Written by : Posted on March 19, 2020 : No Comments
My son, Angus, wrapped a used mask from his new day job around our bust of Aesculapius, a.k.a., Asclepius, the Greek god of the healing arts. The bust is a plaster cast of a marble head excavated from the Temple of Jupiter and it – the century-old cast – was used by a Philadelphia area art college until they stopped teaching traditional, Bargue-esque sight-size, drawing courses. We discovered the bust at an antique shop and picked it up for home-school art classes. These days Aesculapius watches over a corner of my office, our apotropaic charm against Covid-19. (The previous statement has not been evaluated by the FDA; use such charms against disease entirely at your own risk)

New Note 9/25/20. Time flies when life is extra chaotic! This brief note is just to let everyone know that we are back to running open warehouse Saturdays once a month at the Peak Bamboo mill house. For any given month, we’ll arrange the date with the first interested maker, then as other makers express an interest in visiting, we’ll figure out the time slots. Normally we offer 30 minute pick-up windows with 15 minutes of buffer between the windows. You might arrive to find another maker strapping cane to a roof rack, but rarely are there two makers tripping over each other in the warehouse. Space is very tight between bamboo & tools, which is why we were doing appointment windows even before Corona afflicted the world. We have no mask requirements. Wear one if you feel better doing so, or don’t wear one and you’ll fit right in.

New Note 5/16/20. Hey there, we’re still ticking along here in Pennsylvania – healthy and busy. There’s a bitter dispute between our County level government, which claims we’re re-opening on Monday the 18th of May, and our State level government, which has condemned the County-wide rejection of PA’s onerous shut down regulations. At present, GW remains open as an E-commerce business. We are now scheduling curbside pick-up of bamboo orders. This is a nothing-fancy way to save on shipping if you’re local enough to drive to the warehouse, but we are not yet having clients inside the warehouse, so you don’t get to pick your culms.

Huge thank you to everyone who has been supporting our business these past few months. We’re busy, but not as busy as usual….haven’t been posting the ‘Patience’ slider on the website very often. Drake & I are pushing forward with a lot of new projects that you’ll hear more about in the coming months…the new Hydro-Welded guide frames, new stone rings, and Drake’s ambitious plot to push me toward a subscription-based streaming educational program, The Atelier at Golden Witch. Drake is working on a new website now, which, once it is live, will feature all our DVD content as streamable material, plus we’ll be adding at least four or five 5-7 minute instructional videos, and accompanying PDF documents, each month. We’ll explore four main subject areas: Rodmaking (alternate ways to skin each cat, e.g., heating & pressing nodes vs. grinding the nodes off with a belt sander); Componentry (hook tenders to agate guides in a three year skill-building progression); Restoration Work; and an Et Cetera section where I can rant about rod warranties, discuss customer service, and expound on ways to banish encroaching corrosion from your tools. Should be interesting, and it’s a way for Drake to earn some funds now that the virus has really put a damper on his music performance business.

Tying back into my thanks to each of you for supporting GW, I want to share with you what we’ve been doing with funds you share with us. Quoting a recent email I sent: Your business really means a lot, to us and to our suppliers.  I was discussing ‘the velocity of money’ with another client this morning.  He’s momentarily furloughed, but making the most of his down time by building rods…and supporting the shops who help him.  In turn, we are spinning our shop income around and very consciously working to place orders with every one of our US suppliers; our US-based importers; and then our overseas suppliers…. I just thought you might like knowing that your orders are helping one heck of a lot more folks than just my little crew here at GW.  The goal isn’t merely to survive this virus, as a business, it’s to help our suppliers to survive because otherwise there is no business.  So rather than crunching up like a dying spider, we’re very actively pushing ourselves to spend the money that comes in, on inventory and on tools to go along with some works in progress that should come to fruition later this year.  Thank you.

New Note 4/28/20. Hello Folks. The GW shop is open following our recent closure, and we’re responding to emails and working on orders that arrived before the closure started. We’ve had requests from makers who would like to pick up bamboo. We will open the warehouse again – on Saturday mornings, by appointment – after Governor Wolf ends the lock down on Lancaster County, PA. Until then, we’re offering a great price on A grade ten packs…see the note further below this one, which has a link to the sale. This “12 for 10” sale will end as soon as the lock down ends. We’re all healthy, and hope you and your families are, too. While you’re here, this is as good a place as any to let you know that we’ve added info on how to determine ferrule station sizes if you’re working with regular Step Down or Restoration Step Down ferrules (thanks to Steve B. for asking the right question!). There’s also a new ramble on the Elusive Quad Guide if you want to read something while you enjoy your morning coffee or your late afternoon beer.

Also worth noting, I up-dated the “About GW” page recently.  If you’re familiar with the website, you know how it goes.  Once I start typing, I tend to keep typing.  It’s a disease.  The new “About” text gives some sense for where GW is headed next.  By year’s end there will be a range of new guides.  Beyond that?  Who knows where the new tools will lead.  You can read more, here.

New Note 4/7/20. Hi Folks…please be sure you read the notes below this one as I won’t be repeating previous, but still important, info. Our county, Lancaster, is now under something like a ‘shelter in place’ lock down. Thankfully, the US Postal Service and UPS are both operating, so nothing has changed for the business. We’re still making and shipping product, and shipping bamboo from our warehouses. We are extremely grateful to all the rodmakers who are sending orders through the shop, keeping the company, and thus a few individuals, above water. Still, sales are down from normal – as anyone would expect in the time of corona – and that fact has brought on an enhanced bamboo sale. Here’s the sale details:

“12 for 10” – Starting 4/7/20 ONLY on the A Grade 10 Pack, and ONLY if you order the culms cut in half, not thirds, you are welcome to request “12 for 10” in the comments section and we’ll ship you twelve sticks when you purchase a ten pack.  If you don’t request the spare culms, please don’t expect us to ship them because we’ll assume you didn’t want them.  We can’t offer this deal if you order thirds because the spare culms are too bulky for the boxes.  Yes, you’ll pay a smidgen more for UPS Ground shipping if you choose 12 for 10, but not much since the box size isn’t changing, only the weight on a package that is already ‘oversize’ by UPS standards.  Why are we doing this?  Because we have literally tons of A grade bamboo still in the warehouses and this virus lock-down is hurting sales.  We need to create a win-win scenario for our clients and ourselves in order to drive enough bamboo out the door to keep paying the leases on two warehouses.  Your order of a ten pack of A Grade bamboo will actively help Golden Witch & Peak Bamboo to keep our corporate head above water in the time of Corona.  Don’t forget, when you order ANY ten pack of bamboo, you get a better coupon set in your Peak Bamboo “Thank You” pack, including one for 25% off a bag of cork.  We make it easy to recoup the shipping costs on your bamboo when you use the coupons we send.  Yet another win-win situation.  This extra “12 for 10” sweetener for the bamboo sale will be in place only until the lock down lifts across the country and our sales bounce back to something approaching normal.  Domestic, Continental U.S. sales only for the 12 for 10 offer.

New Note 3/24/20. First and foremost, please take care of yourself and your family. As anyone with first-responder or wilderness adventure training knows, the most important thing in an emergency is to keep yourself safe. This is not selfishness, it’s practical. If you are not physically able to help yourself, you are also unable to help your family members, your neighbors, and your friends. If you are in part the country (or the world) not yet suffering from lock downs, please take the time and spend the money to build yourself and your family a buffer. If you don’t have it already, you should immediately buy several weeks worth of supplies for normal living – advance spending on stuff you’ll use up, not wasted spending on a lifetime supply of toilet paper. I’d also suggest buying seeds, seed potatoes, and whatever else you need to get a garden started. We planted seeds and put them under lights yesterday. Here in Pennsylvania we are under a partial or total lock down, depending on county, and the grocery stores are more or less depleted, depending on which store you visit and what product you think you need. Steph & I can tell you that we have seen ZERO evidence of this virus in our corner of PA…news stories, yes, but no-one we know has been afflicted…yet we are seeing the effect of the virus on society and these effects are very real. Even if you’re in the ‘it’s just a flu’ mindset, please make an effort to prepare for bare shelves at the grocery. After you and your family have food security, then, yes, we’d love to earn some of your business, but your family must come first.

After some hesitation because of the potential penalties, we are back open for business under the provision of the Pennsylvania order that allows the continued operation of e-commerce businesses even during the shut down of all non-essential businesses. Though there is some dispute, we may also be allowed to operate under the provision that considers “Fishing” businesses to be open because they are essential; food is certainly essential and you can catch a fish with fishing tackle…we think fishing is also essential because it gets folks outdoors in the fresh air and sun, and yet it is a largely solitary endeavor…what better way to engage in social distancing while exercising (wading can be serious exercise) and while providing food for yourself and your loved ones (yes, even die hard catch & release fishermen may want to bring the stringer along in the time of Corona). Anyway, we’re open for the time being. Please pay for your orders using PayPal so we can make prompt refunds if we’re out of stock on an item (more details in the 3/19/20 note below this). Please understand that some of our supply partners are facing difficulties sourcing or manufacturing their products. As I type this, silks from Asia and metal guides from Asia (snakes, some all-metal strippers) are in short supply and cannot be restocked at all in certain cases. To give one specific example, as of today Pacific Bay has had their operation entirely closed down by Washington State government, so they are not shipping orders even if they have inventory. Suffice to say, this is a challenging time. On the positive side, we have substantial in-house inventory and may be able to supply your needs.

If you order, please understand that between the time you place your order and the time we ship your order, the rules in Pennsylvania may change. Six counties, thankfully not Lancaster County where we are located, have come under “shelter in place” rules. If that happens here, we’ll keep making parts to fill orders, but we may be unable to ship (even this is iffy, because if the Feds keep the Post Office open, we may be allowed to call for pick up). Really, we’re just taking one day at a time and hoping we can remain a viable business until this plague lifts. Your support, patience, and understanding is vastly appreciated! -Russ

New Note 3/19/20. We’ll update any time we have more info to pass along.

Hello Golden Witch & Peak Bamboo clients.  At this point, everyone knows: The Corona Virus is up-ending all our lives.  My adult sons have both lost their jobs, but still have some pick-up work as bamboo orders roll in.  Thank you bamboo buyers! My high school girls are out of school, officially for two weeks.  My wife’s job as a public school administrator is contingent on whether or not the state determines that she is an essential worker – and if she isn’t, well that would mean the kids aren’t going back to school any time soon.  Around us, folks in the construction industry are laying off staff because their clients are calling a halt to work.  A friend in the graphics arts business has had clients tell him to stop working on their projects.  Everyone is starting to hunker down.These are uncertain times.  Due to Pennsylvania’s semi-lockdown (non-essential retail businesses and everyone in the food & beverage industry who can’t provide take-out or delivery options has been asked to close up for the moment), we are no longer hosting visits at the Peak Bamboo millhouse.  We are, however, still cutting and packing Peak Bamboo and we’ll ship bamboo as long as UPS will accept our boxes for delivery.  On the GW end, we’re still making guides and shipping product every day. We’re running two to three weeks out on orders with custom products; most orders with no custom items are shipping in about two business days.

Here at GW & Peak, I’m hunting for silver linings in the clouds.  For one thing, we’re mostly e-commerce, so we can continue to sell product.  For another, more and more of our clients are spending time at home and for many of you that means more time at the bench.  I heard from one part time rodmaker that he’s fortunate to have orders on his bench because the hours  at his day job were reduced.  Maybe more folks staying home from work will lead to a spike in fishing hours and more anglers will find themselves in need of a fine fishing rod to help them while away their quarantine days.  Surely it’s healthier to spend these days on the water than cooped up in a building.  If all of you can find enough reasons to keep making rods, for pleasure or for sale, we’ll do our very best to stay open so we can supply you with raw material and parts.  As I’ve told a few folks this week: so long as our income exceeds our expenses, we’ll stay open.  Of course the flip side to that is if sales tumble too far (yes, they are tumbling), then GW will enter a – hopefully brief– closure.  We can weather a storm, but it may be prudent to turn off the website and focus on the garden if things are too slow.  If we close down temporarily, we will still get all the standing orders out the door before we turn off the lights – this won’t be like vacation where we work up to a certain date then leave for a week.  We’ll get the parts made and shipped.

Please, please use PayPal to pay for your orders during this odd time.  We’re just starting to see supply chain disruptions and we can only issue prompt refunds on out of stock products (mostly silk at the moment) if you pay with PayPal.  If you pay by credit card, the card data is immediately wiped when the transaction clears…great for financial security, but a royal PITA when it comes to issuing refunds.

Please be patient and kind if the government shuts down delivery services like the U.S. Postal Service or UPS.  We will ship orders as rapidly as humanly possible and if there is an interruption, we’ll alert you and we’ll pick up where we left off as soon as services resume.  If you are ordering a mix of custom and non-custom items, you might consider placing separate orders so that the non-custom items can ship promptly, with the custom stuff following as soon as we’re able to get it crafted.

If you have questions, never hesitate to email before you order.   Thanks so much for your business!  From all of us at GW & Peak, please stay safe and healthy.  Enjoy any quarantine down time with your family.  Go fishing.  Find silver linings.



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