Diary of a Demented Store Owner

Friday, 30 November 2007

Monthly Sale For December Posted

The end of the month is the time when we get to put some stuff on sale but more importantly it's also another opportunity to post an embarrassing picture of Zenia. Ah, but she's away and I promised to be good (a little bit)... at least for this month. Stay tuned for more Zenia next month. Go here to check out our sale for December.

On another note, apparently we have a Canadian stained glass supplier that didn't know Christmas was coming up after being in business for over three decades. If you're looking for clear oval jewels for angel heads, or hobby U-came, or Finishing Wax, or SPI100RW, or small and large cement, or 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" diamond bevels and small star bevels for making snowflakes, or small red jewels for holly, or 3" x 5" oval bevels, or 12" and 18" L-squares (I'll stop here) forget about getting it locally. I guess if cross-border shopping is supposed to be uneconomical, it's still necessary if you want to get stuff you need that you can't get locally.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Taurus 3 Saw- The Continuation of the Start

Tired of seeing stuff on sale in the States at price a Canadian retailer can only dream of? Especially now with the Canadian dollar better than (or at least at) par with the American dollar when it shouldn't be. I know- the old story, a favourite- 'we bought all this inventory when the dollar was low'- it hasn't been low for months, one wonders how they stay in business with such a slow stock turnover rate. Wait, that can't be true- they're bragging about how business is booming, after all, that's the reason why they're out of inventory all the time. But wait, if they're out of inventory they're now going to buy with a high Canadian dollar. But wait...

I see Toyo Pistol Cutters for $25, Edco 7/32" foil on sale at $3.88, Morton Portable Glass Shop at $67.99, all retail prices and all at less than our wholesale cost here in Canada (something that our Canadian supplier doesn't want you to know). Oh yeah- how about this one- a GST Polar Bear cluster- a Canadian originated product distributed and owned by a Canadian, selling for $33.11- again, remember, less than what I pay at our Canadian wholesaler! These prices by the way are from legitimate retailers (not ebay, etc).

We're seeing the slow but consistent erosion of our customer base to cross border shopping. Saturdays are now like Tuesdays with people no longer coming to us from any distance. We don't do as much mail order like we used to. Heck, things used to be so busy we were even thinking of opening a store in Calgary because of all the orders we got. Not any more. And big ticket item sales like grinders and irons and kilns? Not happening. While going to the States does not always offer an economic advantage when you consider time and effort to do so, it nevertheless is occurring, rightly or wrongly, at an ever increasing rate.

And hey, what about shopping on-line? I found those better than Canadian prices in about eight seconds of surfing... sitting in my underwear (I know, I didn't need to go there). Losing sales to the web shopper is something our supplier doesn't want to acknowledge. Buying on-line means no drive or wait at the border, no border inspection. No gas to buy. No time lost. And usually no duty...

Now, I know that we've been quite vocal about the sad state of affairs in the Canadian market- you know the drill- a monopolistic environment, an ever increasing and continuing supply problem, prices that don't reflect the realities of the current economics, yadda yadda. And yes, I'm likely going to pi#$% off the wholesaler again and he's likely to call me again about my rant. But, hey, it's the small independent Canadian retailer that is the one most being affected here- not him. And the long term situation seems less rosy- smaller retailers are going out of business and the larger retailers are turning to the American wholesale supply chain, possibly never to return or at least not to the extent of the old days. Heck, if not for the better pricing, at least to secure inventory- it's becoming increasingly frustrating to have to make excuses because we don't have bevels in stock in October when everyone needs them, or how the kitchen cabinet guys were told to consider artglass and then we can't get the textures they want.

So, we will continue to do our best to secure inventory that we can't get here and to get better pricing that allows us to remain competitive and encourage you to come back to us. We will buy elsewhere, and in ever increasing quantities, to allow us to offer goods and prices comparable to the U.S.

A good example is the current sale we have on the Diamond Lase XL Bandsaw (2 blades included)- we put them on sale at $208.88 and sold out almost immediately (I think I feel a rant coming on, only this time from our American competitors talking about us!). So we brought in a couple of skidloads of saws immediately, and with the strong Canadian dollar, was able to lower our sale price even further- down to $188.88 (by the way, only seven left).

And that long rant now brings us to our Taurus 3 headline. We've bought a quantity of Taurus 3 ringsaws, and are able to put them on sale at $388.88 (cash/debit, while supplies last)!

And yes, that is at a price that is less than our current Canadian supplier's wholesale (and on sale!) price to us (oh, boy- here comes another phonecall...).

Any of our fellow Canadian competitors care to comment and/or relate their own experiences, please post a comment (anonymously of course, which you can do here)

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Free Stuff

We have a series of binders with well over 200 free patterns for you to choose from- including suncatchers, lamps and Christmas themed stuff. And now we've added another binder of free projects and patterns devoted to fusing and slumping for your amusement (frustration?). Yours for the taking.

Don't have a kiln? Then come in and use ours (only $5/firing!), or rent one and take it home ($5/day!).

Mikey Needs To Quell His Urge To Rant and Decides To Educate Instead- Glass, Liquid or Solid? The Definative Mikey Answer Here

So, what is it this mysterious substance we call glass? Is it a solid? Is it a liquid? Do four out of five dentists recommend it? (Which makes you wonder who visits that one out of five dentist, and what does he recommend?...Ed) Let's join hands and explore the subject together. Okay, let's assume it's a liquid for a minute. It has to be, right? We've all heard the stories about pulling glass out of old windows and how the pieces were all thicker at the bottom proving that the glass was slowly flowing downward. Heck, the way the glass was flowing pretty soon all our churches will have their sanctuaries full of puddles of flowing stained glass windows. You'll have to step over the Good Shepherd and his sheep to get to your pew! With all those uncovered windows with all their cancer causing light streaming through them congregations will be forced to take communion wearing Vuarnet sunglasses and wearing sunscreen. Actually it's a sham. Old glass is typically mouth blown and therefore varies sometimes quite significantly in thickness, disproving the notion that glass might be a liquid.

Well if it's not a liquid then it stands to reason that it's a solid, right? Webster's Dictionary defines a solid as "a substance of definite shape and volume; not liquid or gas." There you go, problem solved. But, hey, wait a minute. Isn't something a solid only when its molecules are motionless and lined up in flawless geometric fashion, like your grandma's furniture doilies. We call this "crystalline" (the solid, not grandma's doilies, unless she seldom washed them). A liquid on the other hand is quite the opposite. Its molecules are constantly in motion and entirely random in structure. Well, what do we do now? It seems then that according to the scientist, glass is neither a solid or liquid because its molecules are motionless (like a solid) but random in configuration (like a liquid)- so we'll call it a liquid? Actually a better word is vitreous.

If you look around there's lots of stuff that's sometimes a liquid and sometimes a solid. Take that stuff wrapped in foil at the back of your fridge for example. Or water. Or iron. At any given moment, their state depends on their temperature. Water's molecular structure is random until the temperature moves down to zero Celsius (how come they don't use centigrade?) when its molecules start to crystallize- namely, line up in perfect lattice-like order and stop moving. Below zero and bingo, now it's a solid. And the amazing thing is that zero degrees is like a light switch. Above it's a liquid, below, it's a solid. But vitreous substances (like glass in case you've been sleeping until this very moment) do not have a freezing or melting point. As temperature decreases the free flowing molecules in molten glass simply slow down to the point where they just won't move anymore. But they stay random with no crystallization occurring. Got it? So, glass then is neither a liquid nor a solid, but it's sleazy and exhibits definite characteristics of both. You might say we now have Four States of Matter instead of three- liquid, solid, gas and glass.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Another Fallacy Dispelled By Mikey and FIG

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not true that if you melt dry ice, you can clean the flux or patina off your copper foil project without it getting wet.
But it is true that we've lowered our Taurus 3 Ringsaw price down to $499.99!

Friday, 16 November 2007

A Blatent Plug For a Nice Guy

I know that this is supposed to be a blog on the rantings of demented stained glass store owner but ownership has its priviledges and yes, that includes veering off into the ditch once in awhile. Another of Mikey's passions besides stained glass is watches (read his story of his long-time Accutron 214 Spaceview watch recently fixed and see if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye- read it here!). Another passion is good honest service. Put the two together and you get Trebor Vintage Watches in Kirkland, Quebec. Looking for a nice, clean reasonably priced vintage watch, then give Robert a look at his website. Tell him we sent you.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Same Shipment, Same New Lower Price

Our truck shipment today also included the popular and perpetually sold out Easy Cut Lens (small circle) Cutter. Old regular price- $67.99, new adjusted because of the dollar price- $59.99, on sale until the end of the month for $48.88! That is all.

Dollar Continues to Go Up- Prices Continue to Come Down!

Just in this morning- a couple of skids of Diamond Laser Speedster bandsaws and some other tools, from the States, paid with a strong Canadian dollar which means more price reductions at Fantasy In Glass, Canada's first and still only officially sanctioned stained glass supplier.
So now we're kind of embarassed- we have these on sale this month for $208.88, but now we can put them on sale for even less than that. What to do? Oh, the horror! Make new friends with a lower price, and annoy those who already bought a saw on sale? Or keep the price as it is? Not likely...
Here's the deal-
New sale price on a Diamond Laser bandsaw (with two blades, automatic water feed, three year warranty and self-adjusting) is $188.88! And... if you already bought a saw at the old sale price bring your bill in and we'll give you a Beattie Ultimate Strip Guide (list-$23.00/fig price- $19.99) for free to make up the difference.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Another Spectrum Spirit Dichroic

Bullseye Mardi Gras with Rainbow Pattern Dichroic

Zenia Thinking About 'The Big Picture' While Holding a Sheet of Rippled Dichroic

Spectrum's New Spirits Dichroicized!

And Some Spectrum Reptilian on Smooth Black!

Pixie Stix Also in 90 and 96 coe

Corkscrew Dichroic- in 90 and 96 coe

Dichroic Glass At Hard-to-Beat Pricing, Finally!

Wow, we’ve finally got our dichroic glass order unloaded, catalogued, bagged and labeled (we hope Mikey means the glass, not the staff), and now our leader sits in the Ivory Tower, sweating over his abacus (and fingers and toes), trying to figure out pricing on this stuff. Do not belittle this man and the monumental task he now faces in these difficult times. The stained glass market is very complex these days- something we’ve been documenting (boring you with (?)) on this blog for many months now. On one hand we need to be mindful of American suppliers who look ever increasingly attractive to cross-border shopping from Canadians, so we have to be ever smarter (not an easy thing for Mikey sometimes) with our purchasing and pricing, and on the other hand we have to be able to price product to still make a living. This means more frequent and larger purchases from American suppliers, sadly bypassing our Canadian supplier. Not something we are happy doing, but necessary as we are still paying for goods in Canada as if the dollar was still $.87 U.S. and not $1.06 U.S.

We’ve received 700 ¼ sheets of dichroic glass with all the latest styles (i.e. Corkscrew, Splatter, Pixie Stix and even Spectrum Smooths and Spirits as a base glass). All dichroics are now available in both coefficients so we now have an unrivalled 96 coe selection for all the Spectrum fusers (‘crayon artists’), so we’re confident our selection is the best available anywhere. And with the pricing we’ve come up with, I think we can hold our own with the Americans on this stuff. This batch was bought with a much stronger Canadian dollar and we have passed the savings on to you. Mikey actually took some time away from his ‘recreational’ web surfing time to see what dichro sells for in the States, and thinks we’ve got the selection as well as the pricing to be competitive. We’ve got ¼ sheets starting at $48.99, 4” x 4's” at under $16.00 an 2" x 4's" at less than $10.00! If you were to buy dichroic glass from the U.S., ¼ sheets range from $44.99 - $69.99 and then you'll have to add in shipping and brokerage (or time and gas if you go pick it up yourself hoping not to get caught at the border).

Look at Fantasy In Glass as your friend and stress reliever- no more harrowing trips (oh, the horror) hurling down the Q.E.W. wearing and tearing at your car, burning hydrocarbons (oh, the shame) hiding your stash from ever-vigilant border guards, all for what? Not for goods less expensive, anymore.

We also have special pricing for our business customers, so if you’re considering a purchase cross-border, give Mikey a call.

So what the heck is dichroic glass? Only the hottest thing in fusible glass today! The colours are unbelievable and change with every movement of the finished piece. The metallic oxide coatings that are vacuum deposited on the glass substrate (the base glass can be either clear or black, smooth or textured) create an optical filter that reflects and transmits wavelengths of light. The composition of this thin coating reflects and transmits light differently to produce the range of colors available to the glass artist. If a piece of transparent coated glass is held up to the light, one colour will be visible; when viewed at an angle, another (opposite) colour will appear. That’s why this two-colored effect is known as dichroic.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Yippee! Canadian Dollar Hits $1.07

... and Fantasy In Glass passes the savings on to you! Just got in an order of 32 kilns- and have dropped the price an average of 22%.
Our JK15/6 is our most popular kiln and comes complete with a shelf, posts, kilnwash, Bartlet computer controller, fashionable stand and two year warranty. It's inside dimensions are 15" wide x 6" deep, runs on regular household current and has side as well as top firing coils. This one competes and beats all comparable kilns on the market including The Hot Shot from Evenheat in price, performance and accessories! Comes in your choice of 13amp or 17amp versions (don’t worry- I didn’t know what that meant either until someone spent 32 seconds explaining it to me). The 17amp version can reach full fusing temperature in one hour- unheard of for a 120 volt kiln! Our old price was $959.00, but now it's yours for only $789.99!
Our next best seller is the JK11/6- all the same features as the 15/6 but with an 11" diameter. Old price- $859.99- new price $689.99- a 20% price drop!
Don't wait too long- half our order is already sold out. Go here for more info.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Jen-Ken Kilns Arrive! And Mike Goes Off on Another Rant

It's been a particularly good week for Ben Gay and Robaxacet for muscle sores and back pain as we've been busy receiving several truckloads of goods from the States- on Wednesday, a huge delivery of kilns, followed two days later by our dichroic glass shipment.
As for the kiln delivery, aside from the best sellers, we brought in a couple of large models such as a new 24” x 24” square kiln (no stupid space inefficient round corners like most large kilns) that you’ve just got to see…oops, never mind, they all sold out in two days! Don’t worry, we’ll get more. In the meantime, we’ve got a slew of 11” and 15” models, all with computer controllers, complete with shelving included, etc.
Now, to the rant-
Yes, we are continuing on a program of sourcing out goods from outside Canada as it seems our Canadian stained glass distributor has taken advantage of the rising Canadian dollar and done little to lower pricing (as a matter of fact, stuff like Glastar product has just recently risen in price- I know, Glastar raised their prices to their distributors, but the price increase would have to have been in the order of 25% or more to see these new prices). At least someone is making a profit in this tough market today. But is this short sighted thinking good for our industry’s long-term health? I think not.
Why do we go through the hassle of bypassing the Canadian distributor and go to the States? Well, it’s the only way to stay competitive with the American market and stem the tide of cross-border shoppers. We're seeing pricing here unchanged from a year ago when goods should be at least 20% cheaper. Heck, I can buy glass cutters, grinders and other sundries at retail from a store in Buffalo cheaper than I can pay for it wholesale in Canada!
And that is the point of this rant- we fear for the long term health of the Canadian market if this is to continue much longer. Our customers are finding ever cheaper alternatives to the Canadian shopkeeper in the States and may never return, and Canadian retailers will either fail to survive or find alternative sources to our Canadian supplier, never to return to the Canadian supplier.
As a retailer on the front line, we are now seeing a serious erosion of our customer base; for example, Saturdays which is a typically busy day, is also a day when we attract people from farther distances. Now we see fewer customers coming to us from say, 50-150 miles away and assume they now prefer to make the trek to the States.
How do we know we're losing market share? Anyone can check out pricing on the web and see we're at a disadvantage, or listen in on the phone calls we get from people telling us they want a Taurus band saw for $379.95 U.S. (that's $361.00 CDN) from a retailer in the States who is making a profit at that price, when they cost us more than that (with no profit yet, and on sale at the distributor too!). Heck, we can buy them from Delphi at retail and do better than buying them here from our local distributor.
So, that’s why we do what we must do to survive. The proof is in the pudding- recent American purchases have resulted in the following savings:
Chemicals such as Fry Flux- down 20%!
Sale Squares- from an old average of $3.99-4.99, now $2.99!
Speedster Bandsaws- down 30% in the last six months!
Bullseye Fusible Glass- down an average of 12% (and the next shipment due with even greater saving)
Dichroic glass and kilns- savings anticipated in the range of 15-25%
And we will continue…

Huge Dichroic Glass Order Arrives at FIG

"Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr Epstein"- Dick Rowe, Decca Records, 1962

But dichroic glass definately not! As Canada's only official CBS dichroic distributor, we went all the way with this order- 170 full sheets- or over 700 quarter sheets! All the new patterns such as Corkscrew. Heck, we even brought in some System 96- check out the dichroic Spirits- simply amazing! Almost as cool as the Bullseye dichroic Mardis Gras also new and on this order. Pricing is yet to be established but with a Canadian dollar at $1.05 American when we paid for this order, you can bet we're gonna kick some butt on pricing to stop you from shopping across the border.
We've posted a copy of our packing slip here so you can see exactly what came in on this order- go here.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Stained Glass News #78

If you think reading this blog is a time consuming (but no doubt worthwhile) experience then pass on SGN as it also requires a commitment of time (they pay less for their jokes tho').
This issue in particular offers a very attractive snowflake pattern (free at Fantasy In Glass for the asking).