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There's...just...so...much...to...do....
Nov 23rd, 2012 by Nancy

wreath

I hope you managed to push away from your Thanksgiving table in a pleasantly overfed state, and that you shared that table with loved ones old and new.  It’s a crazy time of year, and every minute of respite is that much more appreciated.

Now that today, the Friday after Thanksgiving, has become the de facto opening bell for the Holiday Rush, I’ve come to appreciate yesterday, and it’s message of “take time to drop everything, recognize and gratefully acknowledge the blessings in your life, and share a long, relaxing meal with friends and family” even more.

It’s especially ironic since Thankgsiving in my household, which we have shared with another couple families for 10+ years now, involves cooking not one but two 15+ pound turkeys, as well as stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce (thank you Mama Stamberg), eight loaves of french bread, and at least two pies, all from scratch, for a gathering of 20+ people, most of whom are under 15 years of age.  It’s not, but anyone’s measure, a peaceful, restful day (or week, for that matter).  But it is a tradition, and one of the few to which my family holds firmly.

Now that Thanksgiving 2012 is under our belts, so to speak, I’m ready to face the next month with a little more energy.

Don’t look now, but it’s time for...

BlackFridaySmallBusinessSaturdayFinishtheThanksgivingDishesSunday
CyberMondayMobileTuesdayHideStuffWednesdayChoirConcertThursdayHolidayPartyFriday
ShopMoreSaturdayEndofSoccerSeasonPizzaPartySundayFinishtheReportatWorkMonday
FluShotTuesdayHaircutsforEveryoneWednesdayGetthatFunnySoundintheCarLookedAtThursday
AnotherHolidayPartyFridayBakeCookiesAndGetTreeSaturday
HolidayBazaaratChurchandDecorateTreeSundaySweartoEatNothingButSaladUntilChristmasMonday
BandConcertTuesdayNoPleaseNotaColdThisYearWednesdayDrugstoreRunThursday
NoPleaseNotAnotherHolidayPartyFridayCan’tBreatheWhileLyingDownSaturday
ReturnStuffandShopSomeMoreSunday
WhoeverDecidedToPutEmployeeEvaluationsThisTimeofYearShouldBeFiredMonday
MoreShoppingTuesdayTryandRememberWhereHiddenStuffIsWednesday
ChristmasisSeriouslyInFiveDays?ThursdayKidsOutofSchoolNowWhatDoIDoFriday
NoThankYouIDon’tWantToGoToaCookieExchangeTomorrowMomSaturday
FindHiddenStuffbutMisplaceWrappingPaperSunday
BuyWrappingPaperandStayUpAllNightMonday
…And then it’s Christmas.

Feeling the stress? Don’t worry, We like to make things easy around here – after all, that’s what brought Lunchsense into being in the first place – so don’t let the frantic rush of the holiday season get to you.  Sit back, relax, help yourself to your favorite beverage, and get a great new lunchbox for everyone on your list. It’s absolutely clever, immensely practical, looks great on anyone, and best of all it’s just a few clicks away.

Good news: All U.S. orders get FREE SHIPPING November 23-26.

Even after the weekend has come and gone, however, do note that all U.S. orders over $80 get free shipping all the time, and everyone who signs up for the mailing list get an additional 10% off, not to mention yet more great deals just for them.  Other sweet deals will come ’round over the next month, so check in again.

And don’t forget to share a long, relaxing meal with friends and family, at every opportunity!

LunchSense10-30-09-047295

Thanks...Giving us something to think about
Nov 21st, 2012 by Nancy

May your day be full of food, friends and family!

In keeping with tradition I’m re-posting a wonderful bit Chris wrote a few years back, but I’ll precede it with a quick “message from our sponsor”:

FREE SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS FRIDAY NOVEMBER 23 THROUGH MONDAY NOVEMBER 26!

‘Thought you’d want to know.  No code required, free shipping will apply to all domestic U.S. orders.  More deals to follow in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned.  Thanks.

Now, back to our regular programming….

Bucket of Coal

In response to a perceived discourtesy, November’s holiday-spirit, simply referred to as “Thanks,” is sending December’s patron saint, Santa Claus, a bucket of coal for Christmas this year.

Disturbed by Santa’s increasing intrusion on the month of November, Thanks feels forgotten and rudely ignored.  “It’s just so inconsiderate,” she said.  “We used to share the parade with him, but now he’s coming with the full-color newspaper inserts, direct-mailings and television ads before the turkeys even reach the stores.”

Public concern over Santa’s expansion appears to be mixed.  “I wish it was Christmas every day,” one seven-year-old boy confided.

Thanks, however, is convinced “St. Nicholas” has committed an egregious mistake.  “That fat, old elf is finally going senile,” she said.  “He doesn’t know what he’s doing and he’s confusing the kids.”

The facts suggest Claus did start the Christmas campaign earlier than usual this year.  Toy catalogs began trickling into mailboxes almost as soon as the trees surrendered their leaves, and electronic solicitors began flooding email accounts just after the recent elections.

When questioned, Claus admitted to a misunderstanding, though he blamed it on the complexities of varying international customs.  “I might have gotten a little mixed-up,” he confessed.  “The Canadians have their thankful thingy in October, and the missus is always nagging me about needing to ‘check the list twice’ and everything, so I didn’t want to dawdle this year.”

Is it merely an accident, or instead, a growing trend?  Ever since Kris Kringle endorsed “Black Friday” as the unofficial start to the Christmas season, retailers have been utilizing his likeness earlier and earlier to promote their sales.

“Santa is good business,” one store-manager concluded succinctly.

Statistical analysis indicates consumers, in turn, are beginning to shift their attentions to the Christmas season sooner than ever before.

“Thanksgiving?” one mother of four shrugged, “I’m thankful when my shopping’s done and all the presents are wrapped.”

In the U.S., Thanksgiving has legally controlled the fourth Thursday in November since December 26, 1941 (the day after Christmas).  Traditionally, the holiday has occurred on this date since 1863, however a source close to the Ministry of Christmas contends, “Nobody has ever said anything about the following Friday, or any of the weeks prior, for that matter.”

This same source, in an exclusive interview, revealed that Santa is no longer solely in charge of the Ministry, and that he is most likely not the one responsible for the increased promotional effort.  Tech-hungry consumer demands have allowed corporate retailers and manufacturers to muscle in on the North Pole’s operation.

“Kids don’t just want dollies, tin soldiers or BB guns anymore,” the source instructed, “they want an iTouch, an X-Box or a Nintendo DS.  Who do you think makes those, the elves?”

For her part, Thanks is unwilling to let Kringle off the hook.  Interviewed in a grocery store parking-lot, next to a row of leaning fir trees, she confirmed that she had heard the rumors but added, “Santa not in charge anymore?  I simply won’t believe it.”

Regardless of who’s to blame, Thanksgiving has clearly been slighted, and the effects of this negligence have yet to be fully realized.

“I don’t mean to seem ungrateful,” Thanks explained.  “Everybody loves Santa, especially the children, but I just think we need to stop and appreciate what we already have, before we begin asking for something new.”

When asked what she hoped to accomplish by her symbolic gesture, Thanks replied, “Gratitude should precede bounty in action and acknowledgment; it is the parent of all other virtues.  Santa should understand.”

Did I mention free shipping?
Jan 27th, 2012 by Nancy

Our Postal service logoOh, my United States Postal Service. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I seriously do love the USPS, and although it’s a little embarrassing, and I occasionally feel a bit coy about this affection, it’s high time I step forth and proclaim it.

I run an internet-based business, which means I spend (as do all the rest of the internet businesses, from me up to Amazon.com) a very large chunk of my time and attention into the logistics of getting your order from my warehouse to your doorstep.  After we select and fill the appropriate carton with the ordered items, we all have to consider the need for packing materials; the size; the weight; the distance to travel; the desired speed of travel; whether the recipient will be present when the order arrives, and what to do if he/she is not; whether to insure the shipment; how to track the shipment; what to do if it doesn’t arrive.  It’s really pretty breathtaking, when you think about it, what goes on between that “click here to complete your order” and finding a box on your doorstep.

The USPS has been going through a rough patch lately, I know, and if it’s been difficult to understand why, I’ll try to summarize the issues, which were also mentioned here.  You might have heard that the PO is looking squarely at an almost $10 billion deficit.  It has come about in part because of the drop in First Class mail service thanks to the increasing popularity of online bill-paying services, the weakened economy, and competition among package delivery services.  However, some of that deficit is the result of a 2006 law that required the Postal Service to prepay retiree health benefits.  It is the only agency, public or private, that has been required to do so at this level – the Postal Service was required to prepay 75 years of health care coverage in 10 years’ time.  Further, the USPS overpaid the pension obligations from 1972 to 2009 and has requested (but not received) a refund on their overpayment.  Their deficit would become a $1.5 billion surplus if these issues would corrected; Congress is looking at bills to address them.  In the meantime we face the prospect of slower service, shuttered facilities, and thousands of layoffs.

I find this heartbreaking.

So: why do I love them?

First and foremost, they are the green team of shipping.

Think about it – the postal carrier comes to your address just about every day anyway, yes? Remember that the other services have to make a special trip to deliver your package. Besides that obvious green advantage, here are a few more:

  • A third of all postal deliveries are made on foot
  • The USPS delivery fleet includes electric, hybrid, and biodiesel vehicles
  • The USPS uses water-based inks for its stamps
  • Priority and Express envelopes and boxes have been Cradle-to-Cradle certified for meeting high environmental standards from manufacture to disposal
  • The USPS has been working to reduce energy use and incorporate green design elements in its buildings
  • Postal workers are unionized

As if that’s not enough, some other things you may not have known about them:

They hire more veterans than any other civilian employer:  135,800 of their 570,000+ person workforce, according the the American Postal Workers Union.

It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the US Constitution, and does not receive a cent of tax money – all its operations are funded by the revenues it generates.  It is also obligated to deliver to every single U.S. Postal address, and in many rural areas the post office is the de facto community center.

Only the items shipped via the US Postal Service have federal law enforcement protection. If you are leery of  online monetary transactions and banking, there’s no safer way to deliver your personal checks.

Their annual food drive, “Stamp Out Hunger,” surpassed 1 billion lbs. of food collected in 2010 after 18 years of this annual event. Held every year on the second Saturday in May (May 12 this year) it has become a major source of non-perishables for food banks across the country.

Personally, I like the US Postal Service because I like their website better than the website of those guys in brown shorts.

And the postal carriers are the underrated masters of navigation in your neighborhood. If I’m ever in a new part of town and I’m lost, or I’m unable to find a business or a house, or if I want to find the homes for sale in a particular neighborhood, or I want to know where I can get a cup of coffee, or my gas tank is about to hit empty, I KNOW that I can ask the postal carrier and he or she will set me straight, every single time.

How can you help remedy the sorry situation the Postal Service finds itself?

First of all, use the postal service to ship packages when you can.  For cross-country shipping they may be a day or two slower than the other guys for the standard, every day, ground shipping option (parcel post in USPS parlance) but you’ll probably find they are cheaper in many cases.  If you’re shipping within about a 500 mile radius, you might even find the faster service (Priority Mail) is cheaper, not to mention faster than the other ground services, and their flat-rate cartons are free!

Second, buy your postage online.  Besides the fact that you’ll avoid the lines at the P.O., you’ll get a bit of a discount.  What’s more, it’s really easy, and even kind of thrilling to see postage come out of the printer.  Even though you’ve paid for it, it feels a bit like printing money, or at least what I think printing money would feel like if I did that.  The down side of printing your postage is that you may get cold stares from the unfortunates that are waiting in line at the P.O. when you breeze past them to the counter and drop off your packages.

Third, contact your congressional representative and let them know that you do care to keep the Postal Service operating at its current level of service.

So, in honor of the mighty men and women in blue stripey shirts and black socks with shorts and whatnot, I’m offering free shipping all the time to orders of $80.00 or more. That’s two lunchboxes, in most cases (for two smalls you’d have to throw in a couple extra food containers, which is usually a good idea anyway – have one at work, have one in the dishwasher). It’s the least I can do to keep those fine men and women going!

Full disclosure: Summer Deals
Jul 15th, 2011 by Nancy
Did I mention that, starting in early August, we'll be able to customize your lunchbox?

Did I mention that, starting in early August, we'll be able to add names?

I like running a business.

I get to decide what goes on sale and when, and I get to tell you all about it.

Here’s what’s coming to a Lunchsense website near you:

You want the best possible deal and you want to get this off your back-to-school “to-do” list? BUY NOW. From today through August 2, everything on the Lunchsense website will be discounted 20% .  All you need is the code, and here it is: EBS201120

You’re not quite ready to buy? COME BACK IN AUGUST (don’t worry, we’ll remind you). From August 3 through August 24, everything on the Lunchsense website will be 10% off.  Here’s the code: PTS201110 (note that it won’t be live until August 3, though).

Wondering why you’d buy at 10% rather than 20%? Here’s why: two days – August 8 & 9, 2011 - of FREE PERSONALIZATION, and two days – August 15 & 16, 2011 – of FREE SHIPPING.  Neither of these deals needs a code, they’ll just magically apply to everyone on those days.

Either of these deals MIGHT meet or beat 20% off, depending on your location and whether you want a name on that lunchbox.  Which one is better for you? It all depends on where you live and what you want to order.  I’d suggest you go to the website, figure out what you’d like, then figure out when it makes the most sense for you to place your order.

Why am I telling you this? Check out this post from last October for my opinions about discounts, but in a nutshell:

1. I prefer transparency and forthrightness over obfuscation and sneakiness any day.

2. Offering the best deal early helps smooth out an otherwise chaotic month of back-to-school selling, and ensures that everyone will get their order with plenty of time to spare.

3. Because I can.  It’s my business.

20% off everything at Lunchsense!
Oct 25th, 2010 by Nancy

One great looking lunchboxI was setting up for a trade show earlier this year – always a fun, if sweaty and laborious, day because we biz owners get to catch up with each other since the last show – and had a welcome exchange with an old friend.  She (another retailer) and I were comparing notes about the economy and how we were weathering this “Great Disruption.” Her outlook?

“Flat is the new growth.”

I had to agree with her – the last two years have been brutal to most small businesses – but I’m pleased to say Lunchsense is beating the odds and actually growing, slowly but surely.  It’s a lot more work spreading the waste-free lunchbox message these days, though, and I’ve been trying to find that sweet spot of deals, offers, promos, whatever, to keep sales hoppin’ and still stay in business.

I’ve avoided many typical promos (buy one, get one free; spend $X.xx with me and I’ll send you a free, um, food container!; send a friend my way, and you’ll get a coupon for another purchase) because I’ve found that they have one thing in common: if you buy enough stuff, you will get even more…stuff.

But what if you don’t need more stuff?

This drives to the heart of my business philosophy.  I AM in the business of providing you with an effective solution to a long list of lunch-packing problems, but I am NOT in the business of pushing stuff on you that you don’t need or want. After all, I got started on this whole love affair with a durable, washable lunchbox because I hated throwing away half a dozen baggies a day, not to mention the leftovers in them.  So I chafe at being asked to buy more in order to get the best deal – it just feels wasteful.

If you don’t need it, I’d really rather you not buy it, at any price.

You, of course, are absolutely right when you say, “thanks, but I can decide for myself what I do and don’t need.”  Yes.  True.  I wholeheartedly agree.  I also agree, wholeheartedly, that “need” can be defined many ways: I am absolutely certain we all “need” art and music and beauty in our lives, for example.

But to hold that which you need hostage  to a “if you buy just a little more, I’ll throw in free shipping!” sort of teaser just doesn’t sit right with me.  I’ve been tempted by – and succumbed to – promos like these.  But even if the bargains are good, I don’t like feeling that my relationship with a company is defined only by how much I buy, not by what their products do to improve my life.

And yet, I still very much want your business, and I know that it’s risky to invest in a lunchbox (a lunchbox!) especially if you really have to count every dollar these days.  For me, there’s only one way to sweeten the deal without tainting the exchange:

Everything at Lunchsense is 20% off, now through November 18. Coupon code is BLOG20

(Note that the coupon code is case sensitive, by the way.)

That’s going to be the best (but not the only) discount on Lunchsense through the end of 2010, and for the sake of transparency I’ll share those other deals with you now:

After November 18th the sale doesn’t go away entirely, but the 20% turns into 10%.

And everybody with a US address (including, of course, APO/FPO) who orders up on the website on November 29 (the Monday after Thanksgiving, also known as cyber Monday) gets free shipping.

I’m not tinkering with the deals to be a meanie.  I’m only trying to smooth out the seasonal rush, thereby increasing the likelihood that I’ll get everything shipped with plenty of time to spare for the gift-giving holidays.  If you figure out what you want, then find that you’d save more by getting the ‘10% discount + free shipping’ than the ‘20% discount + shipping’, then…I’ll see you on the 29th, yeah?

So yes, please, get your order in when it makes the most sense for you, and check that off your list.  If you see the need, that is.  And yes, please, tell your friends about this deal if you think they’d like a lunchbox too!

About that “tell your friends” thing – I do feel immeasurably grateful to you for doing so, and I’d like to show that gratitude – what do you suggest?  What is a useful, meaningful expression of gratitude to you from a company you do business with?

“Changing the way we think about lunch,” indeed.  How ‘bout changing the way we think about stuff?

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