Today I met up with a friend to have a quick look round our local flower & sundries wholesaler. In general it was a fairly dissappointing trip but I got a couple of basic things that I was needing. Last year my friend made some really cute little ladybird magnets and was swithering whether to make them again this year and the conversation brought me back to something I've been thinking a lot about lately. For all of us who do the whole handmade small business thing, do customers expect to see our range simply growing, with the addition of new items every few months or do they expect to see a clean slate, everything new once or twice a year? Do we continue with the staples that always seem to fly out of the door (even if we are sick to the back teeth of making them??) or do we risk changing everything (fabrics, products, etc) for the sake of "keeping it fresh"?
The reason I ask is that when our little felt covered notebooks were featured in Country Living a couple of Christmases ago we got loads of sales, which was great. I still do covered notebooks but the style has changed and the original ones are no longer on our website. A customer who ordered the original notebooks has re-ordered a couple of times in the last few months. As well as buying the new notebooks, she asked if I could make some of the original felt ones. Now this isn't a problem as I still have the fabrics available but obviously don't have the product in stock so it does mean a special run of just a couple to please the customer. I do believe this is all part of the charm of being a small business that will happily oblige when possible, but at what stage to do you say "sorry I don't make them any more"?
So, a couple of interesting questions there that I'd be really interested to find out what others think, both from a customers point of view and as a small business owner? Answers on a postcard please....only joking, comments or e-mails would be great! firstname.lastname@example.org