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.
Typically when we announce an open house I get three or four complaints along the lines of “why didn’t you let us know sooner.” So for those three or four people:
The 2023 Summer Open House at the Lost Art Press storefront is on July 29. We’ll open the doors at 10 a.m. and lock them behind you at 5 p.m. We will probably have a special gift, guest demonstrations, etc. But I don’t know anything more than the date at this point. (And we will of course let you know more when we figure it out.)
During our open day on Saturday, carver David Bignell delivered this carving of a skep, our dividers and some bees. This will perch upon our company’s sign in the window of our Covington storefront (the sign was also carved by David).
We have several of these emblems that we can swap out depending on our mood.
One reader pointed out that the skep or beehive is a symbol of capitalism and accumulated wealth. And that maybe it’s a poor choice of symbol for our company. I have two thoughts on that.
Early mechanical societies used the skep and bees as a symbol of their membership. Busy bees. Worker bees.
If it is a symbol of accumulated wealth, then the symbol is broken – it’s not working for us. Please open a ticket with the Capitalism Help Desk.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Thanks to David for the gorgeous dingbat. We love it. If you have carving needs for your business, please consider contacting him. He has done some fantastic trade signs.
Our storefront – 837 Willard St. Covington, Ky. 41011 – will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday (Nov. 26). We will have our complete line of books and tools there for you to inspect, plus a somewhat-special giveaway for the first 144 customers.
(Uhhh, it’s a free jumbo eraser, branded with our logo. That’s the plan at least, if we don’t burn down the shop while branding these erasers.)
We’ll have some snacks and beverages. And if you ask to “see the clock” and are over 21 years of age, we will escort you to the machine room for a special treat.
Mostly it’s a chance for people to come and see the shop, check out our tools and workbenches and gab about woodworking. Lord knows what else we’ll have sitting around. There’s a Gibson chair on one of the benches. I’m making a staked dining table. And Megan has a weird orange rag on her bench you can ask questions about.
There are lots of great new places to eat while you are here. Right down the street we have The Empanada’s Box, which has great savory and sweet empanadas. Try Olla, a new Mexican place a couple blocks away – great birria tacos. Plus The Standard, Mama’s on Main and Cedar. You will not go hungry in Covington.
While my personal tools stay in my tool chest, we keep the communal ones hanging on the wall behind my bench for students or visiting instructors to use without guilt or asking.
Our “tool wall” is made up of three panels of cherry that cover three bookcases. For most of the year, our shop looks like the photo above. But when we open the shop to the public, we remove the tool walls to reveal our selection of books behind.
It’s a little awkward, but the books are protected from dust, and our workshop doesn’t look like a bookstore.
Several internet readers have asked us about the tools on the wall. Some of them look non-standard or odd. So we shot this short video that goes over the tools on the left side of the wall (the video was shot and edited by our intern, Harper Haynes). We’ll do videos on the other two panels shortly.