2010: The Year in Review
Our newest catalog, after numerous delays, was published in mid-2010. This is the biggest and best offering of printmaking supplies available anywhere. The 90th anniversary issue has lots of pictures, lots of color, and lots of products.
From time to time, we've been asked how we keep track of all the items that we carry. Up until today, I would have answered - very well, thank you. Today, with the offices closed for the holiday (that would be New Years Day), I decided to blitz on re-numbering our stock shelves in some sort of logical order. The idea being that if someone couldn't find a product on their own, they could look it up on the computer and it would tell them, for example, that D/E Etching Needles were located on shelf 163, bin 1. It also should expedite our physical inventory process in late June by allowing counters to count full shelves rather than counting in product number order.
Well, I happened to get to shelf 158 and was proceeding merrily on my way when I came to bin 15 (16, 17,and 18 too) I went to find the product on the computer when what to my wondering eyes should appear - nothing! Four products that we have fair to good stock on, but they aren't in the computer anymore. Amazingly, further study shows that we haven't sold any of them in years! Hmm, I wonder why? Look for some really good pricing on some engraving tools in the near future!
I won't belabor the effects of the economy on the printmaking supply field, but suffice it to say that this would be a great time to directly support those suppliers that a) are manufacturing the materials that you use and b) support the organizations that you belong to like SGC and MAPC. I am amazed at the number of suppliers that do not actively support your organizations. At any conference, you'll see most of the same companies that are there, usually offering products at a discount. Conferences aren't a bowl of cherries for a vendor. What they are is a great opportunity to network with our friends and customers. But they are also a little difficult. Schedules and pricing aren't kind to the vendors, and most of the time, the shows are re-invented every year. So, Dean gets crabby right up until the Vendor fair opens.
I am concerned that failure to support the handful of manufacturers in the field will result, as it already has in several cases, in products disappearing from the market or in extreme cases, companies folding up their tents completely. We are already seeing some of our vendors either discontinuing products or closing down completely.
The most obvious example is the loss of the very popular Graphic Water Soluble Relief Ink line. With absolutely no advance notice, our vendor - a very large company with multiple manufacturing locations - just up and discontinued the product that we needed to make these inks. If you think that they care about us ( a customer for well over 50 years) ,or you, think again. If you think that this is the last time it will happen, wait a week or two. It can and will happen again, unless we as an industry can convince them otherwise.
The good news is that we think we're close to having the right vehicle for the Water Soluble Relief inks. Early tests are going very well, but the tests that really count are the ones our customers do when samples are ready to go.
The picture? Believe it or not this was my introduction to Rome! The teepees (or are they wigwams?) were just a short block from out hotel - right near the Spanish Steps.