Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tim Holtz Stamp Platform Update

It is said that good things come to those who wait – and a lot of you have been waiting for the Tim Holtz Stamp Platform since January 17, when we started taking advance orders for it.

It is here – and the general consensus is that it was worth the wait.

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These are not promotional pictures – a small shipment arrived minutes before I left for Texas for a show this weekend and I took several shots with my cell phone (before I edited them, a few showed my foot in the background).  I brought a couple along to demo in the booth and take orders, and the customers raved about them today.

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Yep, still reversible.

Since Wednesday, we have received confirmations from suppliers that at least 800 and perhaps more will arrive next week (at present, we have taken advance orders for more than 1,000).  Given some time, that should get us through several months of orders – I will be back at the mail center by midweek and will jump in to help Debbie and Patti get them out quickly.

If you haven’t taken the plunge yet, this is your last chance to take advantage of the advance order price of $31.99 (20% off the MSRP with free shipping in the contiguous U.S.) – when I get back to the mail center, it will go to the MSRP and usual shipping charges will apply.

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And thanks to several of you who asked about the Tim Holtz Stamp Platform Zipper Sleeve and wanted to carry their platforms in style . . . hadn’t heard about that one yet – but we found it.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Future Is Still Bright . . .

Every show so far this year, I have seen more and more young ladies in our booth – and they are excited to learn more and more about crafting (some of them are teaching their moms and grandmas what they are learning).  Down the road, they are going to keep all of us employed . . .

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This was last weekend in Kissimmee, Florida – Rennae brought her own money and knew exactly what she wanted (and exactly what she was going to do with it).

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Minnesota was no different – lots of talented young ladies working on backgrounds at our demo stations.  It is so much fun to watch them create – and their excitement is contagious!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

My Heroine -- and Likely Yours as Well . . .

I am in the midst of a run of six shows in seven weeks.  Doesn’t leave much time for anything more than traveling and doing the show.  So I am sitting in a hotel room in Minnesota this morning, a week behind in telling stories from last weekend’s show in Florida – with next weekend’s show in Texas already staring me in the face.

But there is an incident from the Florida show that needs to be discussed – and one of our customers who needs to be applauded.

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This was the view from my cash register about half an hour after the show opened in Kissimmee last Saturday.  Nothing unusual – the booth was packed, I was running the cash register, Anna Ely was at the demo table, and Melinda Sutton was running around in the booth helping customers and answering questions.

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And then Ivette Rodriguez entered the scene, waving to get my attention as she walked up to the cash register, and telling me that I needed to chase after two women who had just walked past me and were headed toward the door.  I didn’t get it at first – so she continued – “They have your stuff in their bags!”

So I walked quickly into the lobby and as I reached the two women, I could easily see two large rolls of Scor-Tape in one of their shoulder bags.  So I escorted them back into the hall and waved for Sandy from StampFest to follow me.

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I have a full picture of the two women that clearly shows their faces – really wanted to post it to let them absorb the embarrassment, but I have heard various opinions of the legal ramifications since ultimately no charges were filed.  So I have cropped it to simply show what these two thought they were entitled to take from us (and ultimately, YOU!).  Ivette got my attention again during this process to make sure that I understood that the second woman had exactly the same thing in her shoulder bag – and that she had overheard one telling the other “Oh yes, you need this!” as they were slipping the rolls of tape into their bags.

So they paid for their “purchases” – honestly, would you risk having a criminal record for the rest of your life for $40 worth of crafting tape? – and I asked Sandy to escort them to Debby Drabik (the StampFest promoter – and the angel who gave us our first opportunity at a show 20 years ago, when no one outside of Dayton, Ohio had ever heard of us).  Bluntly, I had Sandy take them to Debby because I had customers patiently waiting for me, and I knew that Debby would scare the hell out of them before she kicked them out of the show – and she did.

But this story is more about Ivette – we rely on honest people to be our eyes in areas that we can’t see during a busy show.  Ivette could have chosen to look the other way, or simply not to become involved.  And I am grateful that instead, she chose to protect us.

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I am not a Karma guy, but I find it amazing – and fitting – that later in the day Ivette Rodriguez won two gift certificates to our booth from the StampFest folks.  And I posted on our Facebook page a picture of Ivette with a brief summary of what she did for us – it has been viewed nearly 12,000 times.

Sometimes it truly does pay to be a Good Samaritan . . .

Monday, June 26, 2017

New Distress Oxide Colors Just Announced!

The website is back up and running – thankfully!  I may tell that story someday but there is a more important item on the agenda today . . .

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12 new colors of Distress Oxide Inks were just announced today – if all goes well, we may have them to ship by late this week or early next!  Full sets are 20% off the MSRP – and if your order is placed before the first shipment arrives here, we’ll ship them free in the contiguous U.S.

I won’t bother you any more today – you have work to do!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Killing Time While the Website Is Down . . .

Our website has been down for almost two days.  Apparently our database outgrew the capacity of the server it shared with other sites (nearly 5,000 items will do that) and needed to move to one with larger capacity and fewer sites to share it.  The news that we would be going dark was almost an afterthought comment by the guy from our provider – it wasn’t until I followed with “What was that again?” that I was informed that it takes time for the World Wide Web (for those of you who never knew what “www” stands for) to find us again – and that “time” was likely 24 to 48 hours.  I vaguely remember this from seven or eight years ago when we did this – like then, I hit the refresh button every couple of hours to see if we have come back to life.

As I type this, it has been 44 hours – so it looks like it will be much closer to 48 than 24.  But hopefully soon . . .

Meanwhile, I am getting ready for the annual trip to Sunny Florida next weekend.  Twenty years ago tomorrow . . . June 25, 1997 . . . Ryan and I left Dayton in an overloaded Dodge Caravan (with the middle and back seats removed and the tailpipe about six inches off the ground) and headed south to meet about 1,500 pounds of paper that we had shipped ahead to what was then called the Sheraton World on International Drive in Orlando.

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One of these days, I will find the original pics and tell that story – for now, this is the only evidence I have of that first booth.  But I do recall that the Caravan was almost empty on the trip north after the show.

One other tidbit . . . from the 30+ vendors at that first show I attended, only two others besides Marco’s are still on the show circuit 20 years later – Just for Fun (Rick and Debby, of course, are the promoters of StampFest), Art Gone Wild! (Ted was in a single 15-foot booth then – a far cry from today’s Art Gone Wild!, Inky Antics, Stampers Anonymous, Darcie’s, and Verses traveling in that enormous motor home and trailer).

Here’s an unrelated item in case you have been dreaming of a pilgrimage to our store in lovely Dayton – Ken Oliver is coming to do three classes on July 28 & 29.  There is info in the store now – it will go on our site once it comes back to life.  Stay tuned . . .

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Beginning of Summer . . .

I think everyone has landmarks that note the changing of the seasons – Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas, Easter.  For me, Memorial Day Weekend is way too hectic to mark the beginning of Summer – instead, for the past 20 years it has been the Massachusetts show the first weekend in June.  For the first two years we went there, it was in the Boston suburb of Marlborough.  The past 18 years have been spent at the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E) in West Springfield.

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It was so pretty last Friday that I arrived at the fairgrounds early and gave myself time to walk around the property.  Apparently there are replicas of several of the capitol buildings in surrounding states – I was told later that the one that caught my eye is Massachusetts.

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It caught my eye because these two figures were shining in the morning sunlight – in all the years I have driven through this place, I had never noticed them.

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After setup, I made my annual peppermint ice cream pilgrimage to Dairy Cream out by the Hartford airport.  A couple of years ago, one of my classmates was going to fly into Hartford for a conference, so I told her about this place.  She stopped there – agreed with me – and when I sent her these pictures last weekend, was unhappy that I wasn’t bringing some home for her packed in dry ice.

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Lots of benches for the “pack mules” to rest (some of them now tell me they prefer to be referred to as “bag men”) – or in this case for my friend Cal Ruger to read his tablet while Dee shops and visits.  This time, Dee even got to park her scooter and walk around a bit.

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Why do we love New England?  These pictures were all taken five minutes after the show opened on Saturday . . .

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Our friends Susan LeClerc and Sally Lynn MacDonald dazzled a steady stream of customers at their demo tables . . .

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I am noticing more and more young folks taking an interest in crafting – which may keep all of us employed for the foreseeable future.  I took the pic on the right because I noticed that Sally Lynn’s demo table kept creeping forward as she stood up and sat down over and over during the day.

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This lady is carrying a plastic bag because it is serving as her purse . . . someone fell in love with the purse she brought with her to the show, so she emptied it and sold it on the spot.

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I am grateful to the nice folks who love my dog and bring treats for her – and I always try to get a picture of Zoe while she is tasting her gift for the first time.  Yum . . .

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Went to a driving range to hit balls with a friend about an hour after I got home – we had to wait out a quick cloudburst, but got a nice rainbow for our trouble.

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The next day, I got to see the first blooms on the Bracken’s Brown Beauty Magnolia in my front yard.  This thing was about five feet tall when I lifted it out of my truck and planted it in 2006 – it is well over twenty feet tall now.  Those blooms smell as fresh as they look . . .

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Child’s Play . . .

Spent last weekend on the lovely campus of Onondaga Community College near Syracuse, New York – this is simply an outstanding place to have a show, both for vendors and customers.

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Don’t often get a chance to look at a show from above.  And this was the crowd at the beginning of the Friday Night Make & Take – nearly 70% of the attendees said they had never been to a show before.  We love newbies . . .

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Friday sunset through the windows illuminated the Gary Burlin sign as much as any spotlight . . .

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Lots of people who used to live near Dayton appreciate our retail store even more once they move away.  Dawn Birdseye surely does – she stopped by to say hi on Saturday, sent her love to the make and take regulars at home, and said there is nothing similar where she lives now.

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Promoters’ kids can do pretty much what they want at a show – Alana Lindeman (daughter of Steve and Michelle from Toomuchfun) spent most of the weekend on this cart, mostly using it as a scooter back and forth along the wall behind Mom and Dad’s booth.

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She also spent a lot of time at our demo table, learning how to make backgrounds with Gel Press (and using that same “scooter” to take her still-drying creations back to the family booth).

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Meanwhile, big sister Noelle was working on her artistic skills with Copics and Gelatos and Wink of Stellas . . .

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The last image from Syracuse requires a bit of explanation – perhaps not as much for those of you familiar with the nattily attired fellow who always rides along in Picasso Gaglione’s side pocket (yes, Picasso is retired now, but he is always with us).  That would be Fred – and Fred is a rock star of sorts.  So when I saw this sticker on the MG in front of me at a stop light on the way to the show on Sunday, I assumed it just had to be another of Fred’s legion of fans . . .

Monday, May 15, 2017

Story Time . . .

I spent a large portion of the past week in Novi, Michigan for the 18th Annual Great Lakes Mega Meet.  Every time I turned around, I saw something that just demanded a picture and a story.  Didn’t have time to take all of the pictures or tell all of the stories, but here are some of the best, in a very “stream of consciousness” order . . .

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I thought I would get one good story when I saw this mother teaching her daughter about Copic Markers in front of our display.  I was wrong – on two counts – the daughter was teaching her mother, and I got the first of four stories . . .

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I learned that Isabella (age 10) is a Copic expert – she has watched all of the YouTube videos and is making it her mission in life to collect all 180 colors of Copic Ciao Markers (which to me seems much more useful than collecting Pokemon).  We had so much fun while Isabella searched along with her mom, aunt, and grandma – and her personality just sparkles.

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Ten minutes later, I found another mother/daughter tandem scouring the Copics.  I was sure that Elyse was about 16 – wrong again – she is 22 and just graduated from the University of Michigan.  Elyse and her mom went to Las Vegas for graduation – and she got carded on the casino floor because security thought she was underage.  I told her that she may be offended now, but she will love it when she is still getting carded on her 40th birthday.

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Another ten minutes passed, and I met Bree and her mom – Bree is eight and just starting to learn about Copics.  It was so much fun to watch all of these families interact and spend quality crafting time together in our booth.

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Could I have one of every color, please?

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Anthony Gilbert from Anthony’s Paper Craft was again demoing in our booth – and he attracted customers of all ages.

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We donated a couple of door prizes each day that the promoter announced on the loudspeaker.  This was the first winner – and she had three friends helping her to decide which colors she wanted from our sale cardstock shelves.

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The calm before the storm, just before the show opened on Thursday . . . once promoter Kate Griswold took pictures from way up on a ladder (maybe I need one that size for our giveaways?) and counted down the last few seconds, it was off to the races . . .

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This nice lady came through my line on Thursday. As I was ringing up her purchases, she said "I have your love letter on my phone"... and I stopped short for a second... until I realized she was referring to our e-mail with the $2.00 off coupon. And then I laughed, as it has never been called that before... but that's really what it is... and describes so well how we feel about our customers and friends.

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This is Shawn . . . I know this because two of her friends were trying to get her attention from next to my cash register Thursday (Shawn was in a long line in the next booth)... they kept calling "Shawn! Shawn!" but she didn't hear them. So I decided to help them out . . . my voice carries (imagine that) . . . one "Shawn!" from me and her head snapped up, with an immediate look that said "Why is this stranger calling my name?"  A few hours later, she won a prize in our giveaway... and of course I said "Shawn won a prize!"  Saw her again Friday morning . . . "Good morning Shawn!" . . . and took this pic.  Our customers are good sports . . .

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A lot of you may feel this way – thankfully, you don’t let it stop you from keeping us employed . . .

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Told this nice lady that I had never seen a "frontpack" before.  Anthony corrected me . . . not without a child in it.  She said she had been wearing it on her back, but every time she turned she swatted someone with it.  So it became a frontpack and less dangerous . . .

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Doesn’t help much to have a concession line intended to get the vendors back to their customers quicker . . . if it’s closed . . .

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The nice lady on the right rolled her eyes on Friday when I gave her a ticket to our giveaway, and proceeded to explain how unlucky she is at such things.  Once she was at a bowling banquet – there were 81 people there – there were 80 door prizes – and she was the one who walked out without a door prize.  Sure enough – Friday she didn’t win.  But Saturday was another story . . .

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Baked before I left home last week, at the suggestion of Phil Krebs from Art Impressions – I shared some with Phil and Bonnie last fall in Tennessee, and two weeks ago in Akron, Phil asked me when I was going to make them again.  Since I needed something for Mother’s Day that would go in the freezer, I put half of them away and brought the rest to Michigan . . .

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Five views of the same delightful Michigan sunset, taken over a span of about 45 minutes during teardown on Saturday . . .

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Rolled into my cul-de-sac about 1:00 on Sunday morning – just in time to catch a few hours of sleep and pick up Mom for church on Mother’s Day.  I actually took this shot last week to show Dad that we had arrived safely – Mom broke her foot two days before they came home from Arizona and was just learning how to get around on her scooter.  Those things are so much better than crutches . . .

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Finally, two shots from our family Mother’s Day gathering – proving that grandparenthood and great-grandparenthood look good on my brother and our parents . . .