It's been a while since we've posted an update, and we want to let you know how things are here in the shop.
We're busy with hundreds of new orders daily, and we feel we're better served in getting your fabric to you than posting selfies throughout the day.
However, just to give you an idea, here are a few orders that came in recently... (Aurifil thread for size comparison!)
Since we don't typically talk about ourselves (it really is all about YOU and not us!) some of you who are new might not really know who we are!
We posted this montage on Facebook a few weeks ago, and all of you were happy to see a rare "sneak peek" at our operations!
Yep, this is a typical day.
We have a couple of daily cages going now. One wasn't enough!
Thank goodness we have our bright pink pallet jack (a.k.a Molly Ringwald...) to help out our Canada Post drivers now!
Do you know we sell batting? Yup, that's only a few of the many, many, many, many batting orders we ship out.
Alicia has a bit more help making boxes to hold the batting now, but she's typically the one who does most of the heavy lifting (literally!).
We're now bringing in a couple of 53' trailers full of the fluffy stuff each month now!
In order to answer some of the questions you may have, and to give you some insight into how we're dealing with COVID, we're taking the time today to get you up to speed on how we're handling it here at Dinkydoo.
We're probably bigger than you think.
We never like talking about how big we are, even though we're arguably one of the biggest online quilt shops in Canada.
We're usually very humble, but sometimes we think that might actually hurt us in the long run, as people wonder if the reason we're slower to get orders out the door during COVID is that we're just plain slow, lazy, we don't hire enough people, we're not hard-working or don't have good systems in place.
That can't be further from the truth!
Our reps have consistently told us we're the #1 online shop for quilting fabric in Canada over the past few years. Just the other day we heard this from the biggest fabric distributor in Canada:
"We have never, ever seen orders of this size before in the history of our company."
Fabric reps across Canada use our store as a template to show to quilters who want to start up their own online quilt shops!
We are both humbled and honoured to hear things like this.
Several times a month we're approached by other quilters asking us how they can get started with their own online shop. We send them our rep's information, and even advise them on what software to use, and offer words of advice! (Typically: your first order will be a LOT more expensive than you can even imagine!)
Yes, we like being helpful to the competition!
We feel having more quilt shops in Canada is a good thing, and it makes us happy to see our wonderful & creative industry grow.
We often send our customers to other shops if they can't find fabric at ours. There's more than enough love to spread around without being hyper-competitive. And our goal is to connect you with the fabric you love. Why hide that information?
Now, for the elephant in the room...
Talking about business size is always a sensitive subject, because we know we might not even be your favourite online quilt shop, but that's OK!
We realize most shops want to appear bigger than they are, but we feel that's just natural as part of the growth cycle. Everyone is working hard, and everyone wants to be the best.
However, please be aware that we're probably a lot bigger than you might think, and with a fast-growing shop of our size, COVID has impacted us in many ways that might not have affected much smaller shops.
"Oh hi, I'm COVID. How you doing?"
The impact of COVID started escalating right at the start of what was our biggest and most successful EPIC Fabric Sale
It was like taking two of our most successful Black Friday sales and stacking them on top of each other.
Many of you who are new may not know what an EPIC Sale is, but it's one of the biggest quilt fabric sales in Canada, and loved by many.
We were not prepared.
Not only were we hit with a double-whammy of our most successful EPIC Sale to date, but also the entire world immediately reached out and said...
"We need fabric for masks. Now."
So, we rolled up our sleeves, we put our nose to the grindstone, and said: "Let's hustle, Team Dinkydoo!"
We've had a 270% increase in online orders since March. And it's not slowing down.
Even Amazon wasn't prepared for this. Amazon went on a hiring spree and sunk all the profits they made last quarter into preparing and dealing with COVID.
We did the same, but we were cautious at first.
How do we hire people we can trust are social distancing? How do we keep our employees and customers safe? What if we hire someone who gets sick and our whole operation has to shut down?
We reached out to our local community, many of which were already loyal Dinkydoo customers, and found some real superstars!
We were able to hire 5 new amazing employees, growing our Dinkydoo family to 17 hard-working individuals!
These new hires are very adamant about practicing social distancing outside of business hours, as most of them either live with older family members or live with immune-compromised people.
We couldn't have asked for better people to join our little family!
However, it still takes time for everyone to get up to speed and learn how we do things, so we're thankful for your patience while we train them.
"You're too slow. Shop XYZ had my order out in 5 days."
"You're too slow. I ordered from Shop XYZ and had it in 5 days. I don't think you are very good at business. You should get better. You should learn from other shops."
Comments like these hurt us right to the core.
You can't believe the countless hours we are putting in at this time to serve fabric to everyone the best we can - right at the most critical time when the world is reaching out for all the fabric.
We've hired more staff. We're working on hiring more. We've changed our whole shop around to accommodate the massive increase in online orders.
We're also working overtime most days and nights. Chris and Alicia are working 16-18 hour days, while also schooling their children at home during the day.
Yes, we are behind, but it's getting better. We will get through this.
We fully admit that we absolutely cannot compete with smaller shops that have a small turnaround time.
We know because we used to be them.
Five years ago, Alicia & Chris' warehouse was out of their walk-in closet.
It was full of Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, and a few notions. When an order came in, Chris would ring the bell and proclaim "We have an order!!"
He would then literally run to Alicia, order in hand, grab the pre-cuts, run downstairs, and ship the package out within 15 minutes!
At the end of the day, they would take the day's orders, hop in the van, and trek across town to Canada Post.
They'd wait in line, chat with the lovely ladies at the counter, and smile - knowing they absolutely loved serving this amazing quilting community!
Fast forward a few more years.
They expanded into their garage, which they had a contractor turn into an actual shop. A few of you may remember these days!
It didn't last long, as they soon outgrew the closet and garage, and they were ecstatic to lease their first 1,200 square foot shop in Pitt Meadows. It was a dream come true!
We all had no idea we'd grow so quickly, so within a year at that place, we were already looking for a bigger space...
We moved into a big 10,000 square-foot warehouse in Pitt Meadows, which most of you are familiar with if you're local to the area!
However, as we've grown, that 15-minutes for shipping orders became 1 hour. Then 1 day. Then 2-3 business days.
Right now we're currently at up to 20 business days with COVID. However, we're making progress daily to bring that number down, and we can confidently say that we're laser-focused on this goal, as we want to get you what you need as quickly (and accurately!) as we can.
Yes, your order will be a bit slower to get out during this huge transition, but rest assured, it will get better - and you will get your orders!
"Don't make me come down there and bang on your door."
That's one of the first threats we've received in our shop, from the husband of a disgruntled customer who found the delay unacceptable.
We fully understand we can't make 100% of our customers happy no matter how hard we try, but this one was a new milestone for us.
We understand everyone wants their fabric quickly. We also understand that due to local quilt shops closing, a flood of new people are shopping online for the very first time.
It's very hard to reassure people who are new to online shopping in general that yes, it's usually much faster than this!
We've heard countless other stories from other quilt shops, whose owners are in tears after being berated by angry customers during COVID.
While customers like this are definitely a very small minority, the impact is still felt strongly, and it severely affects our employees.
We understand that everyone is under quite a bit of stress and pressure due to the unknown right now, but we absolutely must reiterate:
We will absolutely not tolerate any threats or aggressive behaviour toward our employees.
It feels weird to even have to write this, but for the mental well-being of our staff, we feel we need to make this clear.
We know most of you are amazing, awesome, and completely cool individuals. And for those of you who respond to us with kindness, we are so happy with your positive words, our heart grows 10x the size. It really does get us through each day like you wouldn't believe.
We've shed tears at some of your emails, most are good tears and for good people. We can't thank you enough.
We appreciate your support!
As our sales have increased, we've also brought in an incredible amount of new fabric for you.
We literally have several thousand new fabrics on the way for you in the next few months.
We have so much more exciting stuff on the way, but our main focus is making sure we can work through this explosive growth, get our new hires up to speed, and hire even more for the months to come.
Just like Amazon, absolutely everything we're doing is going right back into making our shop the best we can for you, as well as expanding our selection to include so much more.
We can't say it enough - we are so appreciative of each and every one of you so much, and we want to make you the happiest we can.
Nothing makes us happier than knowing all the fabric, notions, and batting you're buying from us is supporting our amazing industry, and you're turning it into the most beautiful creations.
We're so happy with all the friends we've made over the years, and we are very sad we don't get to see all of you in our shop or attending our classes anymore. :(
We are very optimistic about the future and what it holds, despite all the negativity in the world right now. We'll pull through all of this, and we'll all be better because of it. Things may change forever, but nothing will stop the deep connection we have with everyone in the quilting community, and we know there will be many smiles and memories to come. :)
Thank you again, from the deepest, most sincere parts of our hearts. You mean everything to us, and we are proud to be your go-to shop in Canada.
From all of us at Team Dinkydoo, THANK YOU! :)
P.S. Here are a few of us hard at work, so you can see some of the friendly faces who make all of this possible for you. :) (Not all of them wanted their pictures taken, or we didn't have enough time to get them. Next time!)
Thank you from Team Dinkydoo <3