Testimonials Page

Yesterday we added a Testimonials Page to the website.

This is something that we should have done 5 years ago, but somehow never got around to.

Thanks to our wonderful clients who have already contributed comments, and if you would like to join them, just click on the email link on the page.

How Plans Change

It is very true that the process of running one’s own business, big or small, expands to fill all available time. Further, on any given day, the plans for that day may wind up being preempted by events or activities that represent higher priority. Yesterday was such a day.

I had planned to spend the day pulling, measuring and photographing some of our recent great Denver Show finds for the website. It never happened. That is because clients ALWAYS come first.

We awoke to find a $300 order from the website (what we call the store). That is larger than the average order, and was a nice way to start the day.

We have somewhere around 2,000 items in the store, and I had to find 9 of them (I usually do this part of order fulfillment). It actually took us a few years to get this part of the job down to an efficient process.

We have large plastic bins where we store all of the items listed in the store. The bins are labeled by type of stone (say Palm Stones), and if the type of stone requires more than one bin, the bins for that type of stone are alphabetized.  We have 5 Palm Stone bins.

Each bin contains Ziplock type bags; one bag for each variety of stone (say Amethyst) in that bin.

In each of those bags we keep all of the available stones in that variety, with each stone residing in its own small velour pouch just like the ones that we give with the stones that we sell.  The difference with these pouches is that they are all a pale yellow color.

Inside each pouch with the stone is a small piece of paper that has a number written in black Sharpie. The number is the item number for that stone (If it is Amethyst Palm number 5 the paper will simply have the number 5 on it). That paper is placed so that the number is positioned facing toward the outside of the pouch. The reason that all of the pouches are light yellow is that that it is the only color pouch available which allows us to read the black number directly through the pouch.

So, I pulled the 9 stones ordered by our client in Canada. I exchanged the yellow pouches for the more nicely colored ones, and put the yellow ones back to use again for more store items.

Then, I checked all of the stones against their pictures on the website. This, in theory, is not necessary, but usually about once a year there will be a problem related to us having made a mistake labeling a stone in one of the yellow pouches. It takes time to do the checking, but it is worth it not to be embarrassed by and having an unhappy client by sending him or her the wrong stone.

A worse problem occurs, luckily infrequently, when a client orders a stone which turns out to apparently not exist…. most likely due to a client having visited the house, buying a stone listed on the website, and us forgetting to remove it from the store listing.  That is very embarrassing for us and we are getting better at avoiding that one.

Anyway, after matching the ordered stones with their respective pictures and laminated information cards (Kathi does an awesome job creating these cards. They are both very beautiful and extremely informative), I then proceeded to pack everything for shipment to Canada.

Each stone is bubble wrapped in its velour pouch, and all of the stones and cards are packed with lots of protection in an appropriately sized box for mailing.

We also are i the process of having advertising for the website placed on the back of our car. At one point I had to talk to the provider doing that job in order to discuss a couple of issues. Then I signed, scanned and mailed back the authorization for the job.

We have another client in Canada who has been with us since Day One, and besides having a large box to mail for him yesterday, he had asked for about another 30 stones and I started working on that order.  He buys only the best of the best, and trusts us to select stones for him sight unseen.

After Kathi printed up our mailing labels, we went to the post office and mailed off the two boxes to Canada.

After we got home, I did a little more work communicating with our Canadian friend about his order in progress, and by then it was about time for dinner.

Even though we mailed out well over $1,000 of orders yesterday, by the end of the day I felt as if I had gotten nothing accomplished.

Hopefully, today, I will get more stones photographed and ready to go up in the store and Kathi will have time to work on more of her wonderful information cards besides printing and placing auction number labels on each of the 157 plastic bags containing our current eBay listings.

October 9 eBay Auctions

We have 157 auctions going up on eBay this evening.  They will end on the evening of Wednesday the 16th.

This will be the largest eBay cycle that we have run.

Of special note are the incredible Iris Agate, Dendritic Jaspers and a Dendritic Yellow Quartz, a crazy Black Moonstone, the brand new Silver Sheen Obsidian, a fantastic specimen of Arfvedsonite, one really awesome Malachite Worry Stone, and our brand new variety of Stromatolite.

One can often find some good bargains in our eBay listings, so we recommend dropping by if you have the chance.

Our eBay Store

October Auctions

Today we started the time-consuming task of getting our next set of eBay auctions listed. We are aiming to have them up by the evening of the ninth.

It takes Kathi and myself about 40 man-hours of work from start to finish of one eBay cycle.

This time I have 62 items to pull to complete the sheet that Kathi gives me showing what items will be relisted and what needs to be pulled fresh. The pull will take a couple of days of on and off activity. We usually have around 150 items in total in a listing cycle.

Then, I will probably shoot about 500 pictures, crop and sort them, and load them into the listing service that we use for our eBay auctions.

Next we measure the stones using electronic digital callipers, and Kathi records these measurements

Kathi will then engage in the tedious process of making and affixing labels for each of the small plastic bags in which we keep the individual stones inside of their own velour pouches for protection.

She then creates the auctions by inserting all of the measurements into existing auction templates for each type of stone, and schedules them for posting on eBay.

Once they are posted, she has to make an entire new set of labels for the bags.  These labels show the eBay auction number for each item.  It is the only way to keep things straight and avoid future mistakes.

Once the auctions are up and running, we watch for and answer questions from potential clients, and Kathi keeps track of which items receive bids and moves them into a separate bin.

On auction night Kathi does most of the work by pulling sold items and placing them and their related mineral information cards into client specific bags.  Some clients will buy only one item, while others will buy many.  The most that any one client has ever purchased in one eBay cycle is 40!

Sometimes auctions night is boring (there is nowhere near as much last second bidding as there used to be), and sometimes it is really exciting (when there are bidding wars).

After all of the auctions close, we both work on sending out invoices.

The next day is called “Pack and Ship Day”.  Kathi does bubble mailers and I do boxes. Kathi prints all of the mailing labels and I put them on the packages. The goal is to get everything that has been paid for to the post office by 6:30.

In our most recent listing cycle we sold 71 items.  P & S day is tiring but rewarding at the same time. It means that soon clients all over the world will be receiving stones that they will love.

After a couple of days almost all items that sold will be paid for and shipped.  There are always one or two clients who wait several days to pay, and we have to watch for those payments to come in.

After seven days we will send out reminders to anyone who has not as yet paid.  We almost never wind up with unpaid items which is a much more frequent problem for many eBay sellers than it is for us.

eBay is a lot of work, but it is a great way to generate new clients and also to increase awareness of our Kathi’s Krystals website.

The Fall Denver Rock Show

Kathi and I recently attended the big rock and mineral show that takes place here in Denver each September.  It is considered to be the second largest show in the country (after Tucson), and gets bigger every year.

We are very fortunate to live only about 40 minutes away from the general area of the action, which is really a combination of five major shows for the most part. The longest running of these shows now covers nine days.

We came home with a load of amazing acquisitions, and will be getting them up on the website as quickly as we can. Things to look forward to include:

  • Ocean Jasper Drusy specimens. We have been out of these for some time and are really glad to have them again.
  • Polished Quartz, Amethyst, and Green Fluorite Points.
  • Stunning large Silver Sheen Obsidian Palm Stones.
  • Stromatolite Palm Stones.
  • Yellow Feather, Royal Sahara, Sarape, Owyhee Picture, and Imperial Jasper Palm Stones.
  • Brazilian, Condor, Durango, Montana, Nebraska Prairie, Mozambique, and Red Moss Agate Palm Stones.

Of particular note is a selection of over 140 hand-picked pieces of Iris Agate. This is an Agate from Brazil that has a diffraction grating structure and shows full spectrum rainbow colors when light shines through the stone. We recently placed one of these at auction on eBay and had more page views and watchers than we have ever had on any stone.

  • Snowflake and Mahogany Obsidian Palm Stones.
  • Zebra Stone Palm Stones.
  • Smaller Pyrite Crystals.
  • Rainbow Fluorite Slabs.
  • Rainbow Moonstone Spheres.

Also worth special note is a huge selection of drop dead gorgeous perfectly clean and beautifully polished Puffy Hearts in several varieties that we have never seen as nice before.

  • Petrified Wood Palm Stones/Slabs.
  • Green, Blue, and Rainbow Fluorite, Sardonyx, and Apatite mini-Palm Stones.
  • One of the best finds was a large bunch of hand-picked Arfvedsonite Palm Stones that appear to have traces of Astrophyllite in them.

We also acquired some beautiful rough specimens.  These include Rose Quartz, Chevron Amethyst, and Holly Blue Agate with beautiful drusy crystals.

Our local friends will be glad to know that we brought home more of the incredible Enhydro Geodes from Brazil. If we can ever figure out how to ship them without the risk of freezing, they will make a great addition to the website.

Many clients have asked when our new treasures will be up in the store, and all that we can promise is that we will add them as soon as possible. It is a tedious process that we have to fit in between eBay auction cycles, shows, direct sales, and life. We appreciate your patience, and history has shown that the end result is almost always worth the wait.

Website Upgrade

We just finished a significant upgrade of our KathisKrystals.com website.

Although Kathi has handled upgrades on her own in the past, there was so much that needed to done this time that we hired a web developer for the job. We got lucky and picked a real pro.

Undergoing such a process with a website that is as important to us as is this one is, well, stressful to say the least. We have something like 40,000 photos on the site, and even though we always maintain backups, one just never knows for sure until the new site is up and running smoothly.

We have had to change web hosts in the past due to poor performance, and we do everything that we can to insure that the site is safe, fast, easy to understand, and simple to navigate. We sincerely believe that we have one of the most elegant rock and mineral websites going, and hope that you enjoy browsing the incredible stones.

The upgraded site has many important new features, many of which you will not see, and many of which you will.

Besides the many technical improvements, there are several features which make the site more user friendly and simply more fun. These include:

  • The inclusion of Social Media in order to provide a more interactive nature to the site.
  • The addition of this blog in order to provide more frequent and more in-depth communication to our clients.
  • When looking at the various stones, the coolest new feature has to be what is called the “Lightbox”. When clicking through to one particular stone (on what we call an item page), if you click on any of the thumbnail photos of the piece, an enlarged picture will quickly open up in a very pretty window against a darkened background. Further, if you then click anywhere on the left or right side of that enlarged photo, the feature will immediately switch to the previous or next picture in the grouping.
  • On any page where we show a list of all of the various offerings for one particular kind of stone (say Blue Lace Agate Palms), you now have the option of viewing that page in list or grid form. The default is set to list, but one quick click will change it to grid format if you so desire.
  • Also on those same pages, there is now a drop down menu so that you can order the offerings in different ways. This is much like how one can order searched items on eBay.
  • For our international clients there is a huge fix. Our previous shipping module, which is our connection to the U.S. Postal Service, did not offer First Class Shipping quotes for international orders… only Priority Mail which is prohibitively expensive for cross-border mailings. Our new module does offer International First Class shipping quotes.
  • The page is now wider for easier and more typical viewing.

There are other smaller changes which, we think, make the site more pleasing to browse and easier on the eye.

If you ever have trouble with the website or have any suggestions as to how it could be improved, please do not hesitate to let us know. We want your visit to Kathi’s Krystals to be as enjoyable as it possibly can be.