Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer is easy living in Michigan...

It has's  been a while since our last blog and update to you and so we are overdue.  Let's start with the undeniable truth that it has taken a while for it to arrive... much longer than last year.... but Summer is here both on the calendar and in my heart.   My friends often ask me as part of common courtesy.... "How are you doing?" and my new standard reply is "Summer is always easy my friend!"  It could never be more true than here in the mitten state. Did you hear that Wisconsin tried to steal that for themselves?  It's true!  I pulled out a map and tried to see what the fuss was over.  Wisconsin DOES NOT look anything like a mitten.  Unless your hand was crushed in a bad industrial accident or your blind Grand Mother knit you a pair of mittens.  Time out!

I can't help myself... time for a commercial interruption to help pay some bills....  


They come in Green, Red, and Grey.... free shipping if you mention this blog. Use redemption code:
michmitt13 at the check out.... ;)

So it is clear to me that Michigan is indeed the Mitten state... and the rabbit state if you live above the bridge... we have no tie in at this time for a rabbit promotion... just yet... ;)

What make summer living so easy?  Let me count the ways.  First... a flexible schedule.  No 6 am wake ups in the cold, dark and potentially snowy mornings.  Second... flip flops in shorts.  Now I know the professional standards of dress have changed over the decades.  I used to wear a suit, dress shirt , and tie every day for at least the first decade of my professional career.   But... someone invented casual Friday and I could hardly have needed to be told twice.  Who's idea was the neck tie anyway?  I say it had to be...I dare take the risk to say this.... a woman.  Stop to consider the idea of taking a length of silk AND then making various maneuvers to create noting short of a noose... to go around the neck.... to be pulled tightly around the neck of a man... which in reality restricts blood flow to the brain... no wonder men can be so stupid!   My point is... shorts and flip flops are a more intelligent choice.  No restricted blood flow to the brain... because you certainly could not wear a dress shirt and tie with shorts and flops!  It is the intelligent choice!   I hear Men's Wearhouse just fired their long time spokesman... George Zimmer.  Look for a new lineup of shorts and flip flops to arrive in their stores soon.  I GUARANTEE IT!  

What is happening with Greenfundraiserstore.com you ask?   After a slow roll out in 2010-12 we spent a great deal of time, effort, resources, and energy running hard.  We attended events in green education, festivals, fairs, school functions, farmers markets, and executive meetings all in an effort to build our brand.
We put fund raising in the first position over everything in the model in an effort to offer a unique platform to provide educational alternative fund raising over the traditional non educational and often less healthy choices being offered in schools and community organizations these days.  Here is what we learned.  Overwhelmingly people told us they loved the concept.   We had countless heads nodding.... yes... this is it... keep going.  Get in touch with us.   And so we did... we kept doing... we did the outreach and followup... but there was resistance.  What was getting in the way... why the lack of engagement with what we have built?  

It comes down to a few simple observations.  First... change is risky.  What if I give up what I'm doing now and this new idea doesn't work out?   I had an Athletic Director of a near by high school look me in the eye and tell me with a straight face that "cookie dough sales are good for $10,000" or more to our fund base.  I stopped to consider why an Athletic Director would trade his soul which is supposed to be about being "athletic" to a company that would line his fund with cash in exchange for calories.  I should have understood this more clearly as what I was coming up against.  This guy did not care at all about the message of selling "sugar" to a sea of addicts... as a drug dealer cares little about selling drugs to a drug addict.  That may seem a little harsh... but from my view it is one in the same.  Childhood obesity, sedentary life styles and we turn a blind eye to this talk from both sides of the mouth?


Second... the inner circle for most of these organizations is a pretty tight circle and can be touch if not impossible to break into.  PTA groups are run by a very few people who I have high regard for.  They do put in valuable amounts of time and energy when others would not never even attend a meeting let alone serve in a meaningful role.   Once again... I found a certain amount of head nodding... with the same remarks of a great concept... but no actin or engagement.   Many have their own agenda's or are associated with an organization that they are going to push to the front and implement.  Not that they are bad idea's but my point is that there is an agenda and that is what gets brought to the front.

Front the beginning there was a struggle about the business model and we debated if we should be a fund raising and educational organization who offers a window into green shifts OR should we be a green product store who offers insight into green shifts in the course of daily living with a fund raising feature on the back end?

This year after closing out 2012 with a somewhat of a disastrous finish... we decided to make a "green shift" in our business model.  Many of you know that in the last quarter of 2012 we moved forward with a brick and mortar version of the Greenfundraiserstore.com with the creation and roll out of "The Little Green Store".

 It was a proud moment and a fulfillment of my dream of taking a run down inefficient old home and creating something new again.   Many of you saw the metamorphosis take place with the building improvements and energy efficiencies we put into the project such as doors, windows, and furnace. One thing we did not get to was an insulation inspection.  That caught up to us in unexpected and disastrous ways in January 13.

I will close this blog by simply leaving you with this question to ponder,  During the week prior to the "event" it was pushing 50 degrees and we really had not seen much from winter yet.  We had just come off a remarkable "non-winter" the year before.   Recall the massive fruit crop failures from the early and untimely emergence of spring only to be lost to heavy freezes that come later.   Was winter 13 going to be a repeat performance.  Then with no warning... like winter always like to do... the temperatures plunged to below freezing AND the wind blew to 40-50 mph gusts.  Just enough to enter a small hole in the framing along the outside wall... fueled by the wind to create a super cold cavity... where the water supply line happened to occupy.  I left the building at 5 pm or so with everything in order and making plans for spring 13

I stopped a friends in town to talk about my plans and even talked about plans of bringing our green businesses together under one roof.  When I arrived I spent the first few minutes doing a walk around and picking up what the wind from the night before had blown around in the yard.  When I passed the south side of the building I noticed what appeared to be what I will describe as a "frozen coke" like substance running out of the side of the building.  Now I am admittedly not the sharpest tool in the shed... but your not supposed to see this coming out of the side of a building!  I knew in that moment that the rest of the day was not going to be as planned.  When I entered the building it was completely frosted over and clearly the furnace had stopped working.  As I turned the corner to check the front office I could hear the sounds of rushing water... and I knew we had a frozen pipe burst.  The chair and desk I was seated at just a few hours ago was completely covered in debris and rushing water.  I made my way to the basement to shut off the water only to find bigger problems.  More than a foot of freezing water had accumulated and that left me only one option... off with the shoes/socks... roll of the pants and take the arctic plunge.  I won't bore you with the rest.

So the question for you is simple... was I a victim of climate change?  OR just an unfortunate guy dealing with a typical ever-day issue with regular changes that come with weather?    

Lessons learned:
#1  Check your insulation
#2  I don't like working retail hours... God bless you shop owners!
#3  Every idea is not a good idea... learn from your mistakes AND move on.
#4  Sometimes your wife is right.... :)

Our revised model for Greenfundraiserstore.com is back to business basics 101.
Find a model that is workable and that shows an ability to be profitable... then grow it to scale.
We are re emerging as an e commerce store... no bricks... no mortar... just good products delivered to the people and places who want them.  This year to date we are tracking at a 650% sales growth rate over our first year and implementation of the e commerce sight.   While that may seem impressive if you consider the possibility that we might have made one sale last year and now we are at six.  Although that is not the case we are still very much in the early stage start up stages and are having success in California, Washington State, Texas, Florida, and various east coast states... we are still alive!


Play it loud!  And enjoy summer in Michigan!  ;)