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Next Steps

Posted by Laura Z McKone on 12/7/2012 to What's Happening at B&S
December 7, 2012. Hello, everyone. As of this morning we are getting close to completing the refunds due to customers with orders that cannot be filled because of our lost shipment. We are running an extra 10% discount coupon over this weekend, which I hope will give us the extra bump in sales so that we can finish issuing the refunds by Monday. Once that is done, it will be a little easier to evaluate the extent of the damage that has been done, and decide what to do next. Most of you have been so kind and supportive during this time, and many customers have asked that we please keep everyone updated about how things are proceeding. Given that, I wanted to take a few moments to share what I can about the current state of affairs as well as the general direction I am hoping Brass & Silver can take from here.

For the past two to three years, Brass & Silver has been feeling the strain of the economic climate. That strain has been growing progressively worse, not because we haven't had customers, but because we have been unable to produce enough inventory. Since our products can only be made overseas, we have to manufacture and import large quantities at a time. As you can imagine, the amount of capital needed for that is substantial. When the recession hit, banks stopped lending to small business. Then they began reducing credit lines that were already open, so that there was no available credit. We were forced into a situation where we had to deal in cash on hand only. That was okay for a while, but eventually there was not enough working capital left to produce the inventory we needed. Our waiting lists began to grow exponentially. Inventory on hand began to sell out, and so sales volume began to drop.

Fast forward to present day. Our manufacturer finally had a shipment ready to send. and we were so optimistic and excited about it. This was the beginning of our comeback! Since working capital was still more or less non-existent, I had negotiated with the factory to make multiple payments for this shipment. When the ship was about to dock, though, the factory suddenly demanded full payment, knowing full well that I had already sent them all that I had on hand. It was the holiday sales of the merchandise in that shipment that were to generate the funds for the balance due. Less than an ideal situation, but it was a big step on the road to recovery for Brass & Silver. Now, of course, we face the exact opposite of that, as the manufacturer has both the money and the merchandise. Where do things stand today? Well, as I said earlier, we are hoping to be done with the refunds next week. After that, I will most likely need to file for bankruptcy. It is my hope that I can do that in a way that will allow me to keep Brass & Silver operating. If so, then I will rebuild little by little. The brass, silver, and pewter products on hand will continue to be liquidated. I am already working with the two back-up manufacturers with whom I work to create new versions of our most popular metal items. The product line that I will expand will be our glassware. These items are produced in China instead of India, at a factory that produces excellent quality, and is far more reliable than the metal works in India. The cost of importing from China is also far less expensive than it is from India, so placing smaller orders at a time is more feasible. While China creates far superior glassware, though, they are not a good source for quality brass. For that reason, our brass, silver, and pewter product lines will be decreasing significantly.

We have so many customers looking for votive and hurricane glass items that are just not being made anywhere. Assuming we can pull through this crisis, that is where my design and production efforts will be focused. I am planning to create a crowd funding campaign on http://www.indiegogo.com/ to help create some of these new glass items. Currently there are some new pegged votive styles (some of them will be colored glass!) that I want to have made, as well as several different sizes of cylinder hurricane shades. If you have any ideas you would like to share about glass items you would love to have, please post a response. With a lot of luck, and a lot of hard work, I do plan to rebuild and bring those products to you.

Thank you again to all of you who have been so supportive. This is indeed a difficult time, but I am hopeful that we have hit bottom. If not, then I guess the Mayans were right about December 2012 after all!

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