Tap Dancing for Retail

Everybody wants to land that big product line with multiple SKUs, but it becomes increasingly difficult as the decision making process for licensees grows to be ever more complex and drawn out. We find ourselves in discussions with our licensees about things like NOS, MOQ, QPB, EDD, and so on long before the decision has been made to go ahead with a product line – but then that’s the way of the world nowadays.
I know…say what?
This is part of the new language that retail-based decision making is forcing art licensors to learn, or at the very least to understand. Manufacturers are leaning toward piecing together collections slowly rather than making a big splash with large SKU count introductions. They will start with one or two categories – maybe a dozen ornaments and/or a handful of plaques – and will wait to see how that goes before expanding the line to include more products. Caution is the word of the day, and retailers are not buying into multiple categories until they know a property has traction in the market, so we are left with a kind of Catch-22 situation where nobody wants to be left holding the bag, or in this case the pallet of excess stock.
A short primer of a few terms that can make or break your deal:
SKU – stock keeping unit
MOQ – minimum order quantity
QPB – quantity price breaks
NOS – number of stores
UC / UP – unit cost / unit price
EDD – expected delivery date
QA / QC – quality assurance / quality control
FOB – free on board or freight on board (shipping)
JIT – just in time (delivery)
PDS – product delivery schedule (sometimes product design spec)
Why do you care? Let’s say your licensee misses the first JIT date, so NOS reduces 50%. Now they haven’t sold their MOQ, they lose some QPB and the UC goes through the roof – but they can’t raise the UP and the retailer is holding them to the EDD on the PDS. QC goes out the window and now 10% of them are NFG (you figure that one out…) so the retailer clearances them out immediately and then – OMG happened to your brand? 

Waited too long – the followup

Saturday 11 AM – the wet snow brings down the pines across the power lines.
Saturday 8 PM – we finally get the generator set up to operate and can run a cord for lights, frig and radio, but no heat. It’s cold.
Sunday 11AM – got the fancy twist lock plug we needed, the genny is now hard wired into the electric panel and the boiler is running – heat, lights and TV, just like downtown!
Monday 3 PM – the generator blows out. Runs like a top but no longer produces power, a quick disassembly shows nothing obvious, so no more heat, frig, lights or TV… thinking about moving downtown.
Monday 3:30 PM – broken toe results from repeatedly kicking generator. (just kidding). Joking about “how much we enjoy the changing seasons” is no longer funny.

 Monday 8 PM – after the third stop, finally located some lamp oil without citronella – apparently an endangered product and now worth more per ounce than gold.
Tuesday 5:05 AM – power is restored just before the temp in the house dips into the 40’s, and two hours later we can finally emerge from under a six inch thick stack of blankets.
Friday AM – will likely get a speeding ticket flying down I94 to Florida….

Waited too long…

We woke up this morning to a winter wonderland – it really was pretty.

Dogs don’t wait for weather, however,

 so we slogged up the drive through the several inches of wet, heavy snow and marveled at how quiet and beautiful it was.

Then we began to hear the crackling of branches in the woods all around us as that very pretty morning snow started taking them down – wet heavy precipitation is not a friend of towering pines…

Of course not one but TWO came down across the power lines, one is a bit burned and we are currently living off the grid – but not by choice….us and 50,000 other people in the Twin Cities area…

The fire pit out back – won’t be sitting around that anytime soon….

Is this not the saddest FL license plate you have ever seen?

Today – we’ll settle for electricity.
Next week – we’re runnin’ to the sunshine!


We’re very sad here today as we just lost a dear friend to breast cancer. Alyn Shannon was one of the bright lights, the incredibly talented creative force behind Paper Prince, ColorOriginals, XOXO and all of the card and paper lines that were part of Diversified Graphics. Alyn was so much more than a client – she and her husband Jeff were our neighbors, our walking, dinner and cruising partners, and a shining example of what living a selfless life really means.

Alyn was a woman of deep faith, and after selling their business they took on the cause of Haiti, traveling to the country many times, and forming the charities Buya.org and Healing Haiti to bring some real help to the impoverished people of that country. They are directly responsible for pushing forward projects to provide some of the most basic needs – clean water, meals, decent living conditions and education for these long suffering people. Even in the last months of her life she walked the walk, traveling to Haiti when she was well enough to do so, and working side by side with the people there to distribute water, food, pencils and paper or whatever they could manage to bring in with them.

I think we can best honor her time with us by helping with that which she held so dear – please visit their website at www.HealingHaiti.org, learn about their mission and help if you can. It’s the least we can do to remember someone who did so much.