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The State of the USPS (what to expect) and the coming difficult holiday season

I’d been a difficult year and a half with regards to shipping via the US Postal Service, with much slower service, some extremely long ship times around the 2020 holiday season, and the somewhat more frequent unplanned world tour for some packages.  I thought I’d take a quick gander at some of our recent shipments to see how the USPS is doing in the last couple of weeks.

First, let me say that, we ship almost all of our packages via the USPS because it is far cheaper than either UPS or Fedex.  So, despite issues, there really isn’t a better option unless you want to pay three times as much.  And even UPS and Fedex had issues last holiday season.

On average, shipments leave our fulfillment center about one business day after the order is placed.

It used to be the USPS promised first class delivery to anywhere in the US in 2-3 days. So how are they doing right now?  About double that.  The average delivery time to anywhere in the US among all packages was about 4 days.  Individual regions varied:

West Coast: 3 1/2 days (as few as 2 and as many as 6)
Midwest: 3 days (as few as 2 and as many as 4)
South: 5 days (as few as 4 and as many as 6)
East Coast: 4 1/3 days (as few as 4 and as many as 6)

We also had one package going from Nevada to the East Coast take an unexpected trip to Hawaii and another that was delivered to the USPS in Nevada and hasn’t moved in 5 days, so these anomalies are still happening with some regularity.

As we head into what is likely going to be a very chaotic holiday season, expect things to get worse.  It wasn’t unusual last December for some USPS shipments to take 3 or more weeks in the continental US.

Another factor is that the disruption may start earlier this year.  There is a lot of information starting to appear that container shipping is very messed up right now, with the average time on the water going from 41 days to over 70 days, and 100 ships off the cost of Southern California waiting to be unloaded.  Retailers are going to have a very hard time getting everything restocked for Christmas, which means many things will be unavailable and people will frantically be ordering what they can.  Furthermore, in response to this, it seems likely that a lot of shoppers are going to start doing their Christmas shopping early, which means November might see an extraordinary number of packages shipped and see extended delays as well.

Also consider that, despite the global pandemic in the last 18 months, personal income and savings are way up due to all the extraordinary measures the government has taken, and the fact that people aren’t spending a lot on transportation, vacations, and other things. This means that there is more than the usual amount of money out there for holiday spending ,which will push up purchases and therefore shipping volumes.

The USPS seems to have held about steady with first class shipments in the US with the above numbers for most of the year.  I would expect October to be about the same, and then things start to get worse in November.

What you can do

First and foremost, please be patient.  Everyone should know by now that shipping anything is taking longer.  Even the coveted Amazon 1 and 2 days shipments are often late these days, and some Amazon shipments do seem to get lost with some regularity.

Second, ask us for help.  If your package seems to be permanently stuck and not making progress getting to you, give us a shout.  We have been known to drop a second shipment to try and resolve situations like that.  You may now know this, but if you receive a package, mark REFUSED on it, and put it back in the mail, it will go back to the sender. That is what we will ask you to do to one package, if both packages we send you for a single order arrive, eventually.

Third, order in October for the holidays.  Seriously.  My kids are working on their Christmas wish lists right now, and we hope to be done in the next couple of weeks, after which we will start ordering presents.  Also get your orders for things like Harry and David or Swiss Colony (my favorite) in early and set the ship date for early December.

With a little planning, you can get ahead of the expected difficult holiday season and skip all the mess.

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Problem with replacement percolator tops

For years we had been buying our replacement glass percolator tops from TOPS, which makes a variety of generic replacement cookware parts.  A few years ago TOPS was sold to another company and we started buying the parts from them.  Our last order was received in November 2020.  As we started to get into the remainder of this order, we found that the packaging had changed.  You can see the older blue backed tops with the newer red backed tops here.

The replacement tops work by screwing an aluminum ring from the underside of the percolator lid onto the glass top. This allows them to work for a variety of percolator hole sizes. This part was made to fit holes between 1.5 and 2.5 inches.

Unfortunately, when they switched to the new manufacturing process sometime last year, the aluminum ring shrunk in size, and now comes on the red backed product at only 2 1/4 inches in diameter.  This makes it too small to fit Revere Ware percolators.

We have removed the inventory from our website for now, so it isn’t possible to order this part through us.  We’ve alerted the company that makes the parts and are trying to find a resolution.  Given that the parts no longer meet the specifications printed on the product packaging, our hope is that they fix the process to produce the correct sized ring.

Stay tuned.

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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.

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2020: It was a great year for Revere Ware!

Looking at the graph of Google searches for the term “Revere Ware” since 2004, you might think interest in the brand is dying a slow death.

But look at the bump on the far right.

Clearly, overall interest in Revere Ware has bottomed out and is now going up again.  Impressions for the ad keywords we use on Google Adwords tells an even more encouraging story.

According to the number of impressions, which tracks a wider variety of Revere Ware related searches, interest bottomed out in 2012 and has gone up significantly since then.  As another data point, here are the eBay listings graph from our revereware.org site that categorizes eBay Revere Ware auctions.

That goes back to 2009, and the number of listed items has continually gone up, with a huge bump this year.  Then there are our sales over the last year.

All I can say is wow!  Every month since April has far outperformed prior years, and December was our largest sales month since we started selling replacement parts in 2009.  The graph of total revenue per year shows the year over year bump a little clearer.

Our sales have climbed continuously since we started selling parts. The Revere Ware brand may be officially dead, but interest in Revere Ware is far from dead, and experienced quite a revival in 2020.

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Some orders are seeing a shipping delay

Due to a lost bulk shipment to our fulfillment contractor, our lid knobs went out of stuck in Late December unbeknownst to us.  We discovered it last week as we noticed that some orders from late December and forward had not been shipped.  We worked quickly last week to get more stock to our contractor’s warehouse.  The stuck orders should start shipping soon.

We apologize for the inconvenience for anyone affected by this.

Update 1/11/20 : All stuck orders have been shipped and everything is back to normal

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Merry Christmas and Happy Revere Ware

This month seems likely to be, like most of this year, a record setting one for us.  People appear to have really hunkered down and gotten in to home cooking if our sales of our Revere Ware replacement parts are any indication.

Just a reminder that if you are shopping with us for a present for a loved one, and hope to have it under the tree by Christmas, place your order ASAP, as Christmas is getting close and the USPS isn’t getting any faster.

Happy Holidays!

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What we’ll put up with for our Revere Ware

A customer’s Mom loved her Revere Ware and for years put up with a broken handle by using a rubber band to hold it together.

Then she found us and replaced the handle.

She writes:

The part you sent fit PERFECTLY and took me less than 5 min to install. The rubber band was to make fun of my mom who had it like that for 10 years  😉 Thx so much! 🙏🏽

We love a happy ending. 🙂

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USPS is still having issues

It has been an interesting few months for, well, everything, including USPS mailings.  Here is some of the oddities I’ve seen in the last month:

  • Packages having random delivery time delays
  • Packages that are marked as undeliverable and sent back to us despite having the correct address
  • Letters that take a month or more to arrive just within California
  • An international package that sat for over two months in the Port of LA waiting for international transport
  • Deliveries to the correct address on the wrong street or the wrong address on the correct street

Just a reminder to be patient as shipments from us may not arrive in a timely fashion due to these issues, or may not arrive at all.  Check the tracking which you’ll get with our shipping confirmation email to see what is going on.  If it says delivered, check with your neighbors to see if they received it by accident.

Just understand that we aren’t the USPS and probably have less of a chance of finding a mis-delivered package than you do by talking to your neighbors, mail carrier, or local Post Office.  Please exhaust your local options before expecting us to re-ship your order.

If your order is ultimately not delivered, don’t worry, we’ll do everything we can to make it right.

 

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Insight into the cyclical nature of our business

For years, we’ve seen a sales cycle that peaks around the holidays, and troughs in mid-summer.  Everything associated with our business follows this same cycle, so we are pretty sure it represents the level of interest people have in finding replacement parts for their cookware, and not something else.

And then there is this year, the blue line above.  May was our best month we’ve ever had in 11 years, by a significant margin.

My best guess has been that the holidays bore an increase of sentimentality, which caused people to want to refurbish their Revere Ware, or perhaps do it as a gift for a loved one.  I’d also assumed that the increase in sales we are seeing in the last few months is because people have more time on their hands, and are doing things they have long put off.

In casual conversation with my mother yesterday, a very astute woman and practicing certified public accountant, I mentioned the cyclicality of our sales to her.  She immediately came up with the idea that the current sales increase is driven by the fact that people are cooking more now.

That sure make a lot of sense.  People do cook some pretty prominent meals during the holiday months, and people are preparing their own food more now, as we well know.

I tried to find studies about cooking at home (or restaurant sales) versus time of the year, but was unable to find any data to back up the new theory. Still, I like it better than my last theory. 🙂

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