The holiday season is the busiest time of year at our shop! Kicking off with our annual birthday celebration in late November, the holidays are a flurry of visiting customers, incoming shipments, and outgoing orders. It’s a mad and merry season that we love, but we put in a lot of prep work behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly!
You may be surprised to learn that behind the scenes in our little shop, we’ve already been preparing for the holidays for months. Holiday prep work begins about halfway through the year so that by the time November and December roll around, we’re ready to focus on what matters: you!
In the quieter summer months, we’re already starting to think about the holidays. The relative calm of summer is a great time for us to make improvements to the flow of space in our shop! At the beginning of each year we take stock of what improvements we’d like to make to our space, and summertime is when we break out the hammer and nails.
This summer we built a new display shelf for our Traveler’s and Hobonichi collections, hung a pegboard for accessories, created a spinner stand for hanging sticker sheets, and built a whole new display for our Maileg corner.
Our holiday season really kicks off in August, when the summer trade shows take place. This is when we order the bulk of our inventory for the rest of the year. We check out the newest products from our favorite vendors, choose planners and calendars for the coming year, and try not to order one of everything!
In September, the boxes start arriving. It seems as if every day our friendly UPS driver is muscling ten new cartons of goodies into the shop. The real work has begun! Our staff opens the boxes as soon as possible to check for any damaged items, receive the new products into our inventory system, and make space for the next shipment.
Space is the real challenge at this time of year as we absorb all the new arrivals. In the shop, we’re constantly shuffling items around to try to make room for more inventory. In the basement, we wrestle with heaps of cardboard as we break down boxes and haul them to the recycling center.
In October, the pace picks up. As we continue unloading new boxes, we begin planning our holiday events and preparing for an influx of customers. We start doing little things to make the holidays run smoothly: ordering extra shipping supplies for online orders, stamping our shopping bags, and checking that barcodes can be scanned to help checkout move quickly.
In October, we also start work on our new window display, a project which takes many hours of design and building work to accomplish.
November is when the crowds begin to come! Around the middle of the month we double the number of staff on duty so we can help more customers (and take lunch breaks). Online, we open up the holiday section of our website, working hard to add the year’s new holiday cards and gift wrap and to create helpful holiday gift guides. We also begin hosting holiday events, from our birthday celebration and fountain pen event to creative workshops and vendor trunk shows.
Forget about planning: the holidays are here! December is busy, busy, busy, right up until the end.
Even when the seasonal rush is over, we don’t really stop holiday planning. Our team has a big debrief each year to take stock of what went well, what we learned, and what we can improve for the next year.
But first, we take a moment to celebrate the team’s hard work with a staff dinner—and a little R&R!