We get a lot of questions from visitors and customers about shipping. As more and more retail sales are made over the internet, consumers who never had to think about shipping and delivery before are being faced with new terms and charges. Many websites avoid this problem by offering free shipping on purchases over a minimum purchase threshold, such as $100.00. We do this for smaller items, also, but much of our product is too heavy or bulky to ship by UPS or FedEx and must go by truck.
Truck shipping for us is referred to as LTL or “less than truckload” This describes product weighing over 50 lbs and up to 1000 lbs or more and shipped on wood pallets. This is generally more costly than parcel shipping but may have the benefit of reducing damage to breakable Christmas or garden statues. The price of shipping an item by truck changes very nearly every day with the cost of diesel fuel and we obtain this from various truckers websites. We prefer to use trucking companies that provide safe handling of our statues and figures by ensuring that nothing can be loaded on top of our pallets. If heavy product is loaded on top of our pallets, we can get what we call the “tall poppy” effect, where the heads of several of the figures have been lopped off when they arrive.
Our objective is for our product to arrive at our customer’s location in perfect condition with no crushed, ripped or pierced boxes and with the statues in perfect condition and ready to be displayed. I will talk more about shipping in my next post.
This is the fourth and final posting in this series. I welcome any thoughts and suggestions from customers and visitors as to what more I can add to this information.
How Long Should my Nativity Set Last?
The modern Nativity Set (which sounds like a contradiction in terms) is really a piece of sculpture art and should be treated as such. Despite their durable construction, the figures will break or crack if they are dropped or fall over onto a hard surface such as frozen ground or a concrete walkway. As a result, we try to ship all of our large Nativity figures by truck in reinforced cartons attached to wood pallets rather than expose them to the abuse they receive when shipped with the various package delivery services. If the figures sit in water, even if it does not freeze, the paint is likely to chip or flake. If the Nativity figures are cleaned with a detergent or liquid cleaner or washed off with a power washer or high pressure hose, the surface may chip off or be damaged.
We recommend at the end of the Christmas season, the figures should be brought under cover or inside and allowed to dry. Dirt, bird droppings or other debris should be wiped off gently with a slightly damp cloth and the figures should be stored in a dry area, preferably in the original shipping cartons.
Please keep in mind that these figures are under your care, custody and control so they cannot be guaranteed by the manufacturer, importer or retailer. Nevertheless, assuming a five or six week annual display period and proper care, cleaning and storage, your Nativity set should last a good long time
We originally added stories to our website to improve our Google page positions with more relevant content. We wrote our own stories and requested Christmas and St Francis related stories from friends and families. We also paid professional writers for new and imaginative stories. Much to our surprise and delight, these stories became an important part of our website and even a destination for some customers.
Our latest customer satisfaction survey had several requests for new stories and favorable comments on what we already have. Based on our experience, so far and the favorable comments, we have decided to have our new stories written by Brian “Fox” Ellis a well known writer and storyteller from Illinois. Brian Ellis has been collecting and telling stories for more than 25 years. He speaks and performs in such diverse venues as riverboats, science conferences, schools churches and libraries. He performs several one man storytelling “shows” as Charles Darwin, Walt Whitman, John James Audubon and relates stories of Abraham Lincoln.
Brian Ellis has written ten books including the award winning childrens picture book The Web at Dragonfly Pond. Christmas Night Inc has recently added Kneeling Santa Claus at the Manger and Who is Welcome at His House by Brian “Fox” Ellis. Please visit him on his website www.foxtalesint.com
This is the third installment of our series. We hope you find it useful.
How do I secure my Nativity Set against theft and damage?
Unfortunately Nativity figures displayed outdoors are a ready target for vandalism and theft. Every Christmas season brings newspaper and web reports of a stolen or damaged Christ Child,Nativity animal or even a King. Much of this can be attributed to teenage dares and drunken hi-jinks, but a small percentage is malicious.
No security method, including locks and chains will prevent a determined thief from taking a Nativity figure. Nevertheless, you can tether or attach your pieces to your Nativity stable or to the ground in such a way as to deter an easy “snatch and run” A wood post or concrete reinforcing bar driven into the ground behind the figure can then be attached to the figure with small link chain, flexible wire or even nylon fishing line. When a wood stable is part of the display, pieces of steel plasterboard lath can be bent at right angles ( if it isn’t already 90 deg) and can be screwed to the stable base and attached to the figure. We do not recommend driving a screw into the fiberglass or polyresin figures as they can crack.
Any of these methods will also be suitable to prevent the figures being tipped over by vandals or being blown over by high winds. Tall figures falling onto hard surfaces or frozen ground are likely to crack.
Last week we began a series discussing some of the important factors to consider when choosing a Nativity set and we focussed on outside display. This week we will talk about lighting and security.
How Should I light My Set?
The hollow ” blow mold” nativity sets, so popular and visible for the last forty years have been replaced by solid molded statues. I won’t get into the reasons for this transition which are a combination of manufacturing and shipping economics. I will say that this change has left many “blow mold” collectors very disappointed. The ” blow mold” pieces are hollow plastic shells and are lighted from the inside with 7 watt and 25 watt bulbs contained in UL/CSA listed electrical components.
The new, solid Nativity figures must be lighted with spotlights. If displayed outside, these spotlights must be designed and approved for outdoor use by UL or some other electrical authority. The spotlights may be purchased at your local or big box hardware store for less than ten dollars. Please follow their installation instructions carefully and do not install in standing water or very damp environments
The Nativity set figures can be displayed in and around a wood Nativty stable and the lighting can be used to create a dramatic scene.
Today I will start a series about some of the things we consider important when choosing a Nativity Set. Despite and perhaps because of, the increasingly secular nature of the Christmas holiday season, more amd more Christians are opting to celebrate the original reason for the holiday by displaying a Nativity Set, with or without the other symbols, such as a Christmas tree.
If you are buying for your home, church, office, school or hospital, there are several factors to consider:
Will it be displayed outside?
If you intend to set up your Nativity outside, the figures should be made of a durable material such as wood, fiberglass reinforced resin, concrete or resin filled and reinforced with stone marble or sand ( usually called polyresin). The paint should be weather and sunlight resistant and also UVA ( ultraviolet A ) resistant. Of course, even the most durable finish will fade when exposed to daily sun and weather over the years. We assume that you intend to display your set for the five or six weeks of the Christmas holiday season.
Nativity sets displayed outside should be lighted with spotlights and should be large enough to be visible to motorists or pedestrians passing by
We had some terrific ideas and comments from our second customer satisfaction survey. I will list some with our reply and action.
” I would like to hear of any special offers on the Nativity figures I ordered” We are always trying to find new items and better prices for you. We do not normally discount our more popular sets as we usually sell out, but we may need to balance our stock from time to time and that may present an opportunity. We have sourced some product on direct import which has resulted in significantly lower prices for our Life Size Plus Nativity.
“I wish we could get more animals of the same scale for our Nativity Set. Do you sell these separately or as an animal set?” We have added Camels to more of our sets and we are creating “animal sets” in addition to the animals we sell individually.
” More stories!” If you visit the Stories section of our website, you will see that we have added two more wonderful stories from Brian ” Fox” Ellis the acclaimed author of Fox Tales International . We have a story about “Who is Welcome in His House?” and “Kneeling Santa at the Manger” (more below). Two more stories by Brian Ellis will be added shortly.
“Don, remember that you were going to check on a large Kneeling Santa for me” We get a number of requests for special and unique Christmas items. We offer a several small versions of Santa Claus kneeling at the crib of the baby Jesus, but we have had requests for a life size version. Unfortunately, the economics of mold production and volume manufacturing rule out this large and expensive figure with limited appeal. We will keep looking, so please do ask for these special items.
” I am more interested in high quality, commercial grade decorations.” You may have noticed that we are offering more large, commercial style figures, particularly focused on Toy Soldiers, Nutcrackers, Santas and Snowmen. We have added to our array of larger outdoor Nativity sets and we replaced the “Made in China” Nativity Stables with our own design “Made in USA” of American white pine.
More next post.
“It’s funny to be talking about Christmas in April” said the nice lady from a small town in Virginia, “but I know if I don’t get started planning our fund raising, it will never happen” She and her congregation at a very small church have set their sights on a fabulous Nativity set made by Fontanini, the Italian manufacturer of the world’s most artistically beautiful ( and often, most expensive) Nativity figures and scenes from three inches to full life size.
She wanted to do something beyond the usual church bake sale, raffle, bingo, silent auction or fund raiser and hit upon what she called “Christmas in July”. As she explained it they were going to have a Christmas party with a tree and presents, except that the presents would be pictures of the individual Nativity figures. Members of the congregation will be able to donate to the church Nativity fund for whichever figure they choose.
To help her with this, we provided full color pictures of each of the fifteen beautiful Nativity figures, including the Holy Family, three Kings, Gabriel, Ox, Donkey, Camel, two Angels, two sheep, a Stable and, last but not least. a bagpiper! The Italians are very creative and inclusive when creating their Nativity sets.
Our pictures, each one with a cost, will be placed on their tree, and church members can note the figure and make their commitment toward the purchase. We are happy to help and we are also happy to pass on a very good fund raising idea.
This is the first post of our new Christmas Night blog. Since we just received your replies and comments from the Christmas Night Customer Satisfaction Survey, we wanted to share the information with you. Your replies and comments were overwhelmingly positive and I will summarize these along with the ” you could do better” comments:
- Over 90% found the website easy to use and navigate.
- 97% said the shopping basket was logical and easy to use.
- 73% rated customer service excellent, while 25% said it was good. We need to do better!
- 94% liked our information about shipping cost and method.
- 90% said product delivery was prompt and product arrived in good condition. 6.5% said it arrived on time, but was damaged. Very upsetting for both us and you! When items are damaged in shipping, we replace them at no cost to you, but then we need your help to claim against the freight company.
We solicited and received excellent suggestions on improving our customer service, delivery and overall experience with Christmas Night and we plan to act on those. Over 20% of the people responding offered us ideas for products and services and many of these may be used. All in all were very pleased with your response. In our next post we will share with you some of the comments and suggestions from our Christmas Night “Community”