Stained Glass Express always took pride in never being out of stock on any glass. We would have AT LEAST one sheet cut up and out on the retail floor ready for you to carry out. Then we had another full sheet in the warehouse. As soon as the full sheet in the warehouse went to the retail floor, we ordered another.
It is not that simple any longer. Since Spectrum (announced May 11, 2016) and Uroboros (announced October 2016) closed, not only has some glass been scarce or not available at all, the dynamics of buying glass is different. Both companies’ assets were sold to Oceanside glass and Tile.
Oceanside certainly has had their challenges. They moved the assets, they built buildings, they trained workers. As the distributor’s warehouses emptied of their stock of Spectrum and Uroboros, we felt the need to find glass. It was a year from the time Spectrum announced closing that we knew that Oceanside would begin production. In the mean time, this is what we did:
- We sell a lot of cabinet glass and most of it to one customer. We bought 1 year’s supply hoping the dust would settle by then and we would not be cutting and putting together hundreds of new sample sets for this customer. We called it right on that one! We made it through the year and we are still using the same sample sets. Below is our top selling cabinet glass. Clear Seedy.
2. We brought in two new lines of fusible glass. First, we brought in Wissmach’s 96 line. That meant rearranging some display area to make room for a new line of glass. We still had a lot of the old System 96, but as we ran out of some colors, we needed to be ready. Then we brought in Youghiogheny 96. We later became the Northeast distributor for Youghiogheny and increased that line.
3. We increased our offering of Bullseye compatible glass. We like to think of this as 90 COE but Bullseye just says Bullseye compatible. We have had more customers switch over to Bullseye to avoid the turmoil and there is no question it is totally beautiful.
Then Oceanside announced that most of the line that previously was non-fusible would become fusible. Wow! That involved us changing around the entire showroom. Our big wall of non- fusible cubbies would become fusible because that change meant most of our glass would be fusible. What a delight this change is for fusers. Fusers have many more options.
All these changes for Spectrum/Oceanside meant for a rocky supply chain. Clears were manufactured and then they switched to color. Before they went back to clears, they became scarce.
It also meant for a lot of changing around the showroom and trying to keep things so you could find what you wanted. (If we were lucky enough to have it!) Keeping the non-fusible separate from the fusible. For a time, we might have some that looked exactly alike but one was fusible and one was not.
At this point there are colors that are manufactured twice a year. We can only hope that our distributors call it correctly and have enough to get us to the next run. They have not even manufactured all the colors yet!
Iridized glass has all but disappeared. Kokomo’s iridizing machine was shut down during the EPA investigations in 2016. It got plugged up when it was turned off and they have not brought it back to running again. Oceanside does not have the ability to iridize yet. Once in awhile we get some Wissmach but it is scarce.
Then we have two new lines. Big investment. Then the Oceanside started being manufactured. We wanted to grab that as it became available. Big decisions about how much to buy. We all have limited resources and even though we might want to spend every dollar on glass (we know you understand THAT), we also have to meet payroll, pay utilities, put paper in the copy machine and all those other things you just hate to think about.
Even planning a sale is different. I now start gathering up enough glass to have it on sale, three months ahead. I might have to buy from three different distributors and I generally try not to buy glass more than twice a month. That means there is extra glass setting here waiting for a sale that is three months out, some waiting for a sale two months out etc. That means less money for routine orders. However, we now know we better buy it when it is available.
We are being diligent to get the glass as it is available. We are trying to keep the website updated with the changes. Somedays when customers don’t seem to know there have been shutdowns, we think we should pat ourselves on the back. that means we have kept enough stock so that vast gaps are not obvious to you, the customer. There are other days when we don’t know how we are going to run a sunflower class because we don’t have enough yellow, that we heave a large sigh. However, we keep searching and make it happen.
Despite all the current difficulties, we are lucky to be in an industry that surrounds us with so much beauty, fun and healing power.