It's been five plus years since we started Classic Replacements. Five tumultuous years. Since then we've moved from being a home-based operation with fifty or so patterns to our new, spacious warehouse and office complex. We've added staff, thousands of patterns, tens of thousands of pieces and thousands of happy customers and new friends (as well as a few unhappy customers too, but they are very few and far between :)).
People often ask us what we've learned since our beginning and we've learned a lot. The challenges of this industry tend to be different from the standard ones, although no doubt every industry make the same claim. For example if we have customers for Lenox Charleston or Lenox Moonspun China (of which we have many), we can't just order more from their manufacturer, since they're discontinued. In other words, we've identified a popular product, we have customers, for it, but we can't get any more! Which other industry has THAT problem! Which btw, is the reason you should never pass up the opportunity to add to your set when you come across available pieces. There really is no telling when more will show up.
There is also the fragility of these items. Take your eye off William Yeoward Crystal or Varga Crystal for a moment and they can shatter into a thousand (expensive) pieces. (Trust me I know, I once broke a $1,200 Royal Crown Derby Old Imari Tureen AFTER I had already lined up a buyer for it. Ouch!)
Another challenge is how to pay for shipping without upsetting our valued customers. Let's face it, people hate to pay for shipping. They'll pay $800 for an item but the $14.99 shipping charge irks them. I understand, I'm like that too. I want to pay the price shown without all types of charges and fees added on later. But china is heavy and fragile and needs to be packed and shipped with expertise and professionalism. Which costs money (what else is new).
Then there is education. Everyone is familiar with Lenox, Wedgwood or Waterford. All we need to do is put it up and watch it move. Other brands such as Jammet Seignolles or Porteuix are not so simple. These are high-class brands, often of better quality and design then the famous brands, but since they're smaller and less known the burden of educating customers as to their desirability and value falls on us. But once they pay attention, they're hooked. Seignolles for example offers such a wide variety of colors and patterns that they are really one of the premier Limoges brand on the market today. So it's worth the effort but by no means easy.
Now enough with the challenges. Tune in on Wed. for some of the joys (and there are many) of helping people replace their china and crystal.