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Things are getting back to normal

Our sales continue to be substantially higher than the same period last year.  Because has been limiting restocking shipments for all but essential items, we were starting to get worried about our inventory running out; we began the pandemic lockdown with about 3 months of inventory for normal volumes we expected this time of year, and some of our parts inventory were getting thing.

Amazon did start allowing some restocking of non-essential items, but in the last few weeks, we were very limited in what we could send; we only managed to get a few part numbers that were close to being exhausted restocked and could only send a small amount of each item.

That all changed last week when, without receiving any official notice, we discovered that there were no longer limits on the restocking of any of our parts.  We’ve managed to ship a considerable amount of inventory to now that should bring us back to our 2-3 month stock level targets.

We’ve also continued to frequently restock our fulfillment center that serves orders made from our website.  You should have no trouble getting our items from either source.


Sales so far in May – Wow

We previously noted that our April sales were considerably higher than the typical April, and more in line with a month around the holidays, our busiest time of year.

Well so far May is on track to be even bigger than April and overall one of our biggest months of the last year.

With all the talk of economic reopening in the news over the last week, our sales seem to indicate people are still at home and looking for things to do.


We’ve added Puerto Rico to our shipping destinations

After a customer request, we have added Puerto Rico as a shipping and billing option.  We’ve hesitated to add countries other than the US and Canada to our shipping destinations because configuration and rate selection must be done separately for each country. Puerto Rico however gets the same US domestic shipping rates so we were able to add it to our US domestic shipping zone, which made things a lot easier.

However, because Puerto Rico falls in a grey area where it isn’t really a separate country than the US, and it isn’t a state, there is one quirk; when you select Puerto Rico as the “country”, it doesn’t show any selection for the state, and you have to manually add Puerto Rico as the state, in addition to it being the country.


Christmas in April

For 11 years now, we’ve seen the same cyclical pattern in sales; interest peaks around the holidays (as do sales) and is at it’s slowest in mid-summer.

But this year, due to the coronavirus, we are seeing a lot of interest in typically slower months; sales in April are about 30% higher than a typical April and almost reached that of our typical December.  And much of the increase is due to sales from our website rather than on, likely due to the increased lead times that has been quoting for delivery.

We aren’t alone in this; Etsy reported a doubling of sales last month.

So it looks like people are making good use of their time at home.


Business in the time of coronavirus update

Stock levels

Orders from our website continue to ship without issue and we are able to keep the stock at our fulfillment contractor at sufficient levels. has opened up the ability to send restock for non-essentials, but they have placed limits on restocking shipments on items they consider to sufficiently stocked, which are levels below what we prefer.

We have always tried to aim for a 3-months supply on hand with when we plan restocking shipment quantities;  we typically check stock levels once a month, it typically takes a month for items to get into stock, and that gives us an extra month buffer in case of issues (like a global pandemic).

Now it seems they really only want you to have a months inventory on hand, so they limit incoming inventory until the stock levels are below something like a 30 day supply, and they limit the amount you can send.  The bottom line is that some of our listed items may end up out of stock over the next month or two.

Shipping speed

As anyone that has been buying from over the last two month knows, the prime shipping landscape has changed dramatically.  While some items are shipping faster now than a month ago, for many items, delivery is still quoted at two weeks or more, and many items take 1-3 weeks to arrive. The upside is my children are learning to be more patient. 🙂

Shipments from our website on the other hand typically ship the next business day and are for the most part sent USPS first class mail.  In normal times, the quoted delivery time for first class mail to anywhere in the US is 1-3 days. The USPS is now quoting 3-4 days for this service, which is still not bad.

So if you order from our website, you will pay a little more for shipping, but will get it there faster.

USPS delivery

But beware that there is an increased incidence of mis-delivery by USPS postal carriers.  I’ve experienced this personally with packages and letter mail delivered to the wrong address on our street or the wrong street entirely, and we’ve had customer reports of missing packages.  I suspect this is due to some USPS personnel calling in sick for personal safety reasons, and being replaced by personnel less experienced with a particular route.


Microsoft doesn’t like us, part II

We took another stab at adjusting our email system settings to get Microsoft to play nice, but they continue to reject emails from our server to any of their email systems –,,, and probably others.

We will continue to try to figure out why they are rejecting our email server, but in the meantime, we created a Gmail customer support email to use for customers that get their email through Microsoft.


Microsoft doesn’t like us :(

Believe it or not, we run our own email server, and have been for 20 years or so.  There are benefits to running ones own email system, such as flexibility and privacy, but it comes at a price; namely keeping up with all manner of attempts at hacking the system, and, once in a while, one of the major email providers decides our email server is no longer safe.  Last month it was the AT&T system that stopped accepting emails from our server.  This time it is Microsoft.

Microsoft isn’t presently accepting emails from us from any of their email domains (,,  We’ve contacted their support for such things and while they have pointed us at a page that lists best practices for email servers that communicate with them, we are unable to find anything that seems awry, they won’t tell us specifically what the problem is, and they say “we are not a candidate for mitigation” of the problem.

We reviewed our mail logs since the beginning of the year and have sent a whopping 30 or so emails to any of the Microsoft email services, which means we definitely aren’t a source of spam email.

We’ll continue to try and figure out what the issue is.  In the meantime, please be aware that if you are contacting us from one of those domains, you may not get a reply from us, or you might not receive order confirmations from our system.

Ah the joys of being a small independent business.

Please feel free to tell Microsoft you are unhappy with them blocking email from us. 🙂


Parts shipping and inventory status

We received this notice from yesterday:

We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock. With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and deliver these products to customers.

For products other than these, we have temporarily disabled shipment creation. We are taking a similar approach with retail vendors.

This will be in effect today through April 5, 2020, and we will let you know once we resume regular operations. Shipments created before today will be received at fulfillment centers.

Currently, we have approximately three months stock for all parts for typical sales volumes for this time of year at both and our websites fulfillment contractor.  While we can’t currently send inventory to, it seems likely that sometime over the next two months that restriction will ease.

Our fulfillment contractor tells us they are operating at full capacity, accepting new inventory, and have no plans to shut down.

So, for now, we can provide all of our parts without interruption. 


Issue with our email system at the moment (RESOLVED)

We have an issue that is preventing emails to be sent from our server.  This means that contact form emails are not making it through and order confirmation emails are not going out either.

Please bear with us as we fix the issue.

Update: This is now fixed an all emails that were supposed to be sent have gone out.

Just a reminder that we are a small business and technical issues sometimes do happen.