December 14, 2018
Where did time go? Seems we recently celebrated the 4th of July and now Christmas and the end of the year are quickly approaching. To say Gayle and I do not have enough time to complete the daily operation of Changing Times Diaper Company is an understatement. It’s sometimes nonstop from the time to door is unlocked in the morning to the time we close at the end of the day. I guess this is what we wanted for our retail store.
Business has increased to the point that we have begun going to the store on Sunday to pack orders. It normally takes around three or four hours based upon the amount of orders which need to be fulfilled. We want to ensure orders placed late Friday or during the weekend are ready for pick-up by the US Postal Service (USPS) and FedEx on Monday. Normal pick-up time is between noon and 2:00 PM for both carriers. This is the reason an individual might receive a partial shipping refund on Sunday but the order will not ship until Monday.
Many things have occurred since my last newsletter. The Bear Hugz diapers are receiving positive comments at many ABDL sites and from our retail customers. The diaper is being praised for it’s comfort, fit, absorption and cute print. It’s exactly what I asked for from the manufacturer. In fact, they exceeded my expectations and sales continue to increase as word spreads about this fantastic product.
We have heard from many individuals that our Bear Hugz diaper is slightly different than the Tykables Overnights. They are made by the same company using the same mold. The difference is the outer plastic covering. Ours is smooth whereas the Overnights have a slight textured feel. This was not in our specifications and most likely the printer used a plastic sheeting that was already on-hand or that’s what was ordered. Both are great products.
As many of you know, this is a project which was filled with potholes and speed bumps along the way. I truly believed using a 3rd party distributor would allow us to not only offer great shipping rates, but in the long term, provide the opportunity (down the road) to get the Bear Hugz diapers to the overseas market. Unfortunately, this was not to be and the entire shipment of diapers in now located in Las Vegas.
I have struggled to offer shipping rates which meet the needs of many of our customers. This is an ongoing concerns but I recently discovered an app to help lower these costs. Easyship is a free app and offers affordable USPS and FedEx rates. Our current FedEx ground rates are nearly the same as our initial economy based rates, but I am now able to save on unnecessary fees since all orders are now shipped from Las Vegas. The saving on certain orders can be substantial but still do not allow us to offer free shipping.
The Easyship app allows individuals with ecommerce stores to ship products using discounted rates normally reserved for larger merchants using their negotiated shipping rates. We have a FedEx account and the difference between using our account versus the Easyship rates provides for a huge savings to the customers. However, nothing is perfect and I have found an issue with this app, but, I have found a way around the problem.
All our products have size and weights entered into a database. If an individual orders two products, the Easyship app calculates the order weight and estimates the package size used to ship the order. This is no problem for small orders. The issue is when individuals place larger orders for an assortment of products whether reusable, disposable or a combination of both. The app can miscalculate the order weight and size of box needed to ship the order. I believe this is one reason many orders are being abandoned by our customers as the shipping rate is too high. Believe me - I understand. However, I have a way around this and many times I am sending refunds to customers for excess shipping paid.
I prefer not to go into detail about how I am able to sometimes lower the shipping rate, but rest assured, all shipping labels generated using the Easyship app are the lowest price possible. I continue to learn the ins and outs of this app in hopes the shipping rates shown during checkout are the actual price and not one so high individuals abandon their order.
Being a small business owner is not easy as it seems as “many agencies and companies” have their hand in our pockets. We try to keep our operating cost to a minimum, but many times this is impossible. These agencies and companies believe since we are self employed - we’re rich. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are necessities such as rent, insurance, Internet, phone and utilities where the cost cannot be negotiated. Seems we always need office and shipping supplies. Seen the price of printer ink lately? Racks are beginning to look bare so we better order more disposable and reusable products. These too are increasing in price.
As of January 1, 2019, the price of Gary Mfg. products goes up again. Operating and raw material costs continue to increase so this gets passed onto the distributor and in the end - the customers. Pricing on our current inventory of Gary Mfg. vinyl pants, bibs and novelty clothing will stay the same. New prices will be established as orders begin arriving in 2019. We will continue to offer prices comparable to the other distributors of Gary Mfg. incontinence and novelty products. The big difference is we have a retail store - they don’t.
We are happy to fulfill special orders for any Gary Mfg. vinyl product. Based upon the specific request, we will normally order a minimum of seven to get a lower price. It is not necessary for the individual to purchase all seven products. The remaining products will be added to our Shopify listing and displayed in our store. We have found that seven products do not normally last too long but gives us an idea if this is a product which can be added to our inventory. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in placing a special order for any Gary Mfg. product.
Arriving shortly will be an order from Diaper Connoisseur out of Fresno, California We are happy to once again offer his Amor and Idyl brands of disposable diapers. The pink Amors were suppose to be redesigned but this did not happen as planned. The Amor and Idyl are fantastic products and I am surprised as to how many of our retail customers have never heard of this brand.
The diapers uses a 40 gram outer plastic sheeting which is heavier than any other brand on the market today. Two adhesive tapes per side on the medium and large Amor and Idyl provide for a secure fit. The small Amor uses one large tape per side. The diapers are rated at 5000 ml (1.3 gals). The diapers use a printed tape landing zone and cute design which runs between the legs and up the back of the diaper. This product is highly recommended and worth trying.
Also arriving shortly are the new Rearz Violet Seduction adult disposable diapers. The new color replaces the all-black Seduction style. I have seen the actual diaper and believe it will be a very popular product. I do not have any diaper specifications at this time and believe it is the same as the black Seduction with the exception of the color.
Many may have noted a limited quantity of our polyurethane laminate (PUL) pants. The style using the Babyville PUL and made by KINS in Canada have been discontinued. This is due to our supplier in Oregon no longer offering the printed PUL material and the fact that sending large amounts of material to Canada have made the pants and bibs impossible to manufacture. Our other PUL brand of pants will continue.
The other style of snap-on and pull-on pants continue to increase in popularity. The snap-on blue and pink plaid, elephants, planes and superman along with the purple rabbits are silky soft and a great fit over disposable diapers. We are currently looking at offering our Bear Hugz print in PUL pants and bibs. There are a few logistic issues to work out along with financing as this particular manufacture requires payment in full before the order is started. Normal manufacture and shipping time is two months - at a minimum.
The pull-on style of PUL pants is not as popular as the snap-on style but there is a still a demand with certain customers We will introduce in the future a pull-on style in blue and pink plaid and feature a side seam which is three inches longer than the current stock. Additional prints will be offered as finances allow.
We continue to look for new products to add to our store. I found a source for adult cloth print training pants, pvc pants, changing pads and bodysuits (onesies). We are hopeful we can work with this company once we receive samples to ensure they meet ours and your needs.
Our biggest hurdle to offering our current line of bodysuits is finding sources for the material. We have found material which is 60% cotton and 40% polyester is perfect for it’s comfort and little shrinking after being washed. However, finding this material in cute nursery print material here in the US is like “finding a needle in a haystack.” The answer might be to have our bodysuits made overseas. There will be a few exceptions if we can find quality material from US sources.
I are hopeful the above source can provide OEM services and produce bodysuits based on our current sizing. Our bodysuits are receiving positive feedback for the comfort, sizing, colored matched metal snaps and elastic at the legs. Our bodysuits provide for complete coverage as the fit around the legs does not allow the diaper to “peek out.” We will provide updates as news arrives about expanding our selection of adult bodysuits.
As word spreads about the Bear Hugz diapers, we see an increase in orders. We do everything possible to get your order out the door and to you in as little time as possible. We ships using the USPS and FedEx ground. However, there are two things we cannot control: misrouting by the carrier and thefts (porch pirates).
Talking with our local delivery drivers, it is well known there are individuals who follow delivery trucks and once packages are left at the door, they swoop in and steal your package. Just look on YouTube or a video friends post on Facebook. There are people out there who want your packages. It could even be your neighbor. They don’t care what’s inside and take a gamble it’s something expensive or something they can use or sell. There is nothing we can do about this increasing trend. Filing a claim for a missing package that was delivered is impossible unless there is proof the package was never delivered. Once the package is delivered by the carrier, we hope you get the products. Please take precautions when placing orders.
There are several things which can be done to protect your investment. One is to be at home the day your package is scheduled to be delivered. We know this is not always possible but the best defense to receive your package.
If using FedEx, find the address of your local FedEx Print and Ship store and have the package delivered to their location. I would call to confirm they will hold your package before placing your order.
One other possibility and this comes from our FedEx driver, have the package delivered to your local Walgreens. I would not order a case of diapers and have a large box delivered to Walgreens, but several sample packs in a smaller box should not be an issue. Again, call your local Walgreens to ensure this is possible.
If using USPS, have the box sent to General Delivery at your local post office. It will be addressed to your name, General Delivery and the address of the post office. All that is needed to pick-up the package is ID. They will hold the package up to 30 days but pick it up as soon as possible.
Again, we do everything possible to get your products to you, but once the package leaves our store via USPS or FedEx, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen during its journey. Please take precautions as there is nothing more frustrating than paying for products which never arrives thanks to today’s growing trend of porch pirates.
Gayle and I wish everyone the best in 2019 and upcoming years. 2018 saw increased sales and visitors to our Las Vegas retail location. This is mainly due to customers spreading the word about our business and product line.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. I will try to respond in a timely manner but due to increased tasks needed to be accomplished throughout the day, it may take a little longer than anticipated.
Robert & Gayle