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Martin Buckley

Location: Wales, U.K.
Joined: 23 Jul 2006

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2021 11:50 am    Post subject: Impact of Covid upon makers and manufacturers.         Reply with quote

I’m sorry if this is in the wrong place but it kind of bridges areas.

I was wondering, primarily from the point of view of makers and manufacturers of reproduction arms and armour, about the implications of Covid and knock on restrictions on their business.

Have the orders slowed down? Have predicted times for finishing orders increased? Are they suffering from a backlog of orders? Are finished product going unsold due to the financial impact of Covid upon individuals?

I ask these questions knowing the contextual information is going to differ between larger and smaller businesses and based on geography.

Thanks in advance.
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B. Stark
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Joined: 25 Jan 2004
Reading list: 11 books

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PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2021 12:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I don't work in the business directly(anymore) but I would say the impact is significant. Case in point Del Tin has ceased production for the time being, going by the statement on their page Everything has slowed. Those who are still producing depending on where have issues with supply, production and dispersal. Work spaces have had to be modified subsequent to restrictions that have been put in place.

Most of the resellers, like Kult of Athena, either are not bringing in new stock are not as much. Some of this may be due to the source manufacturers in China and India either are not producing or have limited capability. So yes, it has had a significant effect on supply. I think smaller operations that are less dependent on international shipping have not suffered near the impact larger overseas dependent supply.

"Wyrd bi∂ ful aræd"
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John Dunn

Location: Frankfort, KY
Joined: 15 Apr 2013

Posts: 157

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2021 12:49 pm    Post subject: Manufacturers         Reply with quote

It does not appear to have affected some of the higher end smiths and companies. Albion and Arms&Armor seem to be meeting their estimates in production times. I ordered a Constable and Earl from Albion last March and both arrived within the target range quoted as 9 to 11 months.

But some of the mass producers like Windlass, Del tin, etc. seem to be having more issues.
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Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin

myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2021 8:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting topic but has nothing to do with the "Historical Arms Talk" forum so I've moved it.
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Lancelot Chan
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Location: Hong Kong
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2021 8:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Large impact. Can't ship things, thus much less orders.
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Duncan Hill

Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Joined: 31 Oct 2019

Posts: 27

PostPosted: Fri 19 Feb, 2021 1:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm very new to the racket, but for me, shipping times (both inbound raw material and outbound product) have slowed, and also lockdowns in my area have made it impossible to hand-select wood for tiller construction; I've had to rely on mail ordering wood sight unseen. That said, my mail order supplier has been sending me fantastic stuff. But I'd rather choose it in person!!!!
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Holger Mahling

Location: Germany
Joined: 23 Oct 2012

Posts: 76

PostPosted: Fri 19 Feb, 2021 2:44 pm    Post subject: Shipping         Reply with quote

International shipping is an issue; i sold a VA Warder saber to USA and it took THREE month to get to the other guy; shipped it on 11th of November and it arrived yesterday! The eastern euro guys seem still producing, some have a big stock right now because of no renfaires happening.
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Jesse Belsky
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Location: Durham, NC
Joined: 12 Aug 2007

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PostPosted: Fri 19 Feb, 2021 5:04 pm    Post subject: It's a mixed bag         Reply with quote

I can only speak for myself, but it's been a bit of a mixed bag.

Sales of in-stock stuff through my website has been ok, but not as good as non-covid times. And I've lost a lot of sales opportunities that come with workshops, tournaments, etc. I usually sell in person at 4 or 5 events a year, so all those sales disappeared along with the opportunity to meet new customers.

My stage combat market has definitely cratered with all the theaters in the country closed. My non-sword making job is as a theatrical lighting designer, so I lost all that work. Fortunately I've had a lot of commissions to keep me busy.

The market for my custom work has been surprisingly good. I attribute this (my speculation only) to folks having fewer opportunities to spend their money, and thus more cash for special projects. People can't eat out, take vacations, etc, so if your paychecks are still coming in, you have more disposable income than before. Obviously not everyone is so lucky.

Sourcing materials and parts has definitely seen some delays. The machine shop I work with in China was shut down for a short while, but were back in business pretty quickly. A company in India I contracted to make me some scabbards is still shut down 12 months later. Prices on raw materials has gone up for sure.

I buy some of my blades from commercial manufacturers (Hanwei, Cold Steel, Windlass, etc) and those supply chains have been disrupted. Inventory through Hanwei in China has recovered much more quickly that Windlass in India, which I imagine reflects how those countries have been able to respond to the pandemic. Even when those manufacturers can produce stuff, getting it here is harder: Covid has also caused huge delays at ports and freight terminals--goods shipped here from overseas have been piling up in American warehouses due to reduced consumer spending, and so when new ships arrive there's nowhere for them to unload goods.

Overseas air freight costs have also skyrocketed--my understanding of this is that a lot of international air freight moves around in the unused cargo space of commercial passenger flights. With so many fewer passenger flights in the air, there's much less available cargo space so it's coming at a huge premium.

I buy blades from several makers in the UK/EU/Eastern Europe, and shipping price increases have been substantial. If it costs $100 to ship a $200 sword blade, I have to pass that on to my customers which they do not enjoy.....

Domestic shipping has also been a mess. My longest delay was 38 days it took a pair of swords to go from Washington DC to Philadelphia PA vis USPS priority mail. That said, stuff does arrive eventually, and I appreciate that demand on shipping carriers has been crazy.

On the positive side of things, people have been spending a lot of time on social media communicating and sharing and pursuing their hobbies. Virtual workshops and Zoom classes have brought people into the sword community who weren't able to access those kinds of gatherings, and we've all been spending more time watching tv and movies. People are really excited to get back to HEMA clubs and stage combat classes and Ren Faires and all that good stuff, so hopefully they will be able to bring some of their hard earned money with them and help keep the maker community afloat.
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Craig Johnson
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Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 20 Feb, 2021 5:32 am    Post subject: Covid Times         Reply with quote

I would agree with much of what the others have stated. Shipping is a mess and especially postal. We were starting to use them alot more for the months prior to the new postmaster and after that disaster now only when we have to. Delivery delays on product sent and supplies being up and down with availability from even large sources like Home Despot and Ace. Shipping raw materials has also been affected.

Customers have been great and very understanding with problems and delays. Some of our direct suppliers have had to close and open due to different infection incidents and shutdowns. In general turn around times have doubled, tripled and in one case quadrupled, all of which messes something fierce with work flow. We feel bad about those who have had to freeze projects or cancel due to life changes, we will be here in the future for you when things get better.

In shop we have had varying degrees of availability to work and keep things moving. We only had one or two weeks of pure shut down, but some was just a skeleton crew committed to quarantine from the rest of the world to keep things moving. Still trying to get everything going smoothly on all cylinders.

Social media and communication has been way up from customers, I suppose most folks with more time on their hands to ponder, plan and query about new and existing projects. We have done our best to keep up spending way more time doing this but have probably missed a few so apologies if your still waiting to hear back from us on something. Email is definitely better than social media for order communication.

Biggest shift has been how/what do we plan for? Will there be more orders with stimulus, will the shows that do try to run be attended, will there be certain shows, will sales at shows have different patterns? Your guess is as good as mine and I suspect there will be good and bad surprises.

I agree with Jess that the online community seems to be strong with content generation and a distinct shift to online events I think is here to stay for a while if not longer as travel I suspect will be more expensive going forward no matter what for several years at least. There have been so many good ones I have not been able to consume all I have wanted to.

Anyway thats my 2 cents worth and we really thank all the customers who have stepped up to keep their craftspeople of any ilk going and working you are heros to us.


PS oh and one other thing paypal just cut us off as we somewho violate some user agreement of theirs more than other blade smith's. Go figure, digital company with little or no customer care and after you get to a certain level of why are you doing this they only communicate via mail to corporate WTF?! But if your a maker and use them get all your funds out each day or two at most. If they shut you down they freeze your funds in their account for 180 days. Just sayin.
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Glen A Cleeton

Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,943

PostPosted: Sat 20 Feb, 2021 11:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is third hand information regarding Del Tin. Going by that source (email or phone) Fulvio had a hand or arm injury and that is the cause for the pause.

RE the USPS, these past months have been trying. Coast to coast in record time but the internal ground terminals are waiting to fill trucks before dispatching. Stuff at the front of trucks doing loopy loops on their way. The past week seems a little better but I await a repeat order shipped from VA to RI. The last time it took Priority to take ten calendar days (one Monday holiday). It eventually got to CT but then went to Boston and on to Maine. Back to Boston and then out to Springfield, MA. Another day wait before reaching Providence, RI and I received it to the north of the state the next day. Texas and Arizona to RI, silence for stuff not labeled Priority and then more than two weeks and the one in December, all month.

I honesty hope for the best regardless of the carrier and it varies for me here. My UPS driver has a "busy" attitude. Fedex deliveries stellar and my local USPS going the extra mile at times (small town).

Bless this mess.

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