Deciding to move out of Florida was something that I have dragged my feet on for 2 years now.
When I tried to STOP and relax last Christmas and take a mini-vacay with my family (something I don't really get as I always have to keep up with the inbox) that is the time I always get some clarity on my life. So this last Christmas I realized over my summer cocktails, I have got to make the MOVE... and I have got to do it before SUMMER.
Lauren, my awesome National Sales Manager, and our warehouse Manager has been talking about retiring for 2 years, but I was also getting tired of the stress hurricane season brings to me every year. Just like so many of our customers in the islands & in Florida, I live the summer hurricane stress nightmare too (albeit from Australia). Yes I have always been VERY lucky, while some of my stores have been hit SO HARD (some are still not back with us yet), but how long until my luck runs out? I recently found this photo on Foxy's FB page.... the day after Irma.... utter devastation.
So I have spent the last 4 months, shopping around for warehouse facilities. I have looked in Dallas, in LA, in NJ and in TN. All the while thinking, where is easiest for me to fly in from Australia and visit.... but alas I had to weigh up all the factors and Tennessee offered the best deal on 3rd party logistics, and also gave me the best shipping rates for more of my stores. Working that out on an average considering my stores are located from Hawaii to Rhode Island, and down to the Virgin Islands.... yes that was fun.
The new warehouse is a "scan in / scan out" facility. I am very excited to think that we should hopefully eliminate a whole bunch of human error, and improve our overall inventory accuracy. Dream come true! All of our items have been barcoded with a West Indies Wear unique barcode for 10 years now.... oh the things I have had to figure out how to do over the years as we have grown.
So it was "just" a matter of doing a complete inventory count and putting a barcode sticker on the outside of every carton. It took a week for 4 of us to complete. We have 24,000 units and 800 cartons! No small feat. Here is a photo of Nancy our new FL sales rep who came to help us out.
And here is Nicole.... counting, counting, counting.
Our warehouse consisted of 4 office rooms converted with shelving space, and then 2 additional storage garages down the back, which had been added as the collections got bigger. To get things organised we had to consolidate items of the same style/size/color into one carton, so we were constantly moving boxes between the different locations.
Finally after a week of counting, our truck turned up at our door and it took a team of 7 of us more than 3 whole hours to load every carton onto the truck. That in the Florida heat was fun to say the least. At the end, we really didn't think it would all fit in the truck. The guys were rearranging the boxes like a puzzle to try to close the back door. You have to see the video. Click here to watch it.
After the truck had left, I put all of our empty shelving on Facebook Marketplace, and sold it within an hour. Here it is all loaded onto the back of "Tommy's" trailer.
So surreal to see our shelves on the back of a trailer.
So after a massive 9 days in USA, I was straight back on the A380. 15 hours from Dallas to Sydney and then transfer to my little plane for the one hour flight back to my tiny town. How stunning is Sydney's coastline.
Back to my family. I always try to make my trips to USA as quick as possible, because I feel so guilty leaving my kids.... and my husband, mother & mother-in-law who all have to pick up my "mom duties". This trip sure was exhausting, and I am glad it is over and we "pulled it off". The 800 cartons are now safely in TN and we are working on getting organised and figuring out how the new computer systems are going to work with each other.
Don't forget to watch the 3 minute video I created about the move.
Here is Lauren outside one of our now empty garages.
One love Lauren.
Thanks for EVERYTHING you have done over the years.
Enjoy your well deserved retirement xx