Close Outs

May 22, 2018

Close Outs

Discontinuing products is hard. It's a specific type of failure. Sometimes, we discontinue a product after years of solid sales, but usually if we're closing something out its because it's just not cutting it. That means all the time that went into design, development, procurement, photography, copywriting, marketing, etc. no longer has any value, nor do any of the parts we bought to make the product. 

But wait. This is just part of the life cycle of a design and manufacturing business. We would never expect all of our products to be hits, and by discontinuing those at the low end of sales we make room - literally and figuratively - for new designs. A Trader Joe's employee once told me that they discontinue 1/3 of their products every year. That's amazing, but it makes sense: TJs product culture is one of experimentation (jalapeño cashews anyone?). With finite shelf space, they have to discontinue products to make room for new failures - and the occasional new blockbuster.

Today, because we just discontinued two products, we were able to clear off two shelves in our prime production space. That feeling of openness translates nicely to the figurative aspect of this clearing. We don't rush to fill the space. It might make room to move other parts around to make them more accessible, it might just mean everything has a little more elbow room. Ultimately, it means there's room for new ideas, new designs, new failures, and the occasional hit.

In closing, a fond farewell to the Hybrid Wall Clock and the Round Bike Chain Photo Frame. The former was an improbable but successful mix of bicycle and computer parts that sold well for years but hasn't cut it for a while. The latter was the result of my attempt to directly engage an easel back with bike chain (the easel back is die cut with teeth that match cog spacing). I like the design, I'm proud of it, and it sold ok for a while, but never great. Out with the old, in with the new.