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State of the Union 5/26/2021

TL;DR

  1.  We are not shutting down the site.
  2. Paypal transfers were processed yesterday and will continue to be processed every week.

What’s happening?!

As you’ve probably noticed, sales are horrible – especially for those who sell clipped coupons but even the whole inserts sales are faltering right now.  While I’m by no means an expert, here’s what I think is happening:

  1.  There are no good grocery coupons in the inserts these days.  Remember the days when we used to have Knorr, Campbells, Ramen, Hillshire Farms, Valley Fresh, Tyson, Marie Callenders, Green Giant, Kraft, Angel Soft, Bounty, Purina, Bob Evans, Folgers, Jimmy Dean, Land O’ Lakes, Country Crock, and dozens of other grocery coupons?  These days the inserts are filled with laundry coupons, healthcare coupons, and beauty/body care coupons – and even those suck.  The coupon values are barely worth the time and trouble it takes to clip them.
  2. Manufacturers are not putting out the coupons because they are not putting out the product.  And if they can put out the product then they’re having trouble shipping it. 
  3. Manufacturers are also not putting out the coupons because they don’t have to right now.  They can barely meet demand at regular price right now.
  4. Some people are not using coupons because they’re still getting that monthly or weekly stimulus boost….
  5. And even if those people wanted to use coupons… most of the coupons suck!
  6. The Post Office is KILLING us!  We have lost more subscriptions than I care to count due to delayed deliveries.  Customers understand it’s not our fault, but they still don’t want to pay for coupons or inserts that are going to be expired by the time they get them.

What Lies Ahead?

I wish I had a crystal ball but I don’t, so I’m only guessing…

  1.  June and July are usually slow months for us anyway.  Sales usually pick back up by the second week of August.   By what I’m seeing on the News, it sounds like schools across the country will be back in session – in person – in September – so that should send people back to the grocery stores.
  2. COVID restrictions are being lifted across the country and the numbers for vaccinations keep rising so that should send more people back to work, and back to the grocery store, by Fall.
  3. With more people able to work, manufacturers should start getting their production levels back and there should be truckers to deliver it to the stores.

Of course, all of this is just a guess.  Only time will tell.

What can YOU do?

  1.  Right now the biggest sellers on the site are the specialty coupons and the whole inserts but even those sales are dropping a bit.
  2. If you’re selling clipped coupons it’s going to be tough going for a while but here’s a few things to think about:
    • You need to have some quantity.  If you’re only getting 10 inserts a week you’re pretty much wasting your time because there aren’t enough good, sellable coupons in the inserts right now. 
    • You need to take a look at your lot sizes and maybe get creative with your lots or lot sizes.  I saw someone selling a lot of 10 $1/1 People Magazine a while ago.  Why would anyone want to buy 10 copies of the same magazine?  As tight as money is right now I wouldn’t even waste my time listing that coupon. 
    • You need to get your listings up as early as possible.  The whole insert sellers are getting their inserts the week before they come out in the paper so our customers are buying whole inserts so they can get the coupons earlier.
    • You need to take a look at your lot prices vs value.  There are just not enough good coupons in the inserts to make it worthwhile for the customer to buy individual coupons.  If they can buy 5 whole inserts for $8, why buy 5 different lots for a total of $12?

What are we going to do with THCM?

  1.  We are NOT shutting down the site.  We ARE taking a look at combining THCM with THCMSubscriptions but that’s still being discussed.  If we do combine the sites it will be because we could save a few bucks on licensing fees if we go down to one site. 
  2. If we DO combine the sites we WILL give you plenty of notice so you can move your listings over.
  3. Someone emailed me the other day and said they didn’t want to ship their orders because I wasn’t answering their emails fast enough and they were afraid I had disappeared with their money.
    • Shit happens in my life just like it happens in yours and I have NEVER missed sending ANY vendor their money EVERY FRIGGIN’ WEEK!
    • If you don’t trust THCM by now then get off the site.  And yes, I mean that.  I take enough of this crap from the customers so I can keep YOU in business, I won’t take it from you, too.
    • The Vendor Terms and Conditions that you agreed to state that all orders must be shipped the same day they are received if they come in before noon Monday through Friday.  Period.  There’s nothing in there that says “but if Donna doesn’t answer your emails fast enough you can wait a day or two.”  The Post Office is causing enough delivery problems for us.  Ship your orders!
  4. We are putting Gracie’s Daily Deal on hold for the time being and I really hate that.  I love Gracie’s Daily Deal but there are just not enough different coupons to promote every day.  It’s getting to the point where I’m pushing the same coupons every week.  And the newsletter?  I’m only sending it out a couple of times a week right now.  Less than 8% of our subscribers even open it anymore, which isn’t really a bad thing because most of them just come directly to the site.  But again, I don’t have anything new to tell them so they’re getting bored with it.

There are expenses involved with any website.  We have a monthly triple-digit webhosting fee, we have 3 programs on the sites that cost us hundreds of dollars in annual licensing fees, we have a monthly fee to maintain the mailing lists for the newsletter and the Gracie’s Daily Deal email, not to mention the Paypal and Stripe fees that come with every order.  At this time THCM is still paying it’s own way, both the regular site and the subscriptions site, so we’re really not worried and we’re not even thinking about shutting everything down and moving on. 

That said…

Business slows down at this same time every year.  It’s summer and people just don’t grocery shop as much in the summer.  They have better things to do.  And when business slows down I take advantage of it – and I always encourage you vendors to take advantage of it – and take some time off.  Instead of spending 4 or 5 solid hours a day, 7 days a week, on THCM, I do just what it takes to keep things running and then I move on to something else.  In my case, it’s building websites for other people and baking cookies for my grandkids.  Just because you don’t see me making changes on the site or sending emails doesn’t mean I’m not monitoring everything. 

The only difference this year is the unpredictability of… everything.  And trust me, I’m as frustrated with all of this as you are.  COVID changed everything, for everybody, and Jessica and I are choosing to stay positive and keep rolling with the punches like we always have.  So, just like last year, I encourage you to use this downtime to your advantage.  Analyze your business, take stock of your business and personal goals, binge on Netflix, take a vacation, start a garden, go for a swim, take a hike… Let me know if you want my secret Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!

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