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Behind the Business* - Out of Stock

Posted on February 20, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

If you've been looking around the website lately, you might be wondering - "Why are so many products out of stock right now?"  Which is soon followed with - "When will products be available again?"  So today we are diving a little deeper into why we often have items out of stock!

I know I say it all the time, but having products out of stock is just another way that Stone Creek Trading is not your typical online retail company.  We are very careful to make sure we do not sell items that we do not currently have in our possession.  In the 5 years we have been in business and thousands of orders placed, I think there have been 3 times when we couldn't fulfill as ordered.  We know how frustrating it can be as a consumer to order a product and then have to wait for weeks because the item is actually out of stock!  So we decided when we first started this company that we wouldn't do that.

We also don't restock products like other online stores.  All of the items we sell come from small companies in Poland.  To keep our costs low, we gather all the items from many different companies together and ship them in one container.  We ship about 4 containers per year, which means we only restock the website about 4 times per year when the new container arrives. So if an item sells out shortly after a new container has arrived, it may take a few months before we can get any more.  Over the years we have gotten much better at anticipating demand and ordering more product before we sell out, but it's not an exact science!

In addition to only restocking a few times per year, we work exclusively with small businesses.  While we put in orders to our producers early, sometimes a business only has 1-2 employees and has trouble meeting our full order in time to make it on the next shipment.  We've had items arrive 1 week after the container left, which means we have to wait another 3-4 months before we will get them on the next shipment to us here in the US!  I know it's frustrating for customers when items are out of stock for that long, but trust me, it's even more frustrating for us!

We've been out of stock of some items since the beginning of January.  It's pretty typical for this to happen at this time as we recover from the holiday rush.  We purchase more and more product every year, but we still can't keep up with demand during November and December!  We always sell out, it's just a matter of how long into January and February we make it!

 

The exciting news is that we just loaded up a container in Poland!  As you can see we make sure to use every single space to get as many products as we can in a container.  This means we will be in stock longer and we can keep the cost of shipping per item down.  The shipment has left our facility in Poland and is on it's way to the port in Gdansk where it will be loaded onto the ship which will take it across the ocean to New York.  In New York, the container will have to clear customs before it can be transferred to train to make it's way to the Chicago Rail Yard.  Once in Chicago, a truck will pick up the container and bring it us here in Frankfort, IL!

With all those transfers it typically takes about 4-6 weeks to get from our facility in Poland to our facility here in the US.  Unfortunately, there are many oppurtunities for delay along the way, which is one of the reasons we can't give an exact date for when we will be restocking.  Our shipment tracking information is estimating arrival in the 3rd week of March, but there aren't any guarantees. Let's hope for smooth sailing and easy customs clearance! 

If you are anxiously waiting for a specific item, your best option is to input your email on the product page.  This will get you signed up to be notified when a product comes back in stock.  We will send you an email as soon as we have unloaded the container!  You can also keep an eye on our Facebook or Instagram, as I typically share a photo during unloading.

Hopefully if you've made it all the way to the end of this blog post you now have a better understanding of our unique stocking process!  Now go sign up to be notified when your favorite products come back in stock! 

* This blog post is part of a new series - Behind the Business.  We want to give our customers more insight into the decisions we make everyday that contribute to how our business runs.  We try to always keep the customers best interest in mind when making these decisions, and we want you to know why we at Stone Creek Trading aren't your "normal" online business.  We are proud that we don't follow the "business rules" and choose to do things a little differently!

Behind the Business* - We Don't Dropship

Posted on February 12, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

We don't like following the crowd. So when something doesn't make since to us, even if everyone else is doing it, we don't follow suit.  Often times it makes things a little bit more complicated for us, but knowing we can stand behind our business and the products we sell is more important than a quick buck!  Which is one of the reasons why we don't dropship!

We import all of the items we sell direct from Poland.  We work with my father-in-law Jacek who is based in Poland to source and purchase all of our products direct from the small companies who make them.  We gather the products at a warehouse in Poland, and then load them all together to ship them to us here in the US.  We store all the items we sell in our own warehouse and pack each order individually to ship to the customer who ordered it.

Most online businesses don't even stock the items they sell.  Instead, an online business will choose items from a catalog that they have often never seen or used, and list them on their website.  The catalog is provided by a large distribution company who imports the items and stores them at their gigantic warehouses.  When an item sells, the business will automatically transmit the order information to the distributor's warehouse, and the distributor is the one to pack and ship the order.  This is called "dropshipping", where the seller of the product doesn't ever possess the items they sell.

All of this is extremely cost efficient, and impersonal.  Have you ever tried to get detailed information about one of these products from the online business, only to get very generic answers?  It might be because they have never actually seen or used the product themselves! 

While we've had many offers to set up this kind of arrangement for Stone Creek Trading, it just doesn't make sense to us.  We founded our business on the notion that our customers deserve a connection to products they purchase.  We want you to know where your products came from and we want you to know that the products we ship meet our high quality standards.  If we never even see the products ourselves, we couldn't do that.

We know we could increase our profits if we changed to a "drop shipping" website.  But we believe that the value of a small business is something greater than money.  We hope that our customers choose to purchase from us not just because of our quality products and low prices, but because they want to support our traditional small family business!

* This blog post is part of a new series - Behind the Business.  We want to give our customers more insight into the decisions we make everyday that contribute to how our business runs.  We try to always keep the customers best interest in mind when making these decisions, and we want you to know why we at Stone Creek Trading aren't your "normal" online business.  We are proud that we don't follow the "business rules" and choose to do things a little differently!

Behind the Business* - The "Discount Code Game"

Posted on February 05, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

As most of our customers know, we are a small family business.  We have a few core values that guide our business practices.  Today, we are starting a new series that dives deeper in to those values to give you better understanding of the company you are supporting. 

To start things off, let's discuss one of the questions we get most often - Can I get a discount code?  The short answer is most likely "no".  But because that isn't the answer most customers are expecting, this blog post explains a little more behind our reasoning!

One of our core business values is fair, honest pricing.  We know first had how hard all of us have to work to make ends meet.  So we want to make sure when you choose to spend some of that hard earned money on our products, you are getting the best value we can offer.

We have always tried to keep our prices as low as possible.  We don't mark up products just so that we can offer a discount or sale every other week to make you think you are "getting a deal".  This stressful "discount code game" that many retailers play isn't our style.  We don't want you to feel pressured to buy something before you are ready just because it's "on sale".  We'd rather you take the time to research our products and know that when you do decide to purchase you will be getting the best deal. 

Now, we do occasionally offer sales or discount codes.  As much as we resist it, there are times when it just makes sense.  Our business has no investors or loans, which means we don't have to worry about anyone else telling us how to run our company.  But it also means when it comes time to buy more inventory, we occasionally need a little extra cash.  When this happens, we sometimes offer a discount to increase sales in order to purchase new products.  This isn't how most companies come up with capital to purchase inventory, but so far it's working for us!

We also observe how products are selling on the website.  When we have a large inventory of an item, we will occasionally offer a sale on those items to remind customers that they are great products!  At this point we have over 50 varieties of fermenting crocks (all made in Poland!) and it's easy for some of the items we've had around for awhile to get lost. 

Because we want you to take the time to research your purchase, we know how valuable first hand customer reviews are.  We also know that having a customer make additional purchases after their initial order is extremely valuable.  Because of this, we do offer a discount to customers who review our products through the email request that is sent approximately 2 weeks after your purchase.  It's our favorite way to say "Thank You" for supporting our small family business!

It's not easy telling customers no, especially when every other website is offering constantly changing discounts and sales to encourage impulse buying.  We could raise our prices and start running sales like everyone else.  But for as long as possible, we want to keep want to keep our company running the way we wish all of them did.  We want you to feel confident making your purchase when it works best for you - knowing that no matter when you buy you're paying a fair, honest price for high quality products!

* This blog post is part of a new series - Behind the Business.  We want to give our customers more insight into the decisions we make everyday that contribute to how our business runs.  We try to always keep the customers best interest in mind when making these decisions, and we want you to know why we at Stone Creek Trading aren't your "normal" online business.  We are proud that we don't follow the "business rules" and choose to do things a little differently!

Order Early - Holiday Shipping Deadline!

Posted on December 05, 2017 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

Order by 2pm CDT on December 14, 2017
for the best chance of delivery before Christmas!

It's the most busy time of the year!!  Even though we are seeing record numbers of orders, we've been able to keep up with shipping and are still shipping out items 1-2 business days after the order is placed.  But unfortunately, UPS seems to not be quite on top of their holiday shipping game this year!  We are seeing order shipping times already delayed by 1-2 days, and have had a few orders with multiple boxes delivered on different days. 

I personally had some shipping mixups on my online shopping orders from other companies as well, so it seems to be an issue across the board.  When I inquired about a shipping deadline for UPS Ground shipments, we received this update -

Yikes!  This is not good news for a business like ours which relies on UPS Ground Shipments.  Unfortunately, for large, heavy packages like our fermenting crocks, any other shipping option is just too expensive! 

But we want to make sure that customers can shop with confidence from our website.  Which is why we have decided to offer a Holiday Shipping Guarantee, even if UPS and USPS isn't.  So here it is -

All orders placed by 2pm CDT on December 14, 2017 will arrive before Christmas - December 25, 2017.  If your order does not arrive by 12-25-17, we will personally refund your shipping fee.  To be considered for a shipping fee refund, you must order before this cutoff date & time. We are not responsible for and will not issue shipping refunds for delays resulting from shipping addresses entered incorrectly, undeliverable orders, orders not delivered because customer is not available to receive the delivery, or any other delay caused by customer error.

This cut off date will be most important for shipping address in the western United States - especially California, Oregon and Washington.  These areas typically have the longest shipping times from our location in Frankfort, IL and will need the most time in transit. 

Please read all the details about our holiday shipping guidelines here.  If you have any questions, email me - Emily@stonecreektrading.com.  And as I said before,

ORDER EARLY!!

Happy Holidays!

-Emily & Kryz

 

Which size Cabbage Shredder is right for you?

Posted on November 19, 2017 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

With 3 sizes to choose from, it's hard to know which cabbage shredder will work best for you.  Since I know these products well (we've been selling them for almost 5 years now!), I'm happy to offer our customers my take on the advantages of each size!

Medium Cabbage Shredder

Our most popular size by sales is the Medium Cabbage Shredder.

 

This size of shredder seems to offer the best balance of features and price.  It has the cabbage holder box which makes shredding much easier and safer.  While it's not a small shredder at 2 feet long, it doesn't take up as much space as the large size.  For most customers, the Medium size will work great.  When a customer asks which size to buy, I most often recommend the Medium Cabbage Shredder.

Large Cabbage Shredder

If you make a lot of sauerkraut and have the space for it, the Large Cabbage Shredder is the way to go!

The Large Cabbage shredder is just that, large!  It's wider and longer than the Medium size shredder, which makes it harder to find a place to store.  The extra width means it has a larger cabbage holder box, which in turn means a bigger chunk of cabbage can be shredded at once.  The extra length makes the shredding process much smoother as you can build more momentum in each slide across the blades.  If you have the space for the Large Cabbage Shredder, it really does make quick work of shredding your cabbage.  

Small Cabbage Shredder

If you are tight on space, or like a finely shredded cabbage, I recommend the Small Cabbage Shredder.

The biggest disadvantage of the Small shredder is that it doesn't have a cabbage holder box.  But, it is also much more compact and therefore easier to store, especially if you live in a small house or apartment.  Another unique feature of the Small Cabbage Shredder is that the blades are set closer together, giving you a shred of about 1/16" versus the Medium and Large shredders which have about 1/8" shred. 

Hopefully this "insider" information will help you make an informed decision about which size will work best for you!  Which one will you choose?

Buy Now - Can It & Ferment It Recipe Book

Posted on September 12, 2017 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

For many years we have been searching for just the right fermenting book to offer on our website.  Last summer, Stephanie Thurrow of the Minnesota From Scratch blog reached out to us about a book she was working on combining canning & fermenting recipes.  Since I grew up canning, and Kryz grew up fermenting, this sounded like the perfect book for our family and business!  Over the year that Stephanie was writing Can It & Ferment It, I had a chance to get to know her better and now consider her a friend.  It was such an honor to send her some of our favorite fermenting supplies to use while she was trying out recipes for the book. 

We were also thrilled that she asked to include our Polish Dill Pickle recipe (which comes with every crock we sell) in the book!  And when Can It & Ferment It was finished, I got to read an advanced copy and offer my review, which is now featured on the back cover!

I was also happy to have the opportunity to attend the Can It & Ferment It book release party in Minneapolis.  It was great to see Stephanie and get to check out Gyst Fermentation Bar and sample some wonderful fermented foods!

 

Now that we have a copy of the book to use ourselves, we have been exploring many of the fermenting and canning recipes!  Our garden has been very productive this year, which has meant we need more creative ways to preserve the harvest.  I love being able to flip through Can It & Ferment It and see lots of options for how to transform our veggies into year round goodies!

I'm sure all of you will enjoy Can It & Ferment It as much as we do.  And now you can purchase it along with your fermenting supplies right here on our website!  It's the perfect way to make sure you have everything you need to get started fermenting.  Because like I said on my back-of-the-book review -

"Reading Stephanie's book is like having your own personal canning and fermenting expert right there with you."

So don't delay and add one to your order!

 

Mountain Ceramics

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

Summer is in full swing and fermenting season is here!  We started our first crocks of garden veggies last weekend in our favorite Mountain Green & Cream Crocks.  These crocks have been out of stock for 3 years while the artisan took a break from his business.  But now he is back to work and we are able to offer these popular crocks again!



While most fermenting crocks are a dark brown color, customers are always looking for other options.  Which is one of the reasons we love these green and cream colored crocks!  Plus, the small 2L & 3L sizes are great for fermenting small amounts, like what you pick each day in the garden.  We also love that we can put the entire crock in the fridge when it's done fermenting and eat right out of the crock!

We also have a garlic crock from the same artisan available in two sizes, a small brown crock for storing or serving and a gorgeous mug

Because we have been out of stock of these products for over 3 years, we decided they count as new products!  So be sure to check out all of our Mountain Ceramics.

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