Western Art, Western Decor

Escalating Freight, Product Prices, and Overhead Costs

Posted on September 23, 2021 by Buffalo Trader Online

We are now in our 12th year of business thanks to our wonderful customers like you! January, 2022 will make 13 years in business and we thank you for your continued patronage.

In our last blog post, we discussed the rising costs of goods and shipping. We have been notified by every wholesale partner that currently supplies our goods that due to increased raw goods costs, production costs, and transportation costs, a sharp rise in wholesale pricing as well as higher transportation costs have unfortunately now made some of our most popular products no longer profitable. Due to hyper-inflation, we have made the decision to no longer offer some larger or heavier items in our products lines. These items include iron or heavier metals, wood, and glass items weighing more than 5 lbs. measuring 24 inches or more in any dimension. Items are marked as "(over-sized)" and most require separate shipping due to the weight and/or size and shape. These items are clearly marked on our website. We have also eliminated several product suppliers that have been unwilling to compromise on high-cost shipping options or product minimums.

Products made of raw wood, steel, aluminum, silver, glass, and injection molded poly resin materials are among a few of the categories of products that have proven to be the most affected by these increased costs. These increases are three-fold for us as a small business since we are not only absorbing higher incoming shipping costs (two increases just since January) but also additional fuel and distance surcharges with all major shipping carriers. Along with this inflation, we are also absorbing higher office, warehouse, electrical, and labor costs to operate. With the higher cost of goods, higher minimums required by our suppliers, and increased outgoing shipping costs to our customers, we had to make some tough decisions on which products to keep and which ones to no longer offer. Items that are not drop-shipped to our customers by our supplier have been marked "out of stock" momentarily. We hope this will only be temporary and while these items are still available from our suppliers, the overhead costs are just too great at this time.

While we have continued passing our discounted shipping rates to our customers, we have not increased our tiered shipping rates for the past three years and at this point, we may have to now as our current shipping rates barely cover shipping costs in most instances, even for smaller packages of less than 3 lbs. to most delivery areas. The US Postal Service has announced yet another proposed increase for 2021/2022. And, as we have in the past, if shipping costs are less than $5.00 more than our customer paid for shipping during checkout, we will continue to waive the difference and cover the costs from our profit margin, at least for now. However, the costs of packing materials, tape, and shipping boxes have also seen sharp increases in costs and we are experiencing shortages due to long backorders for paper products in general, particularly new boxes that UPS now requires for all shipping. This is not only expensive but also impractical or impossible with larger special order or open stock items that may or may not ship to us in suitable packaging for re-shipping. We only bill our customers the extra shipping for larger or heavier items that require over-sized rates or when shipped to an obscure delivery location that dictates much higher shipping costs, all described in the product's description. We will continue this practice for a long as is feasible.

While shopping with us, keep in mind that while we can no longer offer free shipping because search engines like Google and Yahoo penalize us by restricting relevancy and viewership on search results when we offer "FREE" anything. This hurts us and other small businesses in lieu of "big tech" helping their biggest paid ads customers Amazon, eBay, and other big box stores that can afford to absorb these costs and whom receive much larger shipping discounts due to much higher volume than we do. We are trying our best to prevent being squeezed out of the online marketplace to continue offering our customers fair and honorable pricing policies without deceptive offers where the added costs are tacked onto the cost of products just for the sake of offering "free" shipping. Many of our products are already priced at 20-25% below the manufacturer's retail suggested price to help our customers defray anticipated increased shipping costs. So, while we do not offer free shipping any longer, we do offer lower prices and our fairest, discounted shipping rates whenever possible.

We have also seen a sharp increase in damage claims with all three shipping carriers as a result of inexperienced and untrained transportation workers, labor shortages, increased shipping volumes, increased shipping delays, lost packages, and packages delivered to the wrong address. While we are not responsible for these issues, it affects our business and our customers so we are doing everything we can to prevent any damages by utilizing the required methods by all three shipping carriers to ensure safe transport of insured packages. While issues arise, please understand that shipping issues are not the fault of the store and once a package leaves our warehouse, we have little or no input on how or where the package is routed once shipped. We ship to the address give by our customers and the system is automated so please check the shipping address you enter carefully. 

We have also experienced an increase in customers that abandon their orders and/or refuse to pay additional shipping due on items marked as "over-sized" in the item's description. These items are clearly marked for this reason. We encourage customers to email us for a shipping quote in advance of placing an order for all larger or heavier items. Special order and larger open stock items are not eligible for late cancellation or refunds. This is also stated clearly in the descriptions of these items. Late cancellations after an order is packed, weighed, and measured for shipping costs us time and labor, non-refundable credit card fees, and other overhead expenses related to returning products to inventory. For this reason, all customers will now be required to agree to our Terms and Conditions (including shipping fees) when their order is placed. You may review our Terms and Conditions here. The 15% restocking fee (minimum of $10) for late cancellations and returns will now be strictly enforced. 

We remain a small, family-owned and operated business and we will continue to try to make these decisions with our customers' best interests at heart. We want to continue offering a wide variety of products at fair prices with the lowest possible shipping costs while maintaining a decent profit margin.

My husband and I started this business 12 years ago to promote his western art. While this website has been quite successful, we have carried our share of obstacles and economic issues along with all other small businesses. Since the COVID-19 shutdowns, we've seen significant changes to how our business operates as well as how to effectively service our customers. My husband retired a few years ago so this is now our primary source of retirement income and it's becoming harder and harder each day to stay afloat in this turbulent economy. We're not Amazon and we never will be so please bear with us through this difficult time in our country's economic history.

As a reminder, we currently seek American-made products where possible and our remaining products are sourced only from American-based companies providing jobs to Americans. We do not deal with overseas vendors and we plan to continue supporting American owned and operated businesses only. Please help us by continuing to support all small local and online businesses!

We appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to serving you in the upcoming holiday season. 

Pray for our nation.


Denny and Leigh Karchner - Owners & Staff
Buffalo Trader Online