Upcoming Shop Closures & Order Notes
Please Read Carefully – A Lot Has Changed!
New (Updated) Note As Of 10/27/22. The top portion is the most up-to-date bit:
Golden Witch & Peak Bamboo are now CLOSED for regular web-store orders. This is more or less permanent; we may re-open in 2024 from our remote location, so please keep tabs on the website. Thanks to everyone for a wonderful run! As I’ve told many rodmakers, I’ll be back. Once Steph & I relax a bit, one of my first projects will be working on a how-to component making book. I’m also considering a mentorship program on the island to help transfer some of my skills to a younger generation. We’ll see…there are so many possible paths.
DON’T PANIC. That’s good advice written in big, friendly letters. If you already ordered, you’ll get your stuff. I’m still working behind the scenes, packing up component and bamboo orders. The goal is to ship all the current standing orders before we fly down to Curacao for our next visit in mid-November.
If you still need large amounts of stuff, please email. What is a large amount? An order over $1000.00 after all discounts would qualify. Read our ferrule pages to see what we’re offering in terms of bulk purchase deals. Typically if you want to buy $1200+ of in-stock ferrules, I’ll cut an additional 15% off the already low sale prices. Those orders are easy to pick and help me convert inventory to dollars, so they’re a win-win scenario. I’m also continuing to sell “Unique Items” such as art, big tools, tackle, etc. Watch the Unique Items page linked on the front page of the site and reach out if you want something; I’ll be listing more items next week. Big head’s up: please don’t email while we’re out of the country as your email will be lost in the deluge. Email now through 11/1/22; hold off 11/2 – 11/6; try again 11/7 – 11/10, hold off 11/11 – 11/21, and try again 11/22 – 12/12. This schedule is continuing to dance around a bit as I sort out moving & residency issues. Be patient and kind. I’ll be happy to help as I have the time, and if I have the inventory. Please understand that I am not servicing small orders any longer. If you need smaller amounts of stuff, please get five of your best rodmaking friends together and have one of your group email me about a bulk purchase.
Lots more to write about, but right now I have orders to pack. Enjoy your rodmaking!
The Golden Witch Shop is TEMPORARILY Open. I plan to keep the shop open until October 31, 2022 UNLESS our home/shop goes under contract. Once the house is under contract, Golden Witch will be permanently closed for regular webstore orders. Don’t worry – if you’ve ordered, I’ll get your order packed and shipped. Even if the house is not under contract, we’ll close November 1 – November 21 because I’ve got to catch up on orders (they’re crushing me – thank you!), and I need to scoot down to our other house and continue working on setting that up. On the off chance that this Pennsylvania property has not gone under contract by November 21, I’ll re-open for a few more weeks…but don’t hold your breath. If you need stuff – like BULK FERRULES – please order ASAP.
Hugely important: after the webstore is turned off, I will still be accepting large orders by email to clear out major swathes of inventory. If the webstore closes this week or next, send me an email if you need over $1200.00 of ferrules or something like that. I can still write up PayPal invoices and ship stuff, but I won’t be managing small orders any longer. Just to add to the confusion, I won’t be able to respond to business emails while I’m out of the country, so please don’t email from November 10 – November 21; just wait until I’m back.
We’re not dead yet! Folks, there is apparently some confusion. Golden Witch is NOT permanently closed at this time. For the moment, the expected final day of business is 12/14/22…but it could be sooner. Sooner? When our Pennsylvania home goes under contract, I’ll turn off GW, ship the rest of the orders, then pack up the remaining inventory until I find a buyer for the parts (the company is no longer for sale since I don’t have time to train new owners). When we are closed for good, we’ll change the slider on the front page of the website to make this glaringly obvious. For now, please buy parts. These sales are my contribution to our retirement fund since Steph is the one who held a real job and has a pension. The deals get better every week. GW has a lot of non-custom inventory to clear. You have opportunities to stock up on obscure, interesting, and worthwhile parts at increasingly sweet prices. If you wait too long for better prices, then you’ll miss out because the catch is two-fold: either a) the items of a given format/size will sell out as many already have, or b) the shop will simply be turned off one morning and that’s that. I’ve actually had some makers tell me they’re waiting for me to further reduce prices on ferrules. I might. I might not. Bear in mind that I’ve made a fair portion of my living over the years selling vintage, NOS, parts. There’s not a doubt in my mind that holding onto top-shelf ferrules and other quality parts represents a sound, long-term investment.
GW has stopped accepting guide orders. We’re getting closer to selling our home & shop, so at some point in the very near future, I need to stop making things and clean up my work space. That entails packing up one heck of a lot of tools. We still have gobs of vintage parts, new ferrules, tenders, winding checks, and all kinds of other stuff to sell. Watch our unique items page, too, as I’ll be selling more stuff there as we wrap up. This week I plan to list some art – one of a kind original paintings, some of which were used as GW catalog cover images.
Don’t fret…if you order, I will ship your stuff or I’ll cut you a refund if it’s out of stock. When I do turn off the webstore later this year, I’ll continue working until I’ve shipped the final orders.
Thanks for your support!
-Russ & family
9/16/22: We are closing later this year, but we’re not permanently closed yet. We are moving overseas. Negotiations have ended. We’re officially buying a house on Curacao. Please consider all non-custom parts and all bamboo to be FINAL INVENTORY. All sales are final – no returns accepted unless I goof an order. I’ll stop accepting orders for all custom items shortly. Today I closed off Jewelry Grade Parts and many/most/all of the finish upgrade options on ferrules, reel seat hardware, and other items. Current plans will see me taking a year-long sabbatical while I wrap up orders, pack the GW shop, ship the shop by freighter, get it through customs, and then set everything back up. At most, I will continue to make custom guides and a few other components for export. At least, I’ll be working on a how-to component making book. If you need supplies for your shop, please gather them now. We’re closing out SKUs every day, largely through natural attrition. When we close up shop in mid-December, I don’t plan to re-open until 2024. Thanks to everyone for your support over the past couple decades!
Wonderful Clients: Please check out our Unique Items page, linked from the front of the website. Some really cool odds and ends have sold already, and I’m about to list more – including one of a kind Golden Witch artifacts such as hand-painted signs. When you make a purchase from this group of rare items, you are actively helping Steph & I to fund our semi-retirement endeavors. These are, generally speaking, the things I’d never sell…if I was staying stateside, or if any of my kids wanted to take over GW I’d keep most of this stuff. Since we’re moving overseas and don’t want to pay to keep stuff in storage, we’re going the other route and we’re working to turn almost the entirety of our ‘first’ life into the support system for our ‘second’ life. Thank You.
7/8/22: Super quick, and superseding all the blather further below: I think it’s now too late to sell GW. I don’t have time to train someone. Steph & I are in the (long, drawn out) process of buying a home overseas and we’ll be wrapping up our careers here in the US as rapidly as possible. In early fall, if not sooner, I’ll be ending custom parts sales for the time being. I’ll be focusing on clearing out our bamboo and non-custom parts inventory by December 14th. We’ll be taking one more family vacation in December, since it’s already booked, then, we hope, moving by late January. This is about six months sooner than anticipated, but finding an ideal home mucked up our neatly organized plans. Because the company didn’t sell, I will probably re-open GW from overseas, but in a considerably limited format, focusing primarily on custom parts and, perhaps, know-how. More when I know more. It’s been a week.
AUSTRALIAN CLIENTS: Please take note, that as of 9/27/21 the US Postal Service has ended their Priority Mail International service to Australia. In order to get tracked and insured service, we are now forced to use Priority Mail EXPRESS service. Our web store is not set up to charge separate rates for each individual country, so I’m posting this note prominently and in several places on the website. The MINIMUM shipping charge to Australia, which only includes $200.00 in insurance, with extra insurance available based on your order size, is now $75.00. This is regrettable, but until the USPS reinstates regular Priority Mail International service, it’s what we all have to deal with. The webstore will charge you a lesser international shipping fee when you check out (on orders over $250.01, which is the new minimum to process an international order…thank the EU for that change; international orders below $250.01 will not process through the webstore). I will then send a PayPal invoice to cover the balance due for shipping and insurance. Very sorry about this. It came as a total surprise to me and, as it turns out, to our local Postmaster. Also, as a blanket note to other overseas clients…if the USPS drops PMI to your nation, we will be forced to bill you the additional cost to use PM EXPRESS because we can’t stay in business if we are forced to absorb these added shipping costs. Thanks for your understanding during this unprecedented time.
Please read the new note, or expect to suffer the consequences of your self-imposed refusal to know what you might have known. I take the time to write this stuff primarily for the benefit of my clients, secondarily for the benefit of my staff and myself.
Thank you all so much for your support – it is immensely appreciated! We’re hard at work in the time of corona. Excepting our regular shop closures, GW & Peak Bamboo are open for e-commerce business. This new letter features shop closure updates; clearly stated shop rules; Arrivals & Departures; and an opportunity you probably weren’t expecting.
Hey Folks, We are OPEN from 8/9/22/22 at 6AM EST until 9/16/22 at 5 PM EST. As always, we’ll be closed for about ten days every five weeks or so. If the shop remains overwhelmingly busy, I’ll tuck in intermediate ‘catch-up’ closures when the shop will be turned off for ordering. We will be closing for the final time as a full time operation on or about December 14th of 2022 and we’ll be traveling through Christmas break so no-one will be working behind the scenes during this span. When we return, we pack, then we leave permanently. Golden Witch will not be open in 2023. The final date to order custom products will be on – or prior to – September 16th, 2022; we’ve already put many custom products on ‘Pause’. When Golden Witch does re-open in 2024 (yes, we’re taking a year-long sabbatical to get moved and re-orient our lives), it will be on a limited production basis. I’ll write more about our impending transition to semi-retirement elsewhere on the site. I plan to do a lot more writing, fishing, hunting, canoeing, biking, sailing, and making all the stuff I’ve put off for too long. For her part, Steph plans to run marathons in strange places – starting with a long run in Curacao in the fall of 2023. I’ll cheer from the sidelines.
Thanks in advance for your patience (there’s that word again) as we all adjust to the fact that Drake left the company to pursue college & adventuring full time (he was in a intensive University of Pennsylvania coding seminar, but since it was on-line he opted to take the class from an outpost in southern Mexico where he could dive in his free time; expense-wise it wasn’t much of a toss up between a month of rent in Philly vs. a full summer on the shady outskirts of a tropical resort town; since that finished up, he moved to northern Alaska.) Golden Witch and Peak Bamboo are essentially a one-man, two-ring circus. It’s an opportunity begging for someone, or some two, young and highly motivated, to step in as the new Ringmaster(s). See below for more on this thread of thought. To update his whereabouts, Drake returned from Mexico when the cartel got more active in and around Playa Del Carmen, and he talked a lodge in the Arctic Circle of Alaska into hiring him as a full time chef. He left in early January for four months in ghastly cold weather, then maybe he will return to finish up college around working on his pilot’s license. Or something.
Golden Witch Is Transitioning. The good news for everyone is that the company has no plans to compete against biological females in any girls’ or women’s sports league. Writing as the father of two young ladies, now adults, who have both been involved in competitive athletics, I believe it is important that we allow real women to have their own space to excel that is free from previously-male interlopers. Switching gears: Of great importance to all our clients, more and more of whom are hearing rumors of GW’s impending changes, is an update on the status of the shop. It’s true, we’re transitioning – from a full-time endeavor through mid-December of 2022, to part-time going forwards, and with a big move in between the two phases. Right now, I’m calling this up-coming down-time a ‘sabbatical.’ For at least 9 months, I won’t be making parts, shipping parts, or responding to company email – which doesn’t mean I won’t be working, but I’ll be working on packing, moving, unpacking, & setting up shop in a foreign country.
My wife is able to retire in the first half of 2023. Barring unforeseen roadblocks, she plans to take this opportunity. I intend to join her. This means that GW is going to sell down a lot of inventory in 2022. I intend to close out our bamboo inventory, all products that expire (varnish, etc.), products with inventory troubles (YLI silks), all bluing solutions, anything that has been a slow seller, plus other stuff I just want behind me. I have decided to sell down or out of most components and many of our critical rodmaking tools. Some stuff, will not go on sale because, through the natural order of things, I’ll be sold out simply by not re-stocking. Don’t wait around hoping for better deals – many of the deals are already posted and stuff is quickly selling out. Policy Note: if a product says “Final Inventory” on its webpage, then all sales of that product are final, no returns – that’s the minor risk you assume when buying a close-out product, often at discount.
Assuming I’ve cleared out the excess inventory by year’s end of ’22, we will turn off the webstore when we leave on vacation in mid-December. In early 2023, I’ll only turn the store back on if I need to continue the inventory reduction. By the final day of March of ’23 at the latest, the store will be closed as we start the real transition – packing up the house & shop, and closing out the final warehouse spaces. Our home in PA will go on the market in April and we hope to have it sold by the time my wife works her final day in June. After that, we’re headed even farther south than we originally anticipated (empty-nesters for the first time in over two decades, but with adult kids who are excited to visit us in our new location). As I’ve shared with some of our clients who’ve emailed recently, we’ll be resettling in Curacao – our favorite spot (so far) that we’ve found on this planet. Please, expect that we’ll be closed for at least 9 months, possibly as long as 12-18 months, because if I’m going to continue with GW from the tropics, I have to get all my tools and raw materials on a boat, through customs, and set up again – and all that work will only be a part-time concern. I’d appreciate it if you’d use our shop now to stock up ahead of this long closure window. Make use of our sale prices on Final Inventory items, but also invest in a few extra sets of ferrules, guides sets, and cork rings and make use of our free domestic shipping rates on larger small-parts orders. Believe me, if the company hasn’t sold, we will need your support as we reduce our inventory – both to simplify the move, and to free up inventory dollars so we can build the new shop space. I could very easily be making and selling components for another ten or twenty years if no-one buys GW. One way or another, the company is a portion of my retirement plan. The good news is that after this year I don’t need to work full-time. If we re-open, figure the shop & webstore will be available to rodmakers at most six months per year around our retirement travels. I’m also going to stop working on weekends, and the backlog for custom parts will grow as long as it happens to grow because I’m going to end my practice of burning the candle at both ends, from before dawn to long past dinner.
Lots more to share as we move forward. Expect to see more of my writing, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I’m making slow but real progress on a how-to component book and on a book that speaks more generally to craftsmanship as a worthy lifestyle and/or hobby choice. If I make time to sift through two decades worth of emails (only some of which weren’t eaten by computer crashes), I might sort out a compilation of rodmaking advice as a more casual complement to the many great rodmaking books on the market. Several novels are in progress, too, but who know what will happen with them. As some of you who’ve gotten to know me personally might understand, I’m not using a computer for all this writing. I run out the first draft material on stacks of notebooks, often with a fountain pen. Second drafts are typed on one of my several manual typewriters (I type fast and rather poundingly, so I break the things and then keep going in another font on another machine until the broken one is fixed and put back into rotation). Last year I picked up a solo canoe. This year I nabbed a steel-framed bikepacking bike, and I’m outfitting that with panniers from Frost River (vintage style, timeless durability, & U.S. made; I’m not affiliated, but I respect their gear). I expect to spend a lot more time out of the shop and out of the house, and I’ll probably write about those adventures, especially foreign ones. In an ideal world, I’ll pick up work as an adventurous travel writer so I can help my wife & I extend our time abroad. Golden Witch may become a catch-all for my own transition into the gig economy. And thank you, each individual GW client, for your support over the years and on into the transition!
Plan ahead, order ahead. That’s kind of like “aim small, miss small” in that, if you follow this guideline, then you’re less likely to be disappointed with the outcome. Please, plan ahead and order well in advance of your needs. It’s not unusual for us to have the “Patience” slider posted on the front page of the website and that means our backlog on custom parts is deeper than the old usual of 7-10 business days and could be stretched out three to six weeks, not including shop closure windows. These are real projections of possible lag times so please don’t imagine you’ll see your parts sooner than the longest span we currently mention on the website (and it could be a week or so longer than our best guess – rats). We are blessed to be EXTREMELY busy right now. Some rodmakers have emailed to ask if we really are this busy. Yes. Golden Witch has, after over two decades of being in business, been “discovered” by rodmakers around the world – North America (North Pole, AK!), South America (Brazil!), Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa….every continental where except the outposts on Antarctica, but to make up for that small lack, we have clients in many places that aren’t continental, too (Faroe Islands! Majorca! New Zealand!). This growth wasn’t sudden, but the growth curve has been steep this last year. There have been many days in 2021 that we’ve packed more than three times our daily average of packages from last year. At the bottom of this long note I’ll address how I plan to manage this unprecedented growth. And, no, I’m not hiring.If you’re a seasoned GW client and you already manage to follow all these rules as a matter of course, please know I’m not shouting about them to annoy you. Skim them, but don’t linger – nothing consequential has changed except that I’m not quietly admonishing folks any longer. I’m being visually noisy (bold, caps) primarily to capture the attention of new clients who haven’t yet adapted to our way of doing business. In order for our tiny staff to function, PLEASE follow our simple rules and know that we will not make exceptions for you. Yes, I am being more blunt here than I have ever been before. Let this bluntness be the evidence skeptics seem to require to know that we are almost unimaginably busy. If a maker emails and asks about one of the topics mentioned in these ‘rules,’ I am no longer going to respond with a polite email of explanation as I have done for years. I’m going to refer the writer to this letter. If that person can’t be bothered to read the rules, oh well. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t take the time to write this stuff up if I wasn’t plagued, on a near-daily basis, by emails requesting exceptions to our shop policies. All these shop policies are all outlined, probably in more detail, on our shipping policy page.
1) There Are NO Phone Consults, EVER. The GW Shop literally does not have a telephone and I do not carry a cell phone. There are several reasons for this, foremost among them that I don’t have time to stop working in order to manage phone conversations. Further, I spent my youth heavily involved in competitive shooting, rifle & pistol, small bore and large bore; Suffice to say, my hearing isn’t the best and phone conversations are no fun for anyone. Please understand that ALL business is conducted through our webstore and all communication is conducted by email. If you’re the sort who absolutely demands to speak with me if I’m to earn your business, please order a large pile of bamboo and meet me at the warehouse for pick-up, or take your business to someone who is less busy and don’t waste my time requesting an exception. All the folks currently on our order list have survived without hearing my voice. On the kinder flip side of all this, I write detailed responses to serious rodmaking questions. I earn my living through a combination of making nice parts and providing better than average service – so long as you’re willing to work with me and chat by email.
2) There Are NO Shipping Discounts, EVER. (Unless you order $500.00 or more of small parts to be delivered domestically, then we’ll pay the shipping.) Ponder this: If GW is backlogged several weeks on custom orders, I probably don’t need to offer a given maker a discount on shipping in order to ‘earn’ their business. If a maker is the sort of maker who expects discounts, they should do business with a discounter. On the other hand, if you prefer good service, and a huge depth of inventory, reasonably quick shipping on orders with no custom products, etc., then we’d love to work with you. Usually it’s someone ordering a tiptop who wants discounted shipping. Trust me, even with our shipping rates GW is losing money by providing the courtesy of shipping low-dollar orders. Yes, we are considering putting a minimum order in place; we haven’t only because sometimes our great clients do forget to order a tiptop or a winding check and they need one tiny part fast.
3) There Are NO Shop Visits, EVER. This refers to the GW shop. We still host visits to our bamboo warehouse if a maker orders a large quantity of bamboo and wants to avoid shipping charges. But, just as with phone calls, we do not have the time to manage in-person visits to the Golden Witch shop. My rodmaking, in-town, neighbors have to order through the website and I ship their parts. If a maker knocks on our front door (please don’t, it upsets the pack of dogs), I politely usher them away and tell them to order through the website. Every time. Please don’t think you’ll be the exception, even if you drive three hours to get here and offer me good beer.
4) There Are NO Add-On Orders Allowed, EVER. Add-on orders became a particular plague; please read the policy page. We no longer add items to orders or otherwise manipulate orders. Orders are sealed ‘as-is’ when you choose to submit them. Each transaction is a two-way contract between consenting adults (kids – I know you’re out there, and I’m only aiming this comment at the ones who have abused their privileges – please have your responsible adult read the rules BEFORE you order bamboo again using their credit card). I expect makers to order in a slow and responsible fashion – choose the proper sizes, choose the correct quantities, and be sure you order everything on the list you jotted down before settling into the task of placing an on-line order. In return, short of dying, I will get you nice parts in a reasonable span of time. I will GLADLY email back and forth with you about sizes, quantities, ferrule types, silk colors, anything of this sort, BEFORE you order. I really am a nice person, I’m just a nice person with a crushing schedule, so it’s far easier for me to guide you before you order than it is to fix your errors after you order. Please never be the person who places the order, then writes to say, “I’m not sure if I ordered the correct parts.” We have Black Spots, and this sort of behavior will earn you a Black Spot. This isn’t as severe as a Treasure Island Black Spot, but if you pick up three of them on your file, we will politely ask you to take all your business elsewhere. If you forget to order your tiptop for the second rod tip, please feel free to order it, just remember Rule #2.
5) Custom Products Are Not Returnable Or Exchangeable, EVER. This should be blitheringly obvious, but in our society where the younger generations have been taught that there are no consequences for their actions, I apparently have to spell it out. If maker contracts me to make a part ‘custom’ (in any way I define as custom, since you’re approaching our shop under no compulsion to do business with us), then you may not decide after you order – or after you receive the part – that you don’t want that part. If you don’t love it, save it for another project or sell it to another maker. This No Cancellation/No Return or Exchange policy is clearly stated here and on our policy page and stating it plain has, and will, defeat any effort to go through PayPal or a Credit Card firm to instigate a chargeback; don’t try, we win…and it’s a complete waste of everyone’s time. (Arguing about a return or exchange on a custom product is the quickest way to earn all three Black Spots in one particularly foul swoop – and you can’t earn more because I’ll have already asked you to do business elsewhere; for the uninitiated a ‘foul swoop’ is similar to a ‘fell swoop’ but it bears entirely negative connotations.) Whether ‘custom’ is as simple as bluing a little widget, or as complex as laying gold into the grooves of a reel seat and bluing around the gold highlights, custom parts are YOURS once ordered. The same goes for agate guides, wood reel seat inserts, and other natural products as discussed elsewhere on this website. The god of your heritage (I’m being broadly ecumenical here, so please don’t find a way to take offense at the lowercase ‘g’ – I did time in Seminary as a graduate student, so I’m sensitive to the thousand issues surrounding even so much as naming the deity and I’m using the lower case ‘god’ to stand in for the Ineffable, with a capital “I”), perhaps hand in hand with Mother Nature, had more impact on the visual aspects, pro or con, of the natural products you order than I do. The guide you ordered and received is the guide you get to keep. Revel in the natural aspects. With agate guides especially, don’t IMAGINE they’ll be some particular shade of this or that color, or that the bands will be ‘just so.’ Expect only and exclusively the unexpected (monochrome guides excepted). Order your guides, then order a tipping silk to compliment or to contrast. Be bold…order a spool of black Kimono silk with every guide you order, and put a note in the comments section that I should pick the best silk color possible to (match/contrast) with the agate you’ll be receiving…just be sure to mention this INSIDE the order not in a separate email, so that I send you an appropriate silk when I’m packing your order six weeks hence.
6) Be Patient & Be Kind, ALWAYS. If I live to see a century of life, I’m already in my second half. Odds are, judging from my male forebears’ tendency to croak at the very moment they get serious about retiring, that I’m already well beyond the half-way mark. At this point, I have close to zero tolerance for impatient and unkind people. I am very quick to tell certain folks to take their business elsewhere. There are hungrier component suppliers who will put up with all manner of ill behavior to earn a buck. I’m not them. The good news for you, since you’re not one of the other thems (those who are impatient and unkind), is that I have more time to help decent folks like yourself. Win-Win. Within the scope of Golden Witch, I typically work twelve-hour days. Frankly, that’s too much. I will be making changes to move into, as I joke, semi-retirement. For me, semi-retirement will be a return to eight-hour work days, and only seven days a week. To do this, two things are going to happen. First, the prices on all GW-crafted items are going up in the near future, starting last week. This should temper the enthusiasm of rodmakers around the world. Second, the lag time will grow – or shrink – to accommodate the workload, as opposed to me increasing my work hours further and further. I’ve put in some sixteen-hour days recently and I’m done with that. I want to paddle my canoe, walk my dog (only one of our pack is ‘my’ dog; we’re a dog family, as anyone who has inspected their packing tape too-closely will know), go fishing – and spend more time with my family. Success was killing me, draining my enthusiasm for a craft I love to the core of my being. Now I’m adjusting GW to manage that success – and I’ve re-gained my enthusiasm. For you, this means order early and then expect a delay before I ship custom parts. (“Is it done yet? Is it done yet? Is it done yet?” – that’ll also earn you a Black Spot – and, yes, former clients of this sort have happened, and they’ve been dismissed.) Thank you in advance for your continued business, and your kind patience. Those of you who continue to do business with GW will know that you’re supporting a craftsman who intends to make world-class parts while still enjoying life outside the shop.
OK – with that bit of bluntness out of the way, let’s continue …
If you need ferrules now and a guide in six weeks, please place two orders – one with exclusively non-custom items (inquire by email BEFORE ordering if you’re unsure) and one with all your custom items. If you email, please stick tightly to business topics and title your email appropriately, e.g., “Fitting Ferrules” or “Guide Sizes.” Whenever possible, please track your own packages using the tracking number that either the USPS or UPS should have provided you when we shipped; please understand every request to track delayed packages slows us down on getting the next maker’s order out the door. Many packages are being delayed in transit, largely due to Covid challenges, so keep your tracking emails when they arrive and keep tabs on your packages directly through the shippers’ websites. Thanks!
Departures. YLI stock continues to shrink. You already know Pearsall’s silk supplies are dwindling rapidly. When the price of our regular inventory hits $12.95/spool, that means we have 48 or fewer spools. That’s our max price for GW’s original inventory. We did buy out one retiring rodmaker, so we have a very limited number of spools at higher prices. Sorry fellows, but we’re not planning to buy out any additional silk stashes. When this stuff sells down, it’s gone. Our A+ bamboo inventory is getting lower; once it sells out we will not bring in more bamboo until the A grade inventory is low, so if you want the good stuff, get it. We’re having trouble acquiring and keeping Glace Cotton Binding Thread in stock….when we have it, buy it if you’ll need it in the next year. Unless the manufacturer changes their mind, the torches are gone for good. Very sorry about that. Expect to see more “Sale” items as we begin the process of closing out non-essential product lines. The busier we are making guides, the less time we have to manage slow-selling, odd-ball items. We are very actively cutting back our number of SKUs.
Arrivals. It’s been a good month! A+ Cork is back in stock. Our Premier Roughing & Intermediate Forms are back in stock. Oxpho-Blue is back in stock. Rottenstone is back in stock. Rattan is back in all sizes (but in limited quantities until our back-ordered material arrives in October or November). We are chasing down a number of other much needed items so keep your eye on this Arrivals list, and on the front page of our website. Our large diameter Custom Contact Points are back in stock. Check out the Depth Gauge Package page for these sweet points: HERE. Limited supply, and we probably won’t make them again. Our Six-Section Pie Splitters – the most popular configuration – are finally back in stock, again. Limited supply as always, so get one if you need one. If you need particularly nice bamboo, check out our Select Cut A+ Culms which were recently posted to this site. These are all 6′ sticks, the best 6′ cut from culms that should have been A+, but which had an unfortunate flaw on one end or the other. What’s left in the 6′ we kept is damn fine bamboo. Our 2020 A+ Cork is sold out; Good news, though, is that we’re getting another shipment in mid-July, so watch for that and grab the best cork while we’ve got it. The most exciting thing to keep your eye on is our Hydro-Welded Guides – made start to finish in the Golden Witch shop. We’ll also be opening a new section of the webstore devoted to pre-made guides featuring these Hydro-Welded frames….guides you can have shipped immediately as non-custom rod jewelry, if you order them while each batch, or individual guide, is available. During the Christmas break, I made about thirty guides that will be listed either the Founder’s Series or the Franken-Stone series. These Hydro-Welded Guides are the first non-custom, light production guides to bear the Golden Witch name (all our other light production guides had been tagged with the Arcane Component Works brand). Speaking as the maker, these are the guides I’ve been working up to my entire career. Finally, watch for more Pigments of the Earth to tint your grips!
Missing Emails. If you think we’ve ignored an email that you sent, please check your spam or junk file because we diligently respond to all customer emails (many emails have gone astray recently). Thanks! If you’re positive we are missing your emails, maybe there is a server glitch. It happens. Read the Contact page carefully for a work-around.
Custom Parts & Special Orders. Please order custom products – agate guides, anything that must be blued, that sort of thing – at least six weeks prior to the start of any future shop closure if you want the order shipped with utter certainty before that closure; custom orders with shorter lead times may be completed, and often are, but no promises. Yes, the long lag time means you may need to plan to order parts now so that you receive them before the SECOND up-coming shop closure. Orders with only non-custom items usually ship the business day after you place the order, even in the run-up towards a shop closure; we hustle to get your orders out the door and in your hands – but bear in mind that many things you think can’t possibly be custom, are (shop-made hook tenders are a prominent example). You must plan ahead if you want guides because I rarely ship in less than three weeks and it often ranges up to six weeks. The prices will be rising slightly on all custom items as part of my effort to both find a better work/life balance and to stock up on parts for what looks like a busy year ahead. One of our good clients pointed out that we didn’t have a straightforward method outlined for making special orders. Please see our Contact page or our Shipping Policy page for new details on Special Order items.
Freebies. As many of you have noticed, we’ve switched up our freebies over the past couple months and now we’re sending out scads of vintage parts, mostly all-metal tips and guides. I realized I’ll never sell through the half million or so guides (really, that’s not an exaggeration) taking up room on the GW shelves, so I’m giving many away. My hope is that when you receive something that’s a little oddball relative to the normal parts you order, you’ll be inspired to create a rod that fits the free components. Try making a boat rod, a trolling rod, a casting rod, a spinning rod, a coarse rod, or a light flyrod that can benefit from teeny prong tiptops. Please don’t throw the vintage parts away – they have real, practical, value in our world of angling craftsmen and women. Trade them. Gift them. Help them find a home on custom crafted tackle. Giving away thousands of dollars’ worth of inventory may seem like an odd way to stay in business, but I’m gambling on the fact that when you put these parts to good use, you’ll need ferrules, silks, cork, and more. We’re going to give away parts until they are gone, which will take years. Sorry – no requests on freebies. If I have to dig for particular items, they’re billed at retail.
Closure Math. I tend to work non-stop when the shop is open, so I sincerely appreciate your understanding during those times when I shut down to spend time with family, especially now that the boys are out of the house and, frequently, far from home. If Angus is in Arizona, I’d like to visit him. If Drake is momentarily on St. John, USVI, I’d like to get down for a week of camping in their jungle. You may notice a trend here, a new work rhythm that I’m experimenting with so I don’t burn out. Rather than pretending to take weekends off, which rarely happens, I bundle my down time and skip town so I can’t work. Despite appearances, this means the shop is only sealed up about 86 days per year vs. 124+ days per year if I actually didn’t work on weekends and took four weeks of vacation, plus Federal holidays, to match my wife’s vacation time. I offer the math because a few folks have noted that “it seems like GW is always on vacation.” Generally speaking, the shop will be open for five weeks, then closed for a week with a ramp-down Friday and ramp-up Monday on both ends of the closed week although that sort of neatly planned closure doesn’t always pan out. We’re closed on most major U.S. holidays: New Years, Ground Hog’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, & Christmas. Everyone involved here – Matt, Nikki, Drake, & I – appreciates your business and your patience with custom orders. Golden Witch & Peak Bamboo couldn’t do what we do without you.
And the opportunity one of you has been waiting for …
Selling Golden Witch. Update, Late April, 2022. Yes, I’ve had some tire kickers nosing around GW. Nice fellows to a man. No I have not sold the company. In a recent meeting, our financial planner was blunter than usual (and he’s blunt). He told me that if I’m serious about spending time with soon-to-be-retired Steph and not continuing to work full-time from a more exotic locale, then I need to drop the price of the company, sell it, and walk away. More discussions have refined my new approach. I was asking 4x gross annual sales, plus inventory – and that encompassed a lot of stuff. Now I’m asking 2x gross annual sales, plus reduced inventory. But I’m not really asking for much less overall. Here’s why. I’m working on selling ‘the rod shop’ (some, not all, of my major rodmaking tools, benches, cabinets, etc.) as one piece. All the collected GW art (catalog covers and much more) is going different directions – some to our website, some to auction. The vintage oak furniture is being auctioned off – at least what doesn’t sell through Craigslist and related venues. Vintage and collectible tackle is headed to auction, for the most part; some I’ll hang onto until a more propitious moment. Etc., etc. What I’m doing is breaking a rather gargantuan lump of stuff into more digestible pieces. If the shop sells, grand. If not, it all goes into storage except for the piece I’ll keep active: guide making. As I’ve told a few friends, in the middle of trying to de-inventory, I’m stocking up….on the raw materials and consumables needed to make thousands and thousands of guide frames and completed guides. When Steph & I head out, I’ll take a jewelry shop’s worth of tooling, and a few crates of parts…stone rings, spools of nickel silver wire, solder, and so on. I’ll keep making guides – perhaps on contract for a new owner, perhaps for my own amusement and to fund my portion of our future, and perhaps for two other good reasons. First: I do want to write a how-to book on making the components that I craft in the shop…mostly hook tenders & guides; this book could easily wind up doubling as deep dive introduction to jewelry making, from wire bending to welding. Second: Steph & I have discussed running classes. I’d teach, one student at a time. Steph would cook breakfasts and keep house for that student and their spouse…and lead their spouse on all sorts of island adventures while I teach. This is sexist…we’re assuming male students and female spouses, but we’re flexible and could certainly manage a couple where the lady (there are a few of you!) is the resident rodmaker…and there are a few couples who make rods together. Anyway, the plans keep shifting, yet with every shift they become more refined. We know where we want to live. We know how much space we’d require for ourselves (not too much), the shop, and a guest apartment. In June…not many weeks away…we’ll begin our house hunting on the ground, which will be so much more satisfying that reading through all the real estate websites, then tracking down the properties on Google Earth to get the bird’s eye view, and Street View, to get the low down on on what was up however many years back their camera car was poking around. Anyway, if you want a screaming deal on a very busy little company, now is the best time to inquire.
As I keep telling folks, I am utterly devoted to Golden Witch so long as I’m the owner. (And if you order custom parts while I’m the owner, I’ll make those parts personally before I leave. Don’t fret – I have at least a month of education planned for any new owners and in that month I’ll make the parts that you ordered before I sold the business.) To get back on track, I am also in the best position to know that this little company of mine (which includes Golden Witch, Arcane Component Works, and Peak Bamboo) has outgrown its founder. As one indicator that I’m willing to share publicly, our 2020 taxes have been completed and our Gross Profit is up 21.7% over 2019. While that sounds lovely, it’s unsustainable for me and I’ve already closed one branch of a major account in early 2021 because I can’t make enough guides to keep up with demand. If you’ve got the knack for managing employees, you could really run with this company.
None of my kids – not my adult boys, not my soon-to-graduate girls – wants to take over Golden Witch. It’s hard to say where they’ll all land, but it looks like we’ll have two musicians, a molecular biologist, and a visual artist. My wife has retirement in her sights. The two of us are soon to have an empty nest. It’s time for me to move on to other adventures. Over the past several years I’ve entertained many inquiries about purchasing the company. It’s always been for sale, for the right price. Now I’m stating it publicly: Golden Witch, along with Arcane & Peak, is for sale as a single entity. No idle inquiries, because I don’t have time to sate curiosity, sorry. To discuss the purchase, I’ll present any seriously interested person with the opportunity to make a large cork purchase equivalent to 1% of my asking price. With cash in hand, we’ll talk. The money either becomes a deposit on the company, or I will order in, then ship, cork – the money itself is payment for a non-refundable purchase, one way or the other. Ideally the company group will be sold to a young couple, both business-minded artisans. They’ll need significant private financial backing; no, I will not finance the purchase. I will provide one month of training as part of the sale; additional training time can be purchased, but not more than three added months. If you can’t figure this out in four months at my elbow, running a video camera if needs be to record guide-making steps, then you’re too slow on the uptake to manage this little monstrosity. Arrive sharp, talented, and with a learner’s mindset. Absorb what I can teach you, then do it all your own way. I would consider continuing to make guides on an exclusive contract for the new owners. Yes, I really enjoy making guides. I will gladly sign a non-compete agreement (generally speaking, I want to go boating & fishing for pleasure, not step back into the fishing industry). The new owners, if two replace me, should expect to work at least 8 hours every day, and not more if they want a life outside the company. There are many opportunities for expansion that I have politely declined, but the new owners will need more staff to manage those expansions (particularly, a full-time jeweler to make guides, hook tenders, etc.). They’ll need one full-timer or two part-timers to manage stuff that they don’t care to manage (in my case, I have a bookkeeper/number wizard and a webmaster/graphic designer, each of whom aids GW on a part-time but sine qua non basis). They’ll also need one part time to full time shop assistant to cut bamboo, pick/pack orders, clean up, etc.; until now this has been the role my kids filled, first for sporting gear they needed, then for gas money. The buyers will need shop space to work (~2,000+ sf for benches/supplies), warehouse space (~5,000+ sf for bamboo and aluminum rod tube storage, shipping supplies, metal and wood cutting benches, packing space….less if tall racks are used), inventory space (~2,000+ sf for GW small item inventory, e.g., silks, ferrules, guides) – perhaps retail space, though I don’t recommend this as the added staff expenses were never worth the rewards; stay lean – GW’s clients are spread out all over the world which makes an internet storefront a better expense than a brick & mortar storefront. They’ll need a significant first year budget to manage packing/shipping/unpacking the inventory; building mortgage/rental; staff expenses; and a hundred other et ceteras. Whomever the new owners are, they’ll need a very old-school approach to hard work. In return for their investment and their labor, they should be able to fund a worthwhile working lifetime for themselves and their family and, perhaps, in a couple decades they’ll sell the business group to their children and set sail into their own retirement. This is one heck of an opportunity for a crafty someone who’d like to step into an established business being sold by an enthusiast who will tell them everything possible about how to manage the existing business as well as where to first probe for expansion opportunities. If it’s you, knock. I’ll open the door. Please don’t expect a negotiation. The price is fixed because I know what I need to move on and for my price I’ll pour out everything I know (win-win … it’s the best way forward); only my added time or contract work is negotiable. I’ll also discuss a few ideas I have for ‘continuing education’…I’d love to teach what I know so long as it is complementary to the goals of the new owners and there are ways to make that happen, particularly if the new owners want to expand GW’s product line to include more tools and more raw materials, to be not merely one source for rodmaking components, but a primary source for the stuff that independent craftsmen and craftswomen need to make not merely their own rods, but their own guides, hook tenders, and all the rest. GW evolved into what it is today because I listened to potential clients at my first few ‘rod’ shows…and most didn’t want my finished rods, they wanted to know how I made them. We produced a bunch of DVDs and those educational materials led to our shift away from completed tackle and into component supply. As a new generation of young retirees decides they’re ready to shift from service work into handicraft work, there is a growing – and well funded – market for education and for the supplies to feed the knowledge. There’s a lot to talk about. Are you ready?
While I do need to accommodate some family plans as we have the opportunity to travel, I expect to become more strict about a regular work rhythm of five weeks of work with ten day breaks in the gaps between working spans. Please keep tabs on this text block as there may be other closures to accommodate random trips as well as two writing projects I’ve gotten involved with. All of you, and your families, too: Please Stay Safe & Stay Healthy!
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