I promised an update on the state of the business last month, my apologies for the delay. While we did decent sales over the holidays, there was a little lull following Christmas. That ended abruptly a few weeks back and we’ve been going full out, with almost double our daily December sales through most of January and into February. I got a moment to breathe today so thought I would post now that I have the chance.
In looking around, it seems that a couple of factors are probably driving the increase. First, like him or hate him, the #1 reason is likely Glenn Beck’s new program, Independence, USA. Also, NatGeo has new episodes of Doomsday Preppers airing as well. What this really indicates is a trend that prepping is becoming more accepted, and noticed, in the popular culture. There are definitely some folks who are hearing the call and doing their best to catch up quickly. And for the rest of us who don’t watch much TV all I can say is the more folks prepping, the less likely they would ever need what we have.
No matter the reason, more business is good! The bad (well, good for customers) is that it is, as always, coupled with more competition. Another half-dozen vendors of food storage supplies have popped up recently as well. There really is no better time to buy, whether from us or any of the other reputable sellers in the marketplace…since we entered the market in 2010, the average price of Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers (all sizes) has gone down a little over 25%. In a world of inflation and rising fuel costs, that is pretty remarkable. It also has painted pretty vividly to my wife and I as we run this business that to survive the commoditization of our products, we need to expand in several ways.
First, although I really don’t know much about it, is marketing. We have some pretty fun ideas in the works that I hope everyone will like. To be honest, I don’t know if what we’re working on will drive sales, but if I do my job right, it will make you smile, which is good enough for me. I hope to have a rollout of our new marketing program at the very beginning of the 2nd quarter.
Second is an expanded, but more focused, product selection. Yes, I know, what the heck does that mean? Well, as space is at a premium in our work area, I don’t want to bring in tons of new products. I tried that last year and I ended up with a lot of inventory I’m still trying to clear. What I do want to do is offer you the best product I can find in a category. For example, I’ve had more personal requests from my social circle for a particular brand and style of bug-out-bag that I’ve had to reorder them 3 times just based on word-of-mouth due to its perfect size, ruggedness, and capacity. We originally carried them at one of the gun shows, and it was the best-selling item we had, even over our main product lines. So I plan to offer the bag as ‘the best in class’ product for bug-out/car bags. Next would be the storm-proof matches we currently offer in the store. I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews on them and sales are still brisk. That would be my pick for ‘fire’. And so on down the line for a decent line of ‘essential’ preparedness products. Food storage would still be our primary niche, but we want to offer our customers some additional product options. We also want to be able to say ‘hey, this is a quality product’ and offer only those things myself and my family rely on for our own needs.
Third, we are still searching for a real logo. If anyone has a talent in that area, please let me know! Here are some ideas we are toying with (and if anyone has opinions, positive or negative, please let me know!):
Fourth, we want to offer our customers products that will make their food storage and prepping easier, and we are open to ideas of what those might be. Is there something you thought ‘I wish someone would make THAT, it would help me out so much…’ Are there things you do with your own preps that might be applicable to the larger market? Racking, organizational tools, lists, or anything else? If there is, please drop me a note at email@example.com. We’ll be looking for a few good ideas to turn into reality this year.
Finally, I feel incredibly guilty that I don’t spend more time blogging or Facebooking. The intention is there, but I just can’t find the hours in the day very often. (I’m putting off doing my taxes right now to write this) However, I do realize that these are important tools to connect with folks. Thus, I am considering hiring a writer to keep folks up to date and informed on what is happening in our business and in the preparedness culture. Good idea or bad? I get some of our larger competitors newsletters (well, many of them are more like sales pitches=) in my email every week and I want to be able to offer similarly professional communications. To do that I would need to either clone myself 3 times or find a precocious teenager (or unemployed anyone) who would like 10-20 hours of work weekly. (though I’ll be upfront and say the pay would likely be about the same as your average summer job…low) If you or anyone you know fits that bill, please drop me a line.
As always, thanks for being here and for our customers, thank you for providing my wife and I with the best jobs anyone has ever had. I realize I am blessed in so many ways every day when I wake up and don’t have to drive 30 miles to work. We still work hard every day, but there is such a difference in our energy levels and sense of well-being knowing that we’re making a living while helping out thousands of folks like us. If there is ever anything you think we should be doing, but aren’t, please let us know. Heck, if we’re doing something right, I hope you’ll let us know that too!
(Edit and PS: One upgrade for the store is that we are now printing and including packing slips for all orders placed through the website!)