When will this item be in stock ?

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When will this item be in stock ?

Post by exxos » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:18 pm

I get asked this almost every day. It's a valid question, but also near impossible to answer.

The short answer is, I have no idea! Keep an eye on my store and on this forum for news and updates of what I am working on each day/week. That is the best answer I can give sorry!

I will try and explain it all below...
If I order PCB's for something, its 2-3 weeks wait. Then can be 2 weeks+ for building and testing, depending on how complex the kit is. Sometimes it can take several months before some appears in stock. Reason mostly is time, then costs involved and other reasons. Such as, for example, parts I use in my kits become discontinued in Farnell etc, or the manufacture discontinues them. This means I have to wade thought 100's of parts to find an alternative, which can take a few hours! Can be multiple reasons why the delay..

Problem is, as I said for the past 2 years, I am struggling to keep up with items I sell in my store. Simply because of the huge amounts of time it all takes up. Obviously I can only build one item at a time (though it never goes that simple) so if 5 items go out of stock same day, then only 1 item will be back in stock within the next few days/weeks. Some items are quicker to get back in stock than others. So programming a ROM will appear faster in stock than the PSU's for example. So I will do the quicker ones first.

I work from top to bottom of my "out of stock list" constantly. I build up batches of 10-25 normally, they go in stock and everyone is happy. Then I go onto the next item to re-stock.. and the next and the next.. by which time, the first items in my list are back out of stock again. So its unlikely everything I sell will ever be in stock at the same time. Some people unfortunately moan about this, well, it's only going to get worse the more items I am producing.

Then people say, why I don't build up larger batches.. well, if I built up 500 PSUs so they would never run out of stock anytime soon, well, likely 100 other items will be out of stock until they appear, and the only thing I will have in stock is 500 PSU's. Plus I don't have the funds to build high volumes of stuff, and as retro computing is unstable in terms of how long stuff will ultimately sell for, I am not willing to take the risk of huge stocks on items which may never sell. I am basically sinking around £1,000-£2,000 each month just buying parts! So I am not going to spend double that for more items. If I had that much free cash lay around I would retire! A few months ago when I added things up, I had spent around £21,000 on Atari related stuff! This is just to keep the items I have in my store in stock.. or not in stock as it mostly is.

To double the stock, double the costs, get around £40,000, plus I would need to employ someone to help, so add some more onto that price.. This is where I am at with it all. While I am getting a lot of sales lately (thanks to all those who support me!) I doubt I am going to be making £40,000+ a year in sales. So I have no choice but to operate how I do and try and balance my books with it all. I invest cash and time into my current stocks and new hardware development. Its not easy to make all these choices and keep track of it all.

There are always times where I get no store sales at all and cash stops coming in, so cash going out stops also. If I need to buy 50 transformers at £10 a go, and don't have £500 in my account, then they don't get purchased until enough store sales come in to allow me to buy the transformers. Anyones guess how long that would be. Could be days, weeks or months.

There is also the "Boredom factor". Some stuff ends up taking a long time where I have to build it for stock. It is why I mostly sell kits because I don't have time to build kits up. Even when I do, after building 50 of something, it just becomes a bore and would rather do something else for a while instead. Though I am trying to get stuff manufactured to save me weeks worth of soldering.. but this is huge costs again. My store doesn't make enough cash to be able to bulk make many items. I don't make huge profits on my kits, and higher productions costs make it near impossible to sustain and sort of profit to invest in other things. All this stuff costs a minimum of £1,000 per kit just in parts, or assembly costs. Costs soon ramp up so I have to make careful choices on where to spend my store revenue. Keeping track of every pcb, every part, every sale, is a fulltime job by itself!

Also there are time limits. I do have a day job! and I am spending several hours or more each day on this Atari stuff already. I simply do not have anymore time to do anything else! This leaves near zero time to work on new hardware, people know how slow my booster work has become over the past year, plus multiple other projects which have grinded to a halt. Just no free time left!

Mix into all this I am doing a lot of machine repairs also which takes up even more time. I've repaired several falcons and a few ST's this past year. All takes time. Plus various repairs to kits which people have broken and loads of other things. So time for doing stock items is even less and is getting less all the time.

As many know, I have RSI in my fingers, It really hurts like hell to type, and I am trying to avoid it now and use voice recognition, which is good, but also takes a long time to correct the words it gets wrong. So replying to emails or messages is slowing down, in part due to time restrictions also. But this is why I started this forum for one thing. So people can here communicate and see whats going on each week, so people don't have to keep emailing me. Of course emails take up time also, and if I can reduce "general" questions, then its more time to actually work on items for my store etc.

I do get some emails asking about me upgrading machines.. well, each time I add it up, its normally ends up around £200-£300 worth of work. So I just don't tend to price anything up anymore. People are keen to have all fancy stuff, but when they see the cost, they never do. A lot of kits have to be built up first, then tested, then fitted to the motherboard and re-tested. It ends up taking a whole week worth of time, hence the costs involved. Also, I just do not have time to upgrade whole machines. I have been wanting to sell upgraded machines for years, but never get enough free time to do it. If I do , then I would have to stop repairing peoples machines and stop developing new hardware to generate time for it.

Similar I get asked a lot, "can I remake this or that project/item".. Well yes I could, but no I won't as I simply do not have time. I would love to make every hardware item under the sun, but it's not realistic for me to take on even more work. My head is spinning enough each day with what I am doing already. I am also totally out of space here also. I cannot keep track of all the components for all the projects I have now. Its just piles of boxes everywhere. Each time I start re-stocking something, I have to spend a day looking for all the bits.

Please don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about people emailing asking me things etc.. Though these questions comes up over and over. So I hope this post will save me repeating myself and explain why things are always out of stock for a long time :) I am trying my best to keep up.. but I am only one person after all :)
4MB STFM 1.44 FD- VELOCE+ 020 STE - 4MB STE 32MHz - STFM 16MHz - STM - MEGA ST - Falcon 030 CT60 - Atari 2600 - Atari 7800 - Gigafile - SD Floppy Emulator - PeST - HxC - CosmosEx - Ultrasatan - various clutter

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