Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shop adventure into wholesale

Hello, I am Cassandra Johnson the new General Manager of A. Cavallo Violins, LLC. Just over one month ago I joined the team here, just as Chris ventured off to graduate school. It has been a wonderful life experiment thus far, with many things to learn and adjust to each day. Besides myself and Daniel, the summer intern joining the team, we have expanded the business from retail and online to include wholesale.

Prior to the actual instrument arrival many things were happening in the shop. Matt & Maddy vigorously re-organized the basement workshop achieving better utilization of space, labeling of parts and accessories, creative storage, tool organization, and much more. Upstairs, Daniel took on compiling a list of shops nationwide to be considered as dealers. Meanwhile, Alex and I compiled a catalog from Terms & Conditions to Inventory tables.

Within days of joining the team, boxes of violins arrived from China. We were immediately impressed with the appearance, quality, and tone of the instruments. The instruments are from a workshop that is 3 generations old, having survived time and the cultural revolution due to its locale. All wood used is from a logging operation in Tibet, owned by the same individual, and is aged and dry racked for a minimum of 10 years. Direct supervision is provided by the owner, with varnishing of the finer grade instruments completed in the United States.

Once the instruments arrived, Maddy and Matt found themselves engulfed with set-ups. Daniel, for much needed breaks from the computer, found himself in the shop polishing violins. I too, at times have found myself aiding in this step as there is simply so much to be done with a single instrument prior to sale. Maddy and Alex began discussing packing methods of fittings and instruments and arrangements were made. Time did not seem to be on our side until one Thursday evening, an hour before shop closed, Alex and I were forced into the basement for 2 hours due to severe weather which included tornadoes! During this time Alex began the inspection and completion process of the set-ups.

As time elapsed and the instrument set-ups were completed, Alex began making initial contacts with shops. This meant setting dates for the trip and making travel arrangements. It also included preparing and leaving 3 fairly new employees and an intern behind for 3 full days to manage shop!

The first trip went quite well, even though the drive was lengthened by detours due to flooding in Iowa. Now that Alex has returned we have received more violins and the entire process is beginning again... from set-ups to contacts, travel, and packing. I guess its safe to say that we have added another aspect to the everyday life of the violin shop...

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