For those of you that have been following our story, you know that we started Goulet Pens back in 2009 on our dining table, with just the two of us. We never could have imagined that it would blossom into what it is now: a team of 41 amazing people in a 12,000sf space. We’ve moved and expanded our space several times over the last several years, expanding into 3 connected suites in our existing building. Early last year we started thinking ahead, about our current lease term coming to an end and whether we thought we would continue to grow or if we should stay and expand further in our building or just try to make it work.
These kinds of decisions are never easy. Being an online retailer you would think that physical location isn’t much of a consideration for us like a retailer with a storefront. And while that’s true to some degree, we still have a lot of space needs with a large team and a lot of inventory to store! A decision to renew a lease or move is a huge decision.
Ultimately, it boiled down to one thing: are we going to make a conscious effort to grow or not?
For any of you that have run or worked with a small business before, you know this is a gut-wrenching decision. There’s so much uncertainty, there’s so much fear and doubt about the future. What if we expand and the economy takes a turn? What if we overextend ourselves and can’t emotionally or mentally handle the growth? What if, what if, what if…? These are all battles we’ve had to fight in our own minds, as we know that past success is no guarantee of future success. We’ve read the statistics about the likelihood of start up businesses to fail…and while being 8 years in we’ve beat most of the odds, it’s always something on our mind. The thing is though, we don’t live our lives by fear. We are optimistic, realistic, and really, really hard working. We believe in what we’re doing, and we have a whole team that believes in the Goulet Pens mission: “To provide fountain pen enthusiasts with the most personal online shopping experience, through comprehensive education, exemplary service, and products we believe in.”
In order for us to continue to live out our mission, allow for future expansion into opportunities we see on the horizon, and better accommodate our team with a physical space that reflects the amazing culture that we’ve built here, we decided we would make the investment and move to a new location that’s close to double the size of what we have now. It’s about 10 minutes away from where we are now, and while it’s slightly further for the two of us to drive, it’s closer for just about all of our team. It’s going to be a larger, more functional, and much more intentionally designed space to accommodate the way our team operates and where we plan to expand in the future. We’ve also funded this whole project without debt, as that’s something we feel is important to us. That alone has been a challenge, and has kept us laser-focused.
All that said, this has been a huge, massive project requiring gobs of time, money, and energy. We started shopping for a commercial broker in January 2016, and we were looking at spaces throughout the spring and summer last year (while also working through our miscarriage). Once we found a place last summer, we then negotiated the lease and buildout terms over many months, hired a designer, shopped for construction crews, and have been overseeing a very sizable buildout. We’ve done all this unbeknownst to you, because there was so much in flux throughout the whole project, we weren’t sure how and when it would affect our ability to serve you as we normally do. We wanted to focus on still providing a great customer experience despite this moving project. We’re letting you know now because we are wrapping up the final stage of construction and we have official dates to share with you that will impact our normal availability.
So without further ado, here are the key dates and questions we can think to answer for you:
Our move will commence on Wed. August 9th and proceed through the weekend of August 13th. We will be fully operational in our new building starting on Monday, August 14th.
The Moving Schedule:
August 9 (Wed)
- 12:00pm EDT through late afternoon – we will shut down our website and temporarily stop receiving orders so we can perform a physical inventory.
- Several hours later, our site will be back up and we will be able to receive your orders, but will not be able to ship them out until the following week.
August 10-11 (Thur/Fri)
- We will be accepting orders through our site but not fulfilling them. We will be moving over all our inventory and furniture these days, setting up to be operational the following Monday.
- We will look to have some coverage of email, LiveChat, phones, and social media during these days, just please be patient and flexible with us as we will have less coverage than normal during these days.
Will you still accept order placement, cancellations, changes during your move?
Yes, we will do our best to accommodate your needs as we normally would during the move. The only service that will be affected is our fulfillment operation because our inventory will be in transit during this time.
Will you have a physical storefront where I can try pens?
No. It’s in our mission statement that we serve the online fountain pen community, and our new space is designed to better accommodate this purpose. While we understand it would be really cool to have this as a customer, that’s a different business model than what we’ve established and we are not looking to move in this direction. Our building is located in a commercial office park that’s not zoned for physical retail, and our landlord prohibits establishing a storefront in our lease agreement.
Will you allow visitors in your new space?
Being in a new space, it’s going to take us a while to figure out how things work. Our whole team is going to be disrupted and need to figure out how to find a new (hopefully better) normal. Having visitors stream through our space is going to make it very difficult for us to get our bearings, so we are not encouraging any walk-in visitors for the immediate future.
Will you still allow local pickups of orders placed online?
This is something we’ve offered for several years in our current space, but we will no longer be able to accommodate this service for the foreseeable future, for the reasons mentioned above.
Where do I send my returns and exchanges so they don’t get forgotten about in your transition?
If you have any questions about returns, please email us. All USPS letters and packages will be auto-forwarded to our new address starting August 10.
Will you offer FedEx Overnight and 2-Day shipping options during your move?
No, we will be able to accept orders but not fulfill them during our move. We will disable all expedited options and put disclaimers on our site starting August 8th through August 14th.
Thank you so much for the years of support that have allowed us to continue to serve you in bigger and better ways. We’re very excited about this transition and we’re so grateful for the opportunity to be able to be a part of this incredible fountain pen community. This whole experience has been new, eye-opening, and exciting (okay, sometimes terrifying), and it wouldn’t be possible without you. Thank you!!!
Please feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments below.
Brian and Rachel Goulet