Lots of people inquire about these and they are very hard to find, so this is definitely the find of the week.
Archive | June, 2021
I love a good mystery
I came across an auction on eBay that had a Revere Ware vintage pressure cooker with a manual I had never seen before. Then for some reason, the seller listed the manual separately, so of course, I had to buy it. Here it is:
It seems to be missing the outer cover. This manual is very simple as it appears to be mostly typewriter produced and contains few pictures. Upon first seeing it, I assumed that perhaps it was the very first version of the pressure cooker manual from when they were first produced. Here is what we know about the pressure cookers from the photo guide.
Reading through this new manual, I came across this, from page 3.
Hmm. So this isn’t the first version of the manual, but something that spans both models. There is unfortunately no date on the manual (it is usually on the back cover, which is missing) so that isn’t any help.
My best guess here is that, when they first came out with the redesigned dial gauge model, and they had some of the old model and some of the new model, they quickly needed a manual that could be shipped with both types, until the older inventory was gone. It’s my working theory right now anyways.
Rena Ware is not Revere Ware
Lately we’ve gotten a number of inquiries about parts for Rena Ware. Some people seem to assume that it is the same as Revere Ware, and perhaps this is one reason for the high number of returns we experience on Amazon.com. Despite the similar sounding name, and the fact that some of the pieces do look similar, they are two different brands and the parts for one are generally not interchangeable with parts for the other.
Here are typical post-1968 Revere Ware 6 quart pots, copper bottom and tri-ply.
Here is a similar pot from Rena Ware.
Clearly there are similarities, but a number of stylistic differences. Google doesn’t help the confusion either.
I don’t have a lot of information about Rena Ware; here is what I’ve been able to findNOT.
- The company was founded in 1941 by Fred Zylstra and was focused on waterless cooking. It seems to be privately owned by one of his descendants now.
- It is still in business today (renaware.com), and seems to have a tie to multi-level marketing. I get the impression it isn’t a huge operation, but they do have offices in quite a few countries. They seem to have a larger presence from Mexico through South America. Dunn & Bradstreet shows that they have about $50 million in annual revenue.
- There are about 190 pieces available on eBay compared to 15,000 Revere Ware pieces, so this brand was / is much smaller than Revere Ware ever was.
- According to the Wikipedia article on Oneida:
In 1983, the company acquired Rena-Ware, a Bellevue-based kitchenware manufacturer with a majority international operations. Oneida sold Rena-ware three years later
Hopefully this post makes its way up in the Google results for Rena Ware so people can see clearly that Rena Ware is not Revere Ware, and there will be less confusion around replacement parts.
Selling on Amazon; can this be fixed?
The last year has been plagued by issues selling our replacement parts on Amazon.com. First there was some abuse by a single customer who ordered about 100 parts just so she could go through them and pick the few she wanted with the smallest molding defects, and then returned almost all of them. We stopped selling on Amazon.com for about a month while we worked to tighten down our sales policies to avoid that type of thing in the future, and while Amazon investigated, and possibly banned her from continuing to purchase there.
Then Amazon started suspending some of our listings due to high return rates. We did some major revamping of our listings, added lots of photos with circles and arrows and writing to make it explicitly clear exactly what the parts were and were not made for. Amazon made this very difficult as we had to go through multiple support requests for each part, just to be able to get listing changes approved; the entire process took a month and a half. We also removed the low volume parts that had high return rates figuring people will just have to get them from our website.
Now they’ve once again suspended our listing for our most popular part, the single screw pot handle, that fits most Revere Ware pots from 1968 through the late 2010’s. On reviewing our return rate we see that, despite all of our new “educational” material, we are still seeing lots of returns, perhaps even more than before. And the process to get it restored has become that much more complicated.
I am seriously scratching my head on this one. We have something like a 1% return rate for sales made from our own website. Because people are forced to contact us before they return something, we have a chance to help solve the problem, and often times, these customers just need a little help figuring things out, and we are able to avoid a return, or we can send them a replacement for a defective part.
For sales on Amazon.com some of the return rates approach 25%. It seems that there is just no way to convince Amazon.com customers not to order items they aren’t sure will work, or to at least ask questions before ordering. Furthermore, almost no-one contacts us to ask for help before returning a part, despite the fact that we’ve added explicit instructions to most of our listings on how to contact us through Amazon.com. The only real differences between ordering on our site and Amazon.com is the free shipping. Free shipping, it seems, causes people to act unreasonably, by ordering things they have no real expectation will work, and making no attempt to get help before giving up.
The real shame of all this is that it makes items unavailable for everyone else. More and more of our parts are now available on our own website only.
I’m not sure of the path forward this time, but I’ve got a few ideas.
- Raise the prices on Amazon.com significantly to discourage casual buyers looking for generic parts and that don’t read the details.
- Start shipping problem items ourselves so that people have to contact us for a return, and we can interact with them. Not excited about this one; there are a lot of shipments and I already have a day job.
- Somehow get Amazon.com to stop returning parts deemed defective by customers back into inventory. Seriously, look at this return report.
Does returning items that customers claim are defective back into inventory strike anyone else as odd? I can’t help but wonder if quite a few of my returns are the same few defective or customer damaged parts getting sold over and over again.
- Start stuffing every part with a detailed troubleshooting guide, and contact information.
- Stop selling on Amazon.com altogether. I’ve thought about this from time-to-time. It seems that the majority of time I spend on this business is now related to Amazon.com. This will probably mean that our sales will drop by about half, but my workload for this business (above and beyond my real day job) will drop by 75% or more. We ship things to our fulfillment center for our own website sales in boxes, with a cover sheet. We ship things to Amazon.com and every item has to be labeled, and some get an additional insert (to try and help reduce the return rate ha ha). This is a business of passion much more than profit, so I don’t like the idea of making replacement parts less available to people, but Amazon.com is just not a good partner anymore.
That’s what I’ve come up with so far. Any Fulfillment by Amazon gurus out there with some other ideas?
Then and now
Revere Ware is iconic, no question about that. It was a mainstay for a good part of a generation or two and there continues to be a strong following today, even though it is no longer in production. But all things related to Revere Ware over the years do show some relationship to the era in which they came from.
And over time, standards change. We know there has been a lot of vocality on social issues in the last few years, especially with the #metoo and #blacklivesmatter movements.
Sometimes, when we look back at a snapshot in time, to see how things were, it helps us understand just how much things have changed.
Take for example a part of an ad from 1948.
Clearly, it was assumed then that the women’s place was in the kitchen. We have none of that at my house in this day and age. 🙂
And consider this ad, from 1970.
I get the play on words; it’s even a bit funny, in a way. But I don’t think women of today would appreciate being referred to as a “dish”. I have to wonder if they did in 1970. Perhaps they didn’t, but didn’t feel empowered enough to speak up about it. I think in both cases Revere Ware was likely just going with the prevailing attitudes of the day. With three daughters, I appreciate that attitudes towards women have improved significantly since then.
And sometimes things get worse. Sitting around with some friends yesterday (thank goodness we can start doing that again), we were lamenting the throw away nature of much of what is produced these days. Not so back in the golden olden days of Revere Ware, as evidenced by the fact that so many people are still using their 50,60, 70, 80 year old Revere Ware.
A very wise person once said “Take what you like an leave the rest.” I’ll appreciate the good things about Revere Ware and know that some of their advertising is a bit dated by today’s standards.
A brand new (old stock) square skillet
Wow. You really don’t ever see something like this.
If you’ve ever wanted a square skillet, this is a once-in-a-long-while opportunity. Right now the bid is below what these normally sell for used.
Revere Ware on eBay continues to grow
It was less than two months ago that we bench marked the number of Revere Ware related listing on eBay at just under 13,000. But now:
Wow. Just wow. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what is causing this upsurge to continue at such a rapid rate. In much of the country, life is slowly getting somewhat back to normal. Our sales have slowed a little from the holiday high, but still remain far above our typical level as evidenced by this graph of monthly sales for all the years we’ve been in business.
You can see 2020 broke ranks in March / April from prior years and continued at a high level throughout the year, interrupted only when we removed our parts from Amazon.com in October 2020 due to some inappropriate customer behavior. This year the part has continued, with last months sales more like what a typical December used to be like.
There has been a lot of talk about what changes that were forced upon us by the pandemic will remain. It seems that cooking at home is still wildly popular by all measures.