Updated: Apr 9
Ordinarily, I don't love the holidays. But this year I changed. I would be remiss to say that the rest of the year was eclipsed by holiday merriment, but this post is about something good. It's about something that I did and something that I learned. It's about how I kept things simple. It's also about something that didn't go the way I hoped, but was pretty good anyway.
Yes, this post begins and ends with Covid, but a few things happened along the way that I'd like to share.
Center Square, Easton PA
In October, the City of Easton announced that it was sponsoring a Winter Shopping Village to support local businesses; an outdoor, socially distant opportunity to make something happen.
There was a basic application and I answered most of the questions truthfully. But when it asked whether or not I had a stock of inventory, or a store at all, I caved to my duplicitous impulses and checked, "Yes."
10 Days from concept to Install
No matter, I've told worse lies. I've been on OK Cupid.
With about a week and a half between approval and opening, I just got started. My fiance (who I met on OK Cupid) had the idea of doing Pennsylvania Dutch style ornaments and showed me some pictures of hex signs. Now, that was a great idea. I could see it: a gingerbread house with a perfect grid displaying geometric laser cut folk art.
It was an excellent concept. My lies and deceit were finally paying dividends. All we had to do was work day and night to be ready for opening day, so that's what we did.
Pennsylvania Dutch Style
I have to say, the City of Easton did it properly. I am not a holiday person, but this was really fun. I don't know how these guys were playing horns through their masks. Every single person did a really great job.
It was a wild success
When you're stoked about something, it's contagious. If you stand outside your store with a smile and a big hammer, you're going to attract people (or repel them, I suppose).
It seems sort of obvious now that I'm trying to write about it, but happy people make people happy. A smile goes a long fuckn way these days and I wish people would do it more...even if it's under a mask.
But beyond my corny personality there were some things that really, really, really, really worked.
Local Pride without Lines
Mayor Panto told us in the beginning, "Do stuff about Easton." It was a simple and perfect instruction... and he was right. The Pennsylvania Dutch style hex designs rendered with modern manufacturing processes were abstract enough to evoke a sense of local belonging without excluding anyone specifically. People saw what they wanted to see in the designs. This isn't just my reading of other people...they said this to me. Customers always told me why they bought one design or another, and their reasons were always different.
Five Dollars In
The ornaments were five bucks a piece, sales tax included. For some people it was a perfect opportunity to check off little gifts for their in-laws or grand children. For others, I could see that five dollars was an amount to part with and they were very happy to be able to get a unique, local, artisan gift for someone.
A Simple Transaction
My state of the art point of sale analytics system, otherwise known as my phone, told me that the average purchase was made in three minutes. There was no upsell, no information gathering, no subscription...no B.S. whatsoever. It was like riding the Staten Island Ferry. And people of all physical abilities were able to browse everything and shop. The most common comment I heard was, "Wow, this was so easy!"
Sadly, the week before Christmas I started feeling sick. As I felt I symptoms, I knew that I had to close up shop. I can understand why people think, "Nah...it's just a cold...it's fine." I felt that way too, but the right thing to do was to just stay home, as much as I didn't want to.
My test came back positive and we spent Christmas in quarantine, which wasn't so bad either. But again, I would be remiss to say that the challenges of the Covid pandemic were eclipsed by holiday merriment.
We are here.
Laser Art NYC has officially arrived in Easton, Pennsylvania. We're now called Knecht Parts and Assembly. We're still servicing New York City, in some cases faster than when we were in Queens.
And we are going to continue to add simple, time saving, value adding improvements to our products and processes. I hope that we can stay in touch.
Wishing you and yours a healthy and prosperous 2021.
Knecht Parts and Assembly