Wednesday, May 26th, 2021
It's a bit of a challenge to know where to start on the topic of the Not Moving but I want to share how bananas it's been.
Most importantly I'm going to start with a Thank You. Because of you, my beloved Treats for Chickens customers...we needed to move into a larger space. Much larger.
I thought we had our "space" situation solved when we took occupancy of an additional unit in our current complex in November of 2020. [thankfully the landlord still thinks I'm a great human despite learning I was raising 25 baby chicks upstairs in the office [his office] right around the same time.....lol]. Anyways, it quickly became apparent that two spaces was not enough to hold pallets of raw ingredients, finished/case boxed products and our online and distributor shipping departments.
Ahnnnd, this is where I thank you, again. Orders for products continue to flow in and we continue to seek out ingredients and packaging and case boxes - ordering them as fast as we can find them because after all, it's still Covid and there's been quite an impact on logistics. Supply and demand I'm looking at you!
For instance: certified organic Chamomile has been unavailable since late winter of 2020. It's nearly June 2021. Not a single flower or bud available in the quantity we need. Sure we can buy it 25 lbs at a time bhut that's not economical for the many hundreds of pounds we need to make Nesting Box Blend, Molt Mender, New Chicks in Town, Healthy Hen Wellness - so we've had to ration these items in terms of sales. But this is a topic for another blog post, another day.
Onward: so here's the thing: I've been working toward finding one large space for us to operate out of since we added our second space in November, 2020. We took occupancy into our second space [two doors down] and by February 2021 [four months!] were at max capacity again. Again, thanks to orders and our fabulous chicken loving customers.
Because we buy everything in pallets: ingredients, packaging, shipping boxes - and we have A.LOT of ingredients. In order to make chicken crack we need the space to effectively house a minimum of eight pallets [it's an 8 ingredient product] That's just for Chicken Crack. So, space gets gobbled up damn fast. We get vertical with our pallet racks but most pallets come to us weighing 2,000 lbs and while the shelving is rated for it...and can handle the weight - it's just a lot.
So, I started the time critical search for 5,000 sq. feet in Sonoma County. I found one that was 5k and one that was 8k. That's it. This real estate market is absurd. And, even though we are dealing with the back lash of Covid office abandonments and restaurant closures......manufacturing space is sparse. As in there was 1 suitable place to lease in a county with a population of 500k people. One.Space. #challengeaccepted
Next up: moving a Certified Organic operation is not just a pack-up-and relocate process either. It took 6 weeks to get the paperwork sorted out and approved to move. [Our certifiers are experiencing staff shortages, childcare issues, covid restrictions too.] That's the shortest version of what took place in those six weeks btw. And, we had to agree to not make any product in our new location until we could be inspected .....which could take weeks? How many weeks....? Well, we were planning on 6 weeks.
How do you stay in business when you can not make product for 6 weeks you might be asking yourself? Well you make it in advance, in the location you don't have room to even create the normal production schedule you are on to begin with.......and that is driving the need to move in the first place. Did you follow that? Like, wtf? Right? We are really out of room now.
I should say that my team has been splendid and so generous and patient with all this and I consider myself very fortunate. In spite of our own staffing shortages these folks have doubled up on manufacturing and production, walking between pallets of finished case boxes to get from one room to another with little human space. Occasionally climbing over a pallet to get to another pallet to grab an otherwise lighter item needed at the moment.
As a company my team and I are still full steam ahead preparing for our partnership with Chewy.com, re-structuring on Amazon, planning to launch feed [which will take a huge amount of square feet btw], scouring the world, literally, for ingredients to keep our products in production and available for you. Challenged on the daily with shortages, inbound shipping delays and over charges, the cost of all.the.things increasing in the name of Covid while also taking two and three times as long to arrive. I mean, seriously.
You have felt some of this on your end when trying to get things done at home or work too, yes?
I don't know exactly the time or place or the specific thought that changed the whole trajectory but there were sleepless nights, long walks [and short runs] along the Petaluma waterfront [aka slue] and a pretty intense spreadsheet - plus a shit ton of intuition. But I didn't know it was intuition until.....
So.much.anxiety! I thought it might be anxiety but now...so much later I am certain it was intuition. According to Melissa Urban, Whole30 Melissa Urban, anxiety chatters away incessantly and intuition just lands and, then, there is space for decisions to be made. And, that my friend is what happened.
Maybe it was the gnarly long term lease I was about to sign on the ass end of a pandemic. Mind you, everyone else is trying to get out of their lease.....Maybe it was that in February the economy looked different than it was looking on May 3rd or 6th or was it May 11th? I don't know. Everything just felt different. Like opposing forces.
And, so to wrap this up:
I pulled the plug on the move and backed out of my lease before I signed it [can I get a hallelujah?]. Chewy will start a little later. Amazon is plugging right along, feed is happening - still [so be on the lookout for the announcement on that one!] and my ever so wonderful landlord, we call him Sid, has agreed to let me know when one of his 90+ units in "forklift driving distance" becomes available for us to lease, month-to-month.
I'm working on what the next seven months will look like for Treats for Chickens and its taking longer than I want. It comes as no surprise that anxiety continues to chatter away about all the what if's and you shouldaah's relating to the pandemic and what it means to continue to scale a business, in a pandemic, while keeping customers happy and chickens healthy. But I'm here for it and again, I've got the dream team with a bonus of customers that are kind and patient and at the end of the day...my chickens love me for my treats [they are very transparent about their loyalty to the treats].
Now on to your happy and healthy chickens: here at Treats for Chickens we are over stocked with whaay to much product and YOU reap the benefits. Please enjoy the 15% off sale. It runs until Thursday, May 27, 2021. Use coupon code StayinPut during checkout.
To health + happiness and many, many thanks!
PS: sale does not apply to Subscribe and Save orders.