Last year, we had lots of orders that we couldn’t fulfill because between the time we checked our supplies on Friday and filled our orders on Monday, the supply simply ran ran out.
While there were a few unusual things that happened in 2012 and which we hope won’t happen again in 2013, there are a few facts we have to deal with.
First, if you (like us) live in part of the US (like us) where spring is just a date on the calendar, you need to look forward.
Much as we wish we could focus on gardening, we’re still dealing with digging and plowing out our walkways and driveways. As consumers, we’re focusing on the snow predicted this week, not what we want our landscape to look like May through September. As retailers, we know the market and we are making sure that we are indeed buying what we want and/or need for the spring and summer NOW.
Moral: The Hare Doesn’t Always Win the Race.
Just because it’s still winter where you are, don’t miss the spring boatload of great new solar and other garden products!
Why: Spring in many parts of the US begins in February, and right now is when most of the best and new solar and other garden products are available.
Most of our manufacturers and distributors are already thinking about fall products, or even what they will produce and sell for spring of 2014.
Will 2013 Be As Unusual as 2012 for Solar Products?
Frankly, we just don’t know — yet.
We do acknowledge that Spring 2012 for solar and many other garden products was unusual for a few reasons. Having studied and practiced economics, I can tell you that Father Guido Sarducci (sorry you young ones), it all comes down to “Supply and Demand.”
(For purposes of this article, skip to 1:3o. For amusement, watch the whole thing. I feel old watching this and ponder the benefits of Polaroids over digital pics.)
First of all, most retailers and manufacturers didn’t have great year in 2011 due to the economy. When ordering for 2012, they didn’t expect things to turn around as much as they did. With the “Sequester” and other issues, we can honestly tell you that while some of our retailers are expecting another great year in 2013, most are far more cautious.
Compounding the unexpected spending splurge in the first part of 2012 was a work action on the west coast of the USA that prevented many items from getting from shipping to stores during the third quarter of the year.
In addition, the vast improvements both in the quality and variety of solar items continually moves forward at a rapid pace and the demand for these products reflected acknowledgement of these advances.
The result: many “hot items” sold out far more quickly than we and most other retailers could keep them in stock.
Because of many “uncertainties” regarding economy over the past few years and months, many retailers, distributors and even manufacturers likely will tend to err on the side of caution. Supply and demand for new technologies often is hard to predict.
That being said, even though you may live in the northern parts of the USA that are still experiencing harsh winter weather, other parts of the country are having normal spring.
And that doesn’t count shoppers in the Sunbelt States, Florida, or California who rarely think about winter when they want to buy things for their gardens.
What Is Likely To Sell Out Quickly in 2013
Based on demand to date, as well as our experience since we opened SolarFlairLighting.com in 2010, we expect the following items to sell out quickly this spring. Some may be available later in the summer, while others will be gone until 2013 or perhaps forever.
Solar Powered Decorative Lights, Especially Stained Glass Items
Last year, we literally sold these out in days. We ordered more this year, but still know that we don’t have enough on hand to meet the supply we had last year. These are a bit pricy, but they are truly beautiful and well-crafted items that sell out quick.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer of these products tends to always be looking towards the next season (which is not necessarily a bad thing for consumers in terms of quality, though it does mean quantity of supply suffers.) We went to get more of certain items and found that the Spring 2013 items are mostly sold out, while the Fall 2013 catelog is already available.
While we have our issues about our competitors who don’t follow Gama Sonic’s rules on MAP pricing, we’ll sell their lamps as long as they are the best solar lamps on the market today, which they are.
It is also true, however, that there is a vast difference in the quality of a light you can get for $99 bucks and one that may cost you $200.
You want a ninety dollar light? Cool, we’ll go over your options (there are a few) and what you can get for a few more bucks. Remember: our profit margin is the same if we recommend a $200 dollar light.
Last year, our solar water fountains (both straight fountains as well as combination birdbaths/fountains) literally sold out like hot cakes.
Aside: there are two types of solar water fountains. One type has a solar panel in the center of the fountain and runs directly off of the sun’s energy. The second type, often called “solar on demand” combines direct solar power with the fountain’s ability to store electrical power in a hidden battery so that the fountain works at night or during cloudy weather.
Last year was the first year that “solar on demand” fountains were widely seen. The result: older fountains that only used direct solar quickly sold out, and many haven’t returned.
While many people like the ability to have fountains that work at all times, other people didn’t (and still dont) like the cord and external solar power required by the stronger pumps. So, when the older models sold out, most were gone for good.
So did our solar water pumps. While most solar water pumps aren’t as strong as traditionally electrical powered pumps and auxiliary features, their operational costs (particularly when compared to UL-approved water pumps) truly makes them worthy of consideration.
We know, and are in the process of expanding our inventory to include a limited amount of electrical pumps because we realize that while solar pumps can help out significantly (and often pay for themselves in terms of save electrical costs in 6 months or less), they aren’t enough for the serious water gardener with an expensive collection of koi or plants.
However, even if people use just a couple of solar pumps for special effects or to supplement energy hogging pumps), they also know that they save so much money each month in electrical costs, that your water garden budget can be significantly extended.
Many of our most popular solar pest control products run out quickly, particularly our products to prevent geese from nesting and setting up house on your property, as well as our Solar Ultra Sonic Mole Chasers.
The reason these products are harder to find after the spring, and when they are available cost more is, again as Father Sarducci explained: Supply and Demand.
Simply put, more people buy pest control based on the problems they had the previous year. So, they buy mole chasers and geese control devices (and frankly, the best time to prevent geese from crapping all over your property is BEFORE they lay eggs), early in the season.
If more products are needed later in the season, the manufactures usually charge us more for them.
We don’t like it, we don’t make more profits, but it is what it is. To quote Bill Belichick, which I don’t particularly like to since I don’t particularly like him or the phrase. However, sometimes the phrase is apt.
So, we encourage you to visit SolarFlairLighting.com now and see what you may want now or later this spring. We are, as our accountant told us, “honest to a fault” and will let you know what will be around come June or August, and what may be gone in a few weeks.
Slow and steady may win the race, but you being slow and steady when you buy your solar lawn and garden products may leave you empty handed come Memorial Day when you truly start to get around to enjoying your outdoor spaces.