After many months of study and research, John and I have decided to take a big and overdue step with Lost Art Press. We are now planning to bring fulfillment in-house and do it here in Covington, Kentucky.
For the first six years of Lost Art Press, our families fulfilled every order placed by individuals or bookstores. We stored inventory under beds, in closets and in my sunroom. By 2013, we were out of room, and our order volume was still increasing. So for the last 10 years we’ve been using fulfillment centers (this industry is called 3PL) to ship out your orders.
Our current 3PL company does a great job. But we are well past the point where we should be doing this ourselves. Why? It will be cheaper and give us much more flexibility.
Because all the 3PL services are a la carte, doing things such as offering signed editions, including stickers, fliers or extra personal touches in orders is not possible. Well, it’s possible, but it’s not a good idea financially. Everything costs money. Dropping a sticker in a box? Cha-ching. Pulling inventory to sign it? Several big cha-chings. Experimenting with different boxes and packaging? So many cha-chings. Writing short notes to customers we know personally? Impossible.
We have hired an experienced fulfillment manager, who should start in June. And we are looking for a building in Covington. We want it to be big enough to accommodate other future dreams of ours, such as having a dedicated retail storefront with regular hours. Able to store a lot more wood. To have enough room for Naked Woodworking Yoga (just kidding).
We aren’t abandoning our offices on Willard Street. This building belongs to me and will remain the center of our editorial and research efforts. And where Megan and I will offer classes.
Bringing fulfillment in-house is going to be expensive and difficult. But we have good people who know how to set up a warehouse, a friendly city government that is helping us with our property search and good relations with our bank and creditors.
In the coming weeks and months, there might even be some opportunities for y’all to lend a hand (any tuckpointers out there?). So stay tuned.
— Christopher Schwarz
45 thoughts on “Time for More Bricks & Mortar”
I ought to move to your location. I too need more room—and I would share the cost of the building. Colorado has become so expensive.
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
Then your move went well
Apologies to Kipling (safer to mess with dead poets than live ones)
Good luck on the building search.
I believe the former IRS complex is still available…
This is what the IRS complex looks like today:
Tore the sucker down and they are re-establishing the 19th-century city grid.
That Dropbox link doesn’t work. It looks like a link that will only work when logged in as you.
Here’s a nice time-lapse of the building coming down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIRdv4ruEAk&t=24s
Did they just bury a body at 1:48? 🙂
That time lapse reminds me of how methodically the neighborhood rabbits eat my tulips.
When you get a building, keep the blog updated with renovations etc. I would venture that I’m not the only LAP customer who enjoys renovating old buildings.
We could work out a trade. An hour of renovation carpentry for an hour of class time….
Sounds exciting- best of luck!
Does Mike Siemsen do yoga?
Sounds great Chris et all. I hope it all goes well for you and everyone concerned.
Don’t threaten Mike Siemsen with a good time…
Siemsen would be your lead instructor
Oh please, NO! Megan and I could host kitten yoga. That sounds much safer.
Well I hope you know more about yoga than do I, then. (The cats would know more about it than do I)
Good on ya, and good luck.
Awsome! Good luck.
Sounds like a smart move, my old boss always said it’s best to keep all the profit centers in-house. Good luck!
“Naked Woodworking Yoga”
One word: Slivers.
As a native Cincinnatian, and hoping to come back home for a visit, I’m glad you are keeping your business and future business in the area. My mom grew up not so far from you on Willard, and she’d be happy to see this too! Congrats and wishing you all the best and continued success!!
So will there be book warehouse cats ?
Shhhh… I’m planning to get a couple, then ask forgiveness
I’ll want a video of a cat driving a forklift.
That will be a bear to heat!!
Read the caption!
Exiting news! Good luck in your search.
I’ve done a bunch of repointing when I used to teach Historic Preservation at The Boston Architectural College. I wish I was closer but happy to come visit a couple times if needed to lend a hand. As an NBSS Preservation Carpentry graduate I love playing building detective and would be happy to look over what you pick and give advice and/or can put you in touch with some of the full time experts we use at the school. (Many are New England based but some are spread throughout the midwest)
I look forward to seeing this new phase of LAP.
I’m still willing to be the night watchman.
That is so exciting. I’m glad you already found your fulfillment manager. I’m sure they’ll be happy to be in on this project while the building is being chosen.
Of course, now we’re all going to expect signed books with stickers in the box every time.
Good move, I think.
Cool Beans, Your growing!
Now if you would just pay me an outrageous salary I’ll help you with your “mission statement”.
Maybe do a Kaizen Event where we switch how you do everything you do and turn it upside down! First I would have to find a Japanese guy who pretends he can’t speak English and has to run conversations through a translator. Maybe we could make some organizational charts!
Just kidding, but all those things are “ real” and I’ve been through them and much worse.
By the way, while I have you laughing ( I hope) I found a white on black rule on Amazon.
The smallest divisions are in 1/16 increments! You can even read it!
It goes under “woodworking ruler”, I think the Chinese are watching you because that’s where it’s made.
Sold by vicrays tools, anodized aluminum, seems very high quality but I just got it and haven’t put it through it’s paces.
Correction, it has 1/32 markings as well as millimeters but both sides have 1/16 graduations.
Sounds like a great move. I can personally tell you that your entrepreneurial journey inspired me to step away from a job that paid well, but was miserable otherwise, and be my own boss. It’s not in the same field as you, but the reasons and subsequent rewards are nearly the same.
Would this make it possible to ship directly to your neighbors up north?
Either way, good luck and I hope it goes well for you!
You had me at “Naked Woodworking Yoga” and then lost me at “(just kidding).”
In all seriousness, I work in the supply chain software industry. What my employer does is so-called “enterprise” level so I don’t think we’d be a direct fit for what you might need. But if the LAP team ever starts evaluating any inventory/warehouse management solutions or data collection systems — meaning, the software that lets you use scanners/mobile devices to keep track of inventory, pick and ship orders, etc., I am happy to ask my colleagues to help find some real world feedback on the systems you might be evaluating.
Presumably you can see the email address I put in to make this comment, in which case, you know how to find me!
I take this as a sign of good health of my favorite knowledge outlet. All the best.
Dang it. I liked having the fulfillment center in Whitestown. Since it is just down the road, I get my orders the next day.
But it will be nice to have a retail location, I have always wanted to stop by the shop in Covington when I am in Cincinnati, but I don’t like to make be a nuisance to you guys while you are working.
Good for you! I applaud these efforts.
Sounds exciting – nothing like controlling your own “stuff” As for warehouse kitties please be advised that a feline or two will absolutely deter & control mice & rats. I called on a very large commercial printer and one day I noticed a cat sleeping in the middle of someone’s desk. The customer shared that the cat was stray and the employees had all pitched in to take her to vet and she thus became a “shop cat” This was a huge place with probably 50 employees and they had spent thousands of dollars on pest control every year – to no avail. Six weeks later there were no signs of rodents – so long huge pest control bill!
I think you mean a feline or four?
Well, you could get an “unfixed” male & female and have a herd!