Happy Thursday! But, really, who's counting anymore-- social distancing has completely thrown off my perception of which day of the week it is. I hope you are all sheltering in place and practicing extreme care.
I just wanted to kind of let everyone know where we’re at with getting things back up and going. I am still working diligently to reach out to anyone that has an open order with our store. We’re about halfway through the list now and we should have everyone emailed with a resolution by April 15th. So, if you haven’t heard from me yet, it is coming, I promise.
I knew coming back online would be very tough and I did not expect forgiveness for leaving anyone hanging. But I can say that I my heart has been warmed by how many truly wonderful emails I have received this past week. CCF is deeply personal to me and I am thankful that we still have people that are willing to support my dream.
In retrospect taking down the site temporarily at the start of this year was not the right move and it left a lot of you guys feeling hurt and anxious. We just had orders coming in during our relocation and I thought that would be the quickest way to prevent any additional orders coming in (because I knew any incoming orders would be delayed until that transition was done). It was never my intention to leave anyone feeling like they couldn't reach me, and I will never be able to apologize enough. I'm in this for the long-haul guys, this is my passion and my heart.
As most small businesses, we are facing some challenges around COVID19. The timing could not be worse for a business looking to come back online for a busy spring season, but as long as we're all doing our part to stay safe these challenges are worth it.
I’m going to share a little bit about how we import for those of you who don’t know. For quality's sake we source our imports using three day service. Those of you who have been with me since presales know that I quoted a longer lead time than that, but sometimes it would take farms a week to ship and I always tried to allot extra time in case Customs decided to do a full box check. But every single box we’ve previously ordered from Korea we have imported using 3-day EMS service because the less time a plant in a box the better our quality is. It’s something I have always held to. I cannot control actual transit times, but I can make sure we’re using the fastest service possible and I have always done that for our boxes.
I could have never anticipated the impact COVID19 would play in my ability to import. I have placed orders for ten different shipments in the last three weeks. The first three boxes were to just test the shipping infrastructure. Those boxes shipped well, normal transit times. At that point I felt comfortable to send our email that went out everyone and announce our plans for a gift card listing. After that email went out I ordered seven more boxes for our gift card listing. Only two of those seven boxes have arrived so far. We’re East Coast and all of our shipments come in through an airport in New York. New York has obviously been the hardest hit area and services are slowing to a minimum there. Plants were not designed to sit in boxes for more than a week, some will do OK, but ultimately if we get these plants in their quality will be impacted. Quality is something that I never want to compromise on, so it leaves me at a place of uncertainty regarding our regular weekly uploads at the moment.
We did expect to fully come back online this month. I know how much our country is hurting and I know that more than ever how much our little twined-clad boxes are needed to brighten the day of our Community. My heart breaks that I cannot give you guys a firm date on when we’ll be back to our regular weekly schedule. It's good for my soul to send some sunshine and I desperately want to get back to a more normal routine. CCF has been my entire life for almost two years, but no one is immune to the effects of this pandemic.
I do want to be fully transparent about the position that we are in at present. I promised a big, private gift card listing and I had the best intentions around that. When I made the decision to announce that listing, packages were still moving through the system normally. And since the outbreak continued to work its way through New York, it has become clear that this will impact our business as well.
The first thing I do every morning is check our tracking numbers and one of the last things that I do every night before I go to bed is check them again. There has been absolutely no movement on these remaining seven shipments since the first of the month and these were scheduled to be here on the 4th.
At the present time I cannot say when we'll have enough in stock to do a full listing. Currently the site is limited to gift card holders and there are a few plants under Custom Requests and USPS is still doing pick ups.
What I can promise is we will not sell another single plant until we do the gift card listing that I promised. I cannot financially afford to keep ordering boxes that aren’t arriving. As soon as we see movement on these boxes we will continue to order, you have my word. No one wants to get our site back up to normal operations quicker than I do. I have deeply missed the sense of comradery that our site provides.
If you are looking for other ways to pass the time we have just released our 2019 archives for you to search through and Wishlist. You can see those archives by going to the rare succulent menu and selecting the last menu option ‘Past Offerings’ or you can visit it by clicking here.
And if you're not familiar with our Wishlist feature you can read more about that here. Our Wishlist feature is not a super robust system yet (but this is something that is high priority for us to get a little more streamlined). Right now you still have to send your wishlists to firstname.lastname@example.org and until the pandemic has settled a bit our ability to import is being impacted. But, scrolling through some of our top succulents last year may be a fun way to pass the time and we will work on your wishlists just as soon as shipping is a bit more predictable.
I continue to pray for our country and humanity as a whole. If there’s anything that I can do to brighten your day or if you just want to chat with me (still very busy working through customer service stuff), but always feel free to just share thoughts with me or if you just want to sit down with a cup of coffee and exchange a few emails about anything I’d love that. Responding to those emails are the best part of my day, so always feel free to drop in my inbox.
I thank you so much for being a part of my family. I know I have said that many times in the past, but this business is my heart and I spend the majority of my time with you guys, shipping to you, preparing our next upload or sourcing plants for your gardens. So you guys truly are like family to me. Please don’t forget to pop into our Community Tab and say hi, it's the very last thing I check every night (after looking at our tracking). I have truly, truly missed seeing activity there, that tab means so much more to me than anything that we do.
A lot of our Community members have messaged about Holly, the puppy our little community convinced me we needed as a family. You guys were so right and we all love her dearly. She’s doing great, cannot imagine our life without her (please excuse my yard, like I mentioned we had a water main break in the underground lines and it completely washed out our yard :(
So just to kind of close this update here, I am still working through any and all open orders. I will be reaching out to you no later than the 15th if you are owed something (this includes our subscription customers, I am so very, very, very sorry). Thank so very much for the patience you have shown me. And I am so very sorry if I have left you hanging, that was never my intention.
I will still reach out to our gift card holders by the end of the month and kind of let you guys know where we are with things, at very least I will be holding a private GBU for you guys, but I’m truly hoping we have some additional freshly imported plants here by the end of the month as well. I spared no expense for that listing and I am heartbroken these plants are just sitting in boxes somewhere. And as soon as things start to return to normal with our transit times we will return to our regular upload schedule, so just keep watching the home page and I’ll keep checking in :)
And if you're still reading, thank you! I wanted to share one more final thought, I believe music ties you to a place in time. I'm curious what's at the top of your rotation this week. I've had this song on repeat this week: Counting Crows: A Long December
I have literally felt like this has been one long December for me personally, but I am sure some of you are starting to feel that way too. Please try to remember we're all in this together and now is the time to lift each other up and remember how special we all are. Each one of you brings something to the table in our online communities, to your virtual friends and to each other. Try to keep that in mind as you interact with others virtually throughout the day and try to find a way to make someone else's day just a little bit better.
If you feel like chatting my email is email@example.com and I would love to grab a cup of coffee with you. My days are still a little long trying to get everything squared away, but I will respond just as fast as I can. I live for a good chat, so always feel free. Thinking of each and everyone of you and my heart is full. Thank you so much for being there for me and supporting my site.
PS: If you're reading this from a desktop it has been formatted for iPhone, so please forgive any weird spacing.