I'm proposing to ensure that the 5,000th stick will be identified as the original.  The stick is signed and dated February 28th, the day I created the design, obviously not today when I finished it.  Going forward if anyone would like a reproduction, it will be dated the date that their stick is completed, and numbered in sequence 001, 002, etc.

See you in an hour and 10 minutes.

African Blackwood, 6.75"
Natural and Teal Paua
Silver and gold e.p.e.
Timberstone Turnings on top band
Signature and date on bottom band
Sammi's 5,000 repeating crosshatch design


34.9 seconds... you all are quick!