We launched www.paladinshaving.com and began offering brushes for sale exclusively from our online shop on March 22, 2016. At that time, there were 440 names and email addresses on the customer list we started building (based solely on requests) shortly after first introducing Dark Holler Design Works and Paladin® shaving brushes on Badger & Blade in September 2014. We haven’t used or updated that list since sending out notice of our website’s launch on the day it went live.
Opening our online shop followed an 8 ½ month period (beginning in early July 2015) during which we didn’t accept any new orders for Paladin shaving brushes. We were highly sensitive to the pent-up demand that accumulated over that period, and we acknowledged in an update circulated a few days in advance of resuming sales that, at least for a while, customers trying to buy one of our brushes might experience more frustration than satisfaction. We did not, however, anticipate that brushes would continue to sell out within an hour or two of their release for over a year.
To be completely honest, although it has never been our purpose or vision for the Paladin shop to subject patrons to Black Friday-type sales, the fact is it was exciting for us to see our brushes fly off the shelves. And we were a little deflated the first time a few brushes remained in the shop on the morning after a release (that occurred this past May). Just the same, having some selection of brushes in the store at most times, allowing customers to evaluate them and make selections at their leisure, has always been our objective. Now it appears we’re finally making progress in that direction.
Since opening the Paladin shop, we’ve sold brushes to about 365 different customers. Over half of them have purchased just one brush, and only about one out of ten has bought more than four. We greatly value our returning customers, without whose support we wouldn’t be here. At the same time, we need to work effectively toward expanding our base in order to succeed as a business. This isn’t a hobby for us.
We’ve observed with interest that a high percentage of brush sales occurring one or more days after each of the past few releases have been by first-time customers. And there have been a lot more visitors in the shop between recent releases. That’s not altogether surprising. We adopted the process we’ve followed since mid-last year because we thought it was optimal in the circumstances, though by no means without compromises. I’m sure it would have been more frustrating to most of our customers had we placed small numbers of brushes in the shop randomly and without notice, making it catch-as-catch-can and placing at significant disadvantage those (that is most of us) who don’t have time or inclination to check unpredictably variable stock in an online shop countless times every day of the week. But scheduled releases don’t suit the preferences of many others, who might rather drop in to see what’s available at times of their own choosing and have opportunities to purchase a brush without feeling like they’re engaged in a frantic competition.
So, we think it’s time to experiment a little. We’re going to try mixing in some different approaches and see how they work. We’ll continue to be transparent along the way.
We’re targeting our next release for Wednesday, August 2 (stay tuned for more details). We plan to include about 30 brushes and hold some number out to put in the store, probably a few at a time throughout the week. I think we might also try offering a brush or two on one of the boards from time to time, but we’re not sure about that yet. Releases will continue to be preceded by advance announcements and previews, as usual. I expect we’ll make more use of Twitter and Facebook in connection with pop-up sales, but there’s no settled plan for that either. The point is we’re going to try some new approaches and see if we can discover ways to make things work better for more customers as we move forward. Undoubtedly, we’ll try some things that won’t pan out. That’s how we learn.
Sincere thanks from the four of us (Courtney, Cody’s new wife since last month, is now helping out with processing photos) to everyone who has supported Paladin Shaving.