The Holidays and Year-End
Just a quick hello from over here, your favourite shop cat caretakers, as we round out the year. We hope you had a holly jolly holiday, and or if it was terrible for whatever reason, we hope the year ahead brings you some lovely surprises.
For us and our family and our shop this year it seemed like we dropped a lot of balls as we unraveled ourselves into December, or maybe we never had them in hand in the first place. I’m alone in the house with the two cats for the first time in ages, it feels like, and I’m staring at the remnants of the holidays, products that still need photos, stale baked goods, personal and shop invoices all mixed together, snow boots lying everywhere. We did end up getting a Christmas tree two days before Christmas, which was good enough for the kids, and we just sort of threw random things at it, to see what would stick (not much).
Like they’ve done all year, pandemic or no, the team has been holding it all together, and we are so grateful for them and all that they do. We said goodbye to a few familiar faces this past year, which is always tough, but it’s also been exciting to get to know and welcome new team members into our midst. They do everything from keeping your orders moving, managing special requests from customers, tidying up and cleaning the shop front and warehouse, troubleshooting leaks from ceilings, weird noises and missing packages, and making sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes and behind the pen counter.
L-R: Sarah, Elaine and Sean
L-R: Sabine and Mai
Brendan. This photo is from some Instagram story that got saved onto my phone, but the context-less caption epitomizes Brendan. Here to keep things running, and to make sure no screws come loose. “What’s going on, Liz? Why are you taking stock out of that box and putting it directly into your bag?”
We are catching up now, here I am petitioning again to repurpose our now empty furnace room as a kitty litter room (closed door, vent hole at cat level, concrete floor), and Jon is once again rubbing his temples. It’s a sensitive subject all around, given that we replaced the furnace with these heat pumps that don’t pump enough heat into this house.
The year behind us has been a long and exhausting journey, time warping and wending its way through a seemingly very long season of making do. I sometimes try to do a year-end round-up of all the exciting stationery things that happened here in our shop, but the year has run out on me. We got a second shop cat, which perhaps is the only important shop news to come out of 2021.
There are some unpleasant things ahead, still the question of whether or not schools here in Toronto will close, manufacturers sending out their yearly price increases for January, a possible increase in our shipping costs from the shop. It has been $8 flat rate for orders under $125 for as long as we’ve been open, and we’ve staved off increases in shipping costs with discounts for higher volume, but it has become more and more costly to ship within even Toronto, much less to rural Ontario or across the country. We subsidize all the actual postage costs, in addition to the cost of packing materials and the time it takes to pack it up nice and tidy. No firm news on that front, everyone procrastinating on what will undoubtedly be an unpopular announcement, just something looming.
That all being said, in this quiet lull between Christmas and New Year’s, where we make sense of all the papers cluttering the house, sort through shoes that are too small or missing laces, check the numbers on inventory in the warehouse, take our time to reorganize shelves and closets, we are also enjoying the time to ponder what could be and what is ahead this January and the new year before us. There are new things coming, and I’m particularly excited for a few of those things in particular, as always. New stationery, new releases, new brands. Leather notebook covers wearing in and warming up, treats ordered from various places across Canada and around the world. I think there might be a Superior Labor shipment expected soon, but I’m going to let that one surprise me, whenever it might come in, however many weeks or months past the original expected ship date.
While the latest variant seems to be daunting these days, Caleb got his first shot and Naomi is poised for her second. Babies and cats and stationery and I am floating along trying to hold onto the golden moments we have, scrawling notes in the margin as I go.
We are wishing for you all the best of the tail end of this holiday season, and a year ahead filled with hot tea, sunny weather, furry tails, good chocolate, and the people around you who make things alright again.