Posted by Holly Mentzel on 5/10/2012 to Product Info and Trivia
Many times we find ourselves out of stock of certain products for extended periods of time. This can be very frustrating for our customers, and trust us, it is extremely frustrating for us as well. We wanted to take a moment to explain our production process.
As many of you are aware, we manufacture our brass products in the same factory that was used by both Baldwin Brass and Virginia Metalcrafters. That factory is located in India, and consistently produces excellent heirloom quality brass goods. The downside, though, is that we can only produce and import merchandise in large quantities. We only receive shipments one or two times per year. So, if we run out of a product unexpectedly, the wait time from putting that item on the next production run list to actually receiving the product can be as long as eighteen months. While we do try to anticipate the demand for each product we carry, there isn't any way to accurately predict sales. In particular, many of our clients are event planners or set designers who purchase last minute in large quantities. On occasion we have even had entire lots of product be purchased while it was still on it's way to our warehouse.
To add to that already complicated system, the economic conditions have severely limited our purchasing capability. Banks are simply not lending to small businesses these days. For three years now we have found our only option to purchase using all cash. To make that last as long as possible, we have had to decrease the piece count for each item in our production run. For example, an item like our #1005 Concord Candleholder is a classic best seller. Normally we would produce 150 pieces at a time of this item. Currently, though, we are only able to produce 50 pieces per production run. That increases the likelihood that we will run out of that item well before we will be able to replenish our stock. Hopefully the economic tide will turn in the near future. We know that the current financial strain is only temporary, and we are patiently waiting for better times for all of us!
The final factor in our restocking puzzle has to do with the amount of time required to complete and import a production run. Since each and every piece we make is finished by hand, it is difficult to accurately predict how long it will take to finish a container of goods. Each shipment has thousands of pieces, all of which were hand buffed, polished, lacquered, triple wrapped, and boxed. This is a process that takes months and months, but we never know for sure how long it will be. Once the entire shipment is completed and packed, the freight then begins it's long journey to us. From the factory, the shipment travels by rail to the ocean port. At the port, our product has to wait for an available ocean container. That sometimes takes just a matter of days. Other times, however, we have had to wait over a month. We never know in advance, and unfortunately have no control over, what the wait time will be. When the freight is packed into a container and onto a ship, the trip over the water to the port here in the US is an additional three to four weeks. At that time the customs and import process begins. When all goes smoothly, our shipment is released from US Customs within two weeks, but yet again we never know for sure. If our shipment is selected for random manual inspection there can be delays of an additional couple of weeks. Once we obtain that release, our goods are finally ready for delivery to our warehouse.
As you can see, this is a lengthy and unpredictable process. We certainly try our best to give accurate dates, but at this point in time it is just not possible to be highly specific. Once we are able to produce larger quantities at a time of each piece our inventory levels will be more stable. Until that time, we ask for your continued patience. Please do use our waiting lists for products you would like that are out of stock. We will notify you as soon as they become available again. And of course, please never hesitate to contact us by phone or email if you have questions!