Saturday, September 26, 2009

A bit of history - Summer 1999 Toycrafter Newsletter

No picture for this one - I found the copy from a 10 year old edition of the newsletter we sent to customers periodically at The Toycrafter. Possibly more interesting to me than to others, but with The Toycrafter gone, it is a nice bit of history. I find the Y2K preparations interesting! For the uninitiated, TEO stands for "Top Executive Officer".

Newsletter = Summer 1999

It's been a long time between newsletters! If you read some of the other articles - like "Welcome Pat Pettis" you may understand the gap better, but we still apologize for not keeping up our end of the communication! If this is your first issue of The Toycrafter Connection, welcome. If you have been missing us, we're sorry, but we're back - or we're still here, or something like that. We'll fill you in a bit on what's happening in The Toycrafter family, what's new since we last talked, and a bit about where we are going....

Notes from the TEO

Don's Collection - images
My favorite method of collecting tops these days is via the Internet. The world of collecting a lot of things is being changed rapidly by the various possibilities of the Internet. Collectors of a variety of things report that their favorite events where they go to find whatever it is they collect, talk with dealers, etc are changing rapidly as dealers find they can get better prices for less cost of doing business over the internet. Many dealers now put their best finds onto an internet auction site, rather than pack it up, drive it to Wherever, USA, and wait for folks to come by. For collectors, the good news is they can now find a lot of things they would never have run into even going to dozens of shows... the bad news is that all the other collectors can find these things just as easily --- prices are higher because there are more folks trying to get a particular item --- and the joy of digging through piles of neat stuff trying to find that one odd item is gone.

On balance, I think I like the new world of Internet auctions. A few minutes a day on the internet nets me lots of really cool finds, where I only got to a few antique toy shows a year. I have discovered there are a lot of other top collectors that I knew nothing about, and have made several new friends. And while basic tops are going for fairly high prices, I find a lot of really neat odd things like the Nevada Red Top Gold Mine Dividend Check on page ?.
The other thing I am gaining is a lot of knowledge as I see lots of new tops and top related things that I would never see without the Internet, so even if I don't get the item in the bidding, I do know about it, and I can usually save the picture of the item to my hard drive. Several images of my finds grace this newsletter.... check it out!

Y2K - We're prepared!

You've probably heard more than you ever wanted to about Y2K - aren't computers wonderful! Our wonderfully complex and demanding $25,000 software package that we had sort of a love/hate relationship with, was not Y2K compliant, and nothing was going to be done about it! Thus our introduction to many software packages, our chagrin that almost anything was going to cost at most 1/3rd of what we had invested in the old package, and our delight when we ran into Sharon Sandvick, who has a business devoted completely to helping small businesses work with Peachtree.... one of the oldest and most respected small business accounting packages out there! Sharon has made our transition to Peachtree much smoother than I could have ever hoped for.. I'll knock on wood here because we only started using it on June 1st, but it sure looks smooth so far. We'll be adding UPS Office Online soon to improve our shipping procedures --- no more book to fill out, and you'll soon start getting boxes from us with all those neat squiggly things on them! All of the above, plus completely new computers and network, means we are ready for anything the new millenium can throw us...... if not we have stocked up on old fashioned paper and pencils! Along with Sharon, I want to especially thank Liz (the one you talk to mostly when you call us) for doing a lot of data entry work, getting all your addresses, phone numbers, etc. into the new software with an amazingly high degree of accuracy!

Welcome Pat Pettis

Our office manager, Jim, left almost a year ago. Don took over his duties, and after many years of not having much to do with the office part of things, he has learned a lot! In addition, Liz turned out to have many hidden skills as she took over many of Jim's tasks. Bruce also took on a couple of Jim's jobs. However, after many months, Mike, our accountant suggested - tactfully of course - that ...perhaps the services of a part-time bookkeeper might be helpful .... perhaps Don wasn't quite as good at some of the tasks as might be helpful? .... what are you snickering at??? When is the last time you balanced the checkbook? Anyway - Mike had just the right person in mind. Someone highly competent, someone ready for a change, and someone who just might fit in with the odd-ball crew around here! Boy was he right! You may not run into Pat much... she works 3 days a week, and Liz is still the one who answers the phone most of the time. That's good, because Pat still isn't quite sure exactly what a flipover is, but she has the checkbook balanced! Also she and Liz have put in a lot of time getting things ready for the new software - see Y2K article.

Pat is happy because she likes working here. Liz is happy because Don is not hanging around the office quite as much! Don is happy because he doesn't have to hang around the office quite as much! Bruce and Jesse are happy because Don isn't hanging around the office quite as much! Do you see a trend here??? Pat.... we're all glad you're here!

Parts Department / Better than those sticks

"Better Than Those Sticks" We've come up with a better name for Parts Department. What do you do with a container full of wonderfully odd shaped and colorful wooden parts? How do you convince people that this jar of colorful oddly shaped wood parts is the best toy ever made by The Toycrafter? While explaining "Parts Department" to a customer one day I said - "It's better than a box of those sticks!", and I realized I had hit on a phrase that very quickly explains what "Parts Department" is all about! Most folks know what to do with a pile of popsicle sticks or tongue depressors! They know you can make houses, log cabins, stick people, etc. out of them. If we call this jar of stuff "Better Than Those Sticks", we immediately convey that you can make cool stuff out of them. Unlike a box of sticks which are all alike, "Better Than Those Sticks", is different every time. Some folks like exact directions about how to make a log cabin out of sticks, but the really adventuresome types would rather be handed "Better Than Those Sticks" and be told to just go ahead and invent stuff!

We now take credit cards for payment on all orders - Great for COD orders... saves you the COD fee..... does not count toward free shipping for pre-paid orders because of the extra cost to us.

If you got this far - thanks for checking out a bit of history - if Bruce, Liz, Pat, Jesse, Mike or Sharon happen to read this, click below and send along a Hello! For that matter, if you ever worked for The Toycrafter - and a lot of folks did over the years (at one point there were a total of 23 folks on the payroll) - call, e-mail, snail mail, etc. and say HI. I miss all of you!


Anne said...

I prepared for Y2K by buying a year's supply of Chock Full O' Nuts, because I was goddamned if I was going to let the coming world meltdown mess with my morning cup of coffee.

Anonymous said...

Don thanks for taking me back to my Toycrafter days!! It was wonderful to read that newsletter and remember all the prep work that went into getting Peachtree up and going. And seeing my name in print was fun too! I do miss our little group.

Louise's Son-in-law said...

Thanks for the note Liz -- Pat sent me a long e-mail and she and family are doing well!