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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.”

Lunchsense unveils new design TODAY!
Apr 1st, 2012 by Nancy

I’ve been waiting months to do this.

Are you forced to work with people who persist in swiping your fabulous Lunchsense lunchbox from the office fridge?

Worry no more! We’ve fixed that irksome problem once and for all!

Here it is:

lunchbox win

We’ve had hundred – nay, thousands - of requests from our loyal customers asking us to apply our razor-sharp design minds to their daily struggle with marginally ethical coworkers, and once again we’ve come through with a winner of a lunchbox.

Don’t delay! This is a limited time offer!

American Giant and Small Business
Feb 3rd, 2012 by Nancy

This came across my sights the other day:

How American Giant Hacked the Supply Chain

For years, it was cheaper to produce goods overseas. But Bayard Winthrop believes that’s changing, in part because of one big culprit: The Internet.

“There’s a general growing comfort level with not only consuming online but buying things like shoes and apparel online,” says Winthrop. “I think one of the reasons we’re so excited about what we’re doing is that we’re in a new time now in that for the first time you can begin to really assess the non-manufacturing related costs. Even two years ago you couldn’t do that.”

American GiantIn a nutshell, start-up clothing manufacturer American Giant, which opened its ‘doors’ this week, is doing the improbable – high quality, reasonably priced, American made clothing – by only having them available online, thereby short-circuiting the overhead of retail space, distribution, and everything else that goes into getting products into traditional brick & mortar retail.

Market forces and cultural forces have conspired against US garment manufacturing for decades.  However, with that loss has been the unfortunate loss of quality and durability.  Sociologist Julie Schor has verified what many of us have assumed for some time: garment prices have flatlined or dropped in the last 20 years, in large part due to cheap overseas labor but also because of cheaply made, low quality materials and deferred environmental costs. We therefore buy many more garments now than we did in the early 90’s, partly in response to the lower (real) prices, but also in part because of diminished quality and durability – the old saw “they just don’t make ‘em like they used to” is quantifiably, verifiably true in the garment and other soft goods industries.

Thanks to the reach of the internet and the comfort level we have achieved with online shopping and financial transactions, however, it’s very possible to do an end-around the biggest costs of bringing a new item to market – namely, renting retail space, hiring and training staff, or hiring sales reps to shlep your shiny new thing to stores in hopes they will add it to their inventory.

I’m really delighted to see this hit the big time, and I strongly encourage you to take a look at the link in the title of the quote above – there’s a succinct video demonstrating the plight of, and the hopefully bright future for, American manufacturing.  The U.S. is full of the hand skills, the machinery, and most of all the people who can, simply put, manufacture great stuff.

I’m also compelled to say, “It’s about time somebody else caught on to what we at Lunchsense have been doing all along, and why.”

After the design for Lunchsense lunchboxes came into being and I realized I wasn’t the only person on the planet who needed a better way to pack lunches, I started scouting around for local manufacturing.  I hit paydirt with Oregon Sewn Products – they are the right size in the right place and the right price, and wonderful, entertaining individuals to boot.

It’s noteworthy to temper my enthusiasm with a shot of reality, though.   If everyone were to do what American Giant is doing, it would be at the expense of American retailers.

I do manufacture a fair number of my lunchboxes in Vietnam, at a factory I visited (trip of a lifetime!) and vetted for its labor standards, working conditions, and environmental initiatives.  I’m pleased to say the factory not only passed muster but holds SA8000 certification.  Yes, the lunchboxes I manufacture overseas cost me far less than the US made lunchboxes.  They do allow me, however, to sell lunchboxes to stores, which then can sell them to you, which allows us both to make an appropriate profit in the endeavor. In other words,

I manufacture in the U.S. (and support a local manufacturer) —–> I sell to you, directly, on the internet

I manufacture overseas —–> I sell these lower cost (but identical quality) items to stores (and support a local retailer) —–> they sell to you.

Doing it this way allows me to support both U.S. manufacturing AND U.S. retailing.  I wouldn’t want to cut either business type out of my model. There are plenty of folks who just want to buy a lunchbox off a store shelf, and I am happy to meet their needs.  There are plenty of others who are fine with buying things online, and I’m here for them too.

Lastly, note that if you want a lunchbox assembled in the U.S., just say so in the comments field when you place your online order, and I promise you will get exactly that.

I wish American Giant all the best, and I really hope they succeed beyond their wildest dreams, because their success is my success, and ultimately, yours as well.       

Lunchsense Lands a Star
Oct 17th, 2011 by Chris

This is the Stella Star.  Look for it on the best websites!Online shopping has become everyone’s favorite way of finding what they need.  It has never been easier to locate products and comparison-shop for the lowest prices, yet how do we choose between multiple sites that offer the exact same deal?  More often than not, great customer service makes the difference, but who wants to find out the hard way that a site isn’t up to snuff?  Consumers can now look to the stars for guideposts to the web’s best retailers.

STELLAService rates the customer service of online stores – anonymously, and rigorously – and issues their distinctive trust marks to those that make the grade and receive an “elite” or “excellent” score.

We’re happy to announce: Lunchsense has been awarded a STELLAService star for “excellent” customer service.

STELLA’s anonymous evaluation process stress tests more than 300 elements of the online customer experience.  They navigate sites, conduct usability tests, order AND return products, interacting with companies via phone, email and (when applicable) online chat.  It’s all done undercover (we had no idea we were being tested), so the results are unbiased and “true to the experience.”

“The beauty is we don’t need their permission to do it,” STELLA CEO, Jordy Leiser says.  “We just go and become customers.”

While the preponderance of customer-generated, online reviews can prove helpful, STELLA recognized a need for independent, third-party evaluations done by professionals.  “The crowd-sourcing idea is very important because you want to know what the community thinks,” Leiser says.  “But they capture a very small percentage of the market, often only the extreme experiences.”

STELLA is serious about the business of evaluating customer service and they’ve convinced some big players to buy-in, securing $1.75 million in venture funding from key Wall Street investors.   And fifty of the top online retailers are already displaying the STELLA trust mark including big names like Diapers.com, Zappos.com, and 1-800 Flowers.com.  Only stores that receive an “elite” or “excellent” rating are entitled to display the STELLA star.  According to the STELLA site,

This seal is the only trust mark on the Web that objectively and credibly communicates to shoppers that a store is truly dedicated to providing great customer service.

Passing the test once is only the beginning. STELLA evaluates stores repeatedly – at least once a year – so we have to keep meeting their “elite” or “excellent” benchmarks, or we’ll lose our star.  And, because the reviews are conducted anonymously, we never know when we are being scored.  Getting the star is a fabulous feather, but keeping it means maintaining a consistent track record of outstanding customer service.

Lunchsense has always taken a “keep it simple” approach to customer service.  We want you to be completely satisfied with your lunchbox purchase, and we do everything we can to insure that you are.  First and foremost, we’re real people.  We strive to be accessible, friendly and accommodating, and we want our site to be as well.  Shopping at Lunchsense should be a comfortable, agreeable experience—it wouldn’t be sensible any other way.  If you find that we haven’t met your expectations, PLEASE tell us – we’ll listen, and we’ll try our best to make things right.

We’re extremely proud of our “excellent” customer service rating from STELLAService.  It feels great to be counted among the web’s stars!

Lunchsense Approved by Green America
Jul 28th, 2011 by Chris

You Decide - Two-Way Street Sign

Doing business without the benefit of eye-contact or a firm handshake requires a certain leap of faith.  Today’s international, web-based marketplace has created exciting opportunities for consumers and entrepreneurs alike, but who can you trust?  More and more online shoppers are learning to read the signs—looking for badges, seals or logos that indicate a product or service meets the specific standards of a respected accreditation authority.  Now, Lunchsense is proud to announce: we’ve been awarded the Green America Seal of Approval!  This widely recognized trustmark assures conscientious consumers that we are a socially and environmentally responsible business.

GreenBusinessSealofApprovalPMS370--updatedFINAL2010

Green America is a non-profit membership organization concerned with the promotion of ethical consumerism.  The group, originally called Co-Op America, formed in 1982 to “create an economy that works for people and the planet.”  A few of the projects they actively support include:

Green America (along with Global Exchange) has hosted the Green Festival for the last three years, and they also publish the National Green Pages.  This directory links values-driven consumers with like-minded, “Green” businesses in an effort to keep dollars working on the side of good.

Prospective members of Green America’s Green Business Network undergo a rigorous screening process before they receive the Seal of Approval and gain their listing in the Green Pages.

Qualifying businesses must demonstrate that they:

  • Actively use their business as tools for positive social change;
  • Run “values-driven” enterprises that operate according to principles of social justice and environmental sustainability;
  • Are socially and environmentally responsible in the way they source, manufacture, and market their products and run their offices and factories;
  • Are committed to developing and employing extraordinary practices that benefit workers, customers, communities, and the environment; and
  • Are holistic, intentional, and transparent in their approach to social/environmental responsibility.

We thought, “That sounds like us,” and Lunchsense submitted the extensive application, detailing not only our own company’s practices, policies and principles, but also everything we knew about our vendors.  Green America next conducted a follow-up interview with Lunchsense founder and president, Nancy Myers.  They offered a few final recommendations, and after a favorable evaluation, we received their Seal of Approval.

Lunchsense has always been concerned about the earth, sustainability and improved living.  Our mission, “changing the way people think about lunch,” plainly states our focus on innovation—change.  “There’s got to be a better way!” was the impulse that launched Lunchsense.

Lunchsense practices complete openness regarding the choices we make in constructing and marketing our product.  We stand behind our combination of reliable performance, practicality and sustainability.  We sincerely believe Lunchsense offers a decided improvement over comparable alternatives.  As far as the fair trade, sweatshop, and industrial waste issues go, we actively support efforts to combat these social injustices.  We periodically use our FaceBook page, and this blog space to promote these interests.  Simply put, we care.

Our involvement with the Green Business Network is another opportunity to tell you about Lunchsense—who some of our friends are, and how we do business.  We want to help people get to know us better, because great minds think alike!  And, who wouldn’t shop at a groovy, green, progressive place rather than a pollution-spewing, profits-at-any-cost sweatshop, if given the choice?  It makes sense to read the signs.

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