Saturday, June 29, 2013

Spam. It can get us going and coming

Our monthly E-mail newsletter is ready to send, with just one little hitch. One of the new books that is featured is titled, Encouraging Conversation: Resources for Talking about Same-Sex Blessings, edited by Frederica Harris Thompsett. It is a book to assist the conversations within congregations about this important topic.
The Internet application which we use to publish our monthly newsletters through prides itself on protecting those who receive newsletters from unwanted messages and from spam and it is one reason that we work with them.
No doubt you can see it coming, the book’s subtitle contains the word “sex.” Spam filters are often set to treat as spam messages that contain words such as that. Before we could complete the newsletter, before we could send a test version to ourselves to verify that all was well with it, the newsletter had to first be studied by a live person at iContact.
I’m glad that iContact verifies for the recipients that messages from them are free from spam. I’m not quite so glad that our newsletter, even a draft of it sent to ourselves for verification, with a subtitle about same-sex blessings requires the delay so that a real human at iContact can view it and then allow it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Who does the checking?

We received the first order of a popular calendar used by congregations yesterday. The calendars were right on schedule arriving just about the same time that they did last year.
We were preparing to ship about a dozen of them to various customers when Cara on our staff noticed something strange inside. The month of May contains all of the liturgical feasts and fast days and other information. That’s good. But, why does the month look strange? Oh, there it is. The numbers for each day of the month are missing!
May 5th, my sister's birthday, is which day? There is no way to tell on the calendar. This is not helpful.
Immediately I contacted the publisher. They replied today, in part, “Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. This is a manufacturing error and we’ll have it redone as soon as possible.”
It was a topic of repeat conversation amongst our small staff yesterday. So who does the checking of a calendar before it is shipped to retailers? Anybody? It seems that it would be a prudent activity.
Every package that we ship to a customer is checked by someone other than the person who filled and sold the order. And still, some errors slip through.
I wonder how large was the print run for that calendar? I wonder how long it will take the publisher to “have it redone.”

Monday, June 3, 2013

Life is full of adjustments and compromises, so is the life of a store.

Fifteen years ago, when we moved into this current building, we set up the Shipping and Receiving area. It was a handy arrangement. We could receive deliveries and ship to customers while also being available to help visitors in our bricks and mortar store as well as those on the phone.
In these past fifteen years the numbers of products and sales has increased, as it should have. We now process several times more items in the same space and the same configuration of counters and computers that we did when we moved in here.
It is past time to increase the size of the shipping and receiving area. It is also time to rearrange the store to handle the increased traffic. More space required in Shipping and Receiving, in a building of finite size, requires a reduction of space for other things. We will use the space where the children’s books have been for this enlargement. That means a chain reaction. Children’s books will be moved further back in the store. This means that Fiction, Biographies, Poetry, Cookbooks, and others have to move to make room for Children’s. It’s like the classic slider puzzle game where you need to move other tiles so that you can move the one that you want to move.
These named book categories are in the back of the store. We have begun the process in the front of the store by consolidating the displays of books and gifts to make room for the books that need to be moved so that there will be room for Children’s books to move over a few feet so that the Shipping and Receiving areas can expand.
Life is full of adjustments and compromises, so is the life of a store. Hopefully this adjustment will improve the lives of our customers and of our staff, at least concerning the shopping of books and gifts. We are not decreasing the number of books in the store. We are simply reorganizing them, hopefully for the better.