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2010 Holiday Hours

Posted by OakCourt on Dec 3, 2010 in Miscellaneous News

We will be working on the following holiday schedule this year:

December 21 – 5 PM Central Time – deadline to order for shipping before we close for the holidays! Orders placed on December 22 and 23 MAY ship before we close, depending on the volume of orders received.

December 24 – January 2 – We will be closed for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, year-end physical inventory, upgrades to our website and shopping cart, and moving to a new mailing list service for sending our newsletters. Orders can be placed during this time, but they will not ship until we reopen on Monday, January 3rd. At times, trying to access our website may give you a message saying that the site is offline for maintenance – please don’t be concerned, just try again in an hour or two. (Some upgrades to the shopping cart require that we take the site offline in order to install them.) We apologize in advance for any inconvenience that may cause.

January 3 – We reopen for business as usual!

We wish you a happy holiday season, and look forward to serving you in 2011! Watch for exciting announcements to come – more new air freshener shapes, a line of “budget” fragrance oils, and more!!

 
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Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday

Posted by OakCourt on Nov 23, 2010 in Miscellaneous News

Hi all,

Just a quick note to remind everyone that we will be closed Thursday-Sunday to enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend with family.

For those of you looking for a deal, don’t miss our Black Friday sale. You can save an additional 10% off our already low prices – even on clearance and sale-priced items! Just use the coupon code LEFTOVERS when you check out.

We hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

 
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Changes to our checkout

Posted by OakCourt on Oct 27, 2010 in Miscellaneous News, Uncategorized

*** If you don’t see a comment box at the end of this post, CLICK ON THE ACORN at the top of this post to leave us a comment ***

We are implementing some improvements to our payment processing, and wanted to make you aware of it, so you’re not surprised when you get to the payment section of the checkout page! (vbg)

We’re changing over from running credit cards manually through a terminal in our office, with printed charge receipts, to a payment gateway that will pass the credit card info directly to our bank for processing. This will NOT automatically charge your card – we are setting it up to only hold the funds from your available credit, and we will actually approve charges to be made at the time your order is ready to ship.

Changes you’ll see will include:

1) No more thermal printed charge receipts to attach to orders, or that will fade over time. This saves labor on our end, and allows us to keep our prices low. It also saves paper, making it more environmentally responsible. The invoice in your box will be for your records, but will not mention the credit card payment. Rest assured that if you receive your order, your card has been charged. (g)

2) Credit cards that are declined will not submit a completed order to our cart, so if you accidentally type in the card number incorrectly, it will bounce it back to you and say that the charge could not be approved. It will ask you to check that your billing address and zip code are correct, and that you’ve typed in the three-digit card verification code from the back of your card correctly – it will not approve your transaction if these are not correct. This is a security measure designed to prevent against fraud. Therefore, it’s EXTREMELY important that you check your billing and shipping addresses at checkout, to make sure that they are correct and that your billing address is the one where you receive your credit card statements. If those are not correct, it’s possible that your credit card payment will not be approved.

3) The page asking you to verify that your information is correct, and asking you to submit the transaction for approval, will have our logo at the top. It is NOT, however, hosted on our servers. This is an additional security measure to protect your data even more than we already had been protecting it. (Our website and office network have been scanned by McAfee Secure, and passed with flying colors. We’re just waiting to get our actual PCI Compliance certificate.) It’s absolutely safe to submit your information through our gateway, which is called PayFlow Pro.

4) This new system will also allow us to run pre-sales and fast buys more easily. We can have you place your order, pulling the product from the inventory count of the items that were ordered and holding them for you. We’ll know immediately that your card is good for the amount that will be due, and you’ll know that you will not actually be charged until we ship the merchandise. That allows us to follow our bank’s requirements for processing – that we don’t actually charge you until within a day or two of the shipment date, and still be able to take orders ahead of receiving the product in-house.

5) Please be sure to click “Continue Shopping” when you get the confirmation screen showing that the payment transaction is approved. If you close the window, instead of clicking that button, the payment is sent, but our shopping cart may not be notified that the order has been completed. The order may go into “incomplete” status, and will still be processed, but the processing can be delayed by anywhere from several hours to a day. When we receive confirmation of the payment receipt, we will locate the incomplete order and change its status to “completed”.

Right now, we’re running final tests to make sure everything is working properly before we set it to go “live” to handle customer transactions. We’re anticipating on having it live no later than Friday, October 29th. In the meantime, there will be a form of payment in the list at checkout labeled “TEST – PLEASE DO NOT USE”. Please don’t use it. LOL If you do, it will not actually submit your order to us because it can’t authorize your credit card. Once we go live, that will be replaced by a single option for credit card payment, instead of the individual links for the different card types that we had been using.

There may be some kinks to iron out at the beginning, but we firmly believe that we’re investing our time, frustration getting the setup done, and money in this because it’s a big improvement over our current credit card processing method. We really appreciate your patience with us while we change over to the new system.

If you have any questions or problems using the new credit card payment gateway, please call me at 877-OAK-COURT (toll-free) or e-mail me at info@oakcourtcreations.com. Thanks!

Brenda

 
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Lots of new air freshener shapes!

Posted by OakCourt on Oct 5, 2010 in New Products, Uncategorized

Over the past few weeks, we’ve added LOTS of new air freshener shapes to the shopping cart. All of these are available for immediate shipment!

We have several more that will be coming soon – they’re in the production stage now. These include the dress, ladybug, fire hydrant, lighthouse, scalloped-edge square, and scalloped-edge circle. We’ll let you know via this blog as soon as they are available.

Here are some image links to the shapes added recently – click for a better look:






























CLICK ON THE ACORN at the top of this post if you'd like to leave us a comment! Thanks.

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Laboring on the Labor Day weekend…

Posted by OakCourt on Sep 5, 2010 in New Products, Uncategorized

Happy Labor Day! There’s no resting around here… LOL Even though it’s a holiday weekend, I can’t resist trying to get caught up with some things that need doing around here.

The new air freshener shapes are hitting the shopping cart slowly but surely….. the first ones up are the seasonal ones for fall, since it’s almost here! I added the Candy Corn, Football Helmet and Acorn shapes this afternoon, and will be adding more over the next few days.

My scanner died not long ago, and I splurged on a fancy one. Now, of course, I had to figure out all of the settings and tweaks again, and it took me all afternoon to create a pre-set to scan the new air freshener shapes properly, with the right contrast, brighness, color balancing, and so forth. I couldn’t get them to look like the scans we’ve had in the cart over the past few years! So I decided that the new shapes would have a different color background, and I would do what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – clean up the pics, make all the thumbnails the same size and shape, and generally make the new scans even better than the old ones.

Naturally, though, it’s made me want to re-scan all of our existing shapes to make the pictures uniform. Nothing like creating myself extra work on what’s supposed to be a holiday weekend off! (vbg) Then I’ll need to change the variety pack that has one of every shape in it, and add products for the new shapes in “slightly imperfects”, and…. well, you get the idea!

Anyway, I hope you’ll check out the new shapes and watch over the next few days as I add even more of them. You can access them in the “new arrivals” or “what’s new” links on the home page of our site. The images below link to the shopping cart, where you can see a larger picture!


 
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SFIC Soap Base – changes

Posted by OakCourt on Aug 25, 2010 in Miscellaneous News, New Products, Uncategorized

Just when you think things are rolling along smoothly…. LOL

We love SFIC to death around here. Their melt and pour soap bases are excellent quality, affordable, and they offer a large selection of different varieties. They’re pleasant people to deal with, and ship quickly. BUT, we really do wish they’d make up their minds on how they want to package the bases! (vbg)

When we first started offering their products, they shipped them as two-pound shrinkwrapped logs. Then they switched to one-pound shrinkwrapped blocks. The best change yet (in our opinion, anyway) was when they changed to two-pound resealable, microwaveable, reusable, recyclable plastic tubs with snap-on lids.

We found out recently that they are switching yet again, back to one-pound shrinkwrapped blocks. Apparently plastic resin has gone way up in price, so the price of the tubs has, too. They had a choice – increase their wholesale prices slightly, to cover the cost of the labor to shrinkwrap the blocks, or increase them significantly, to cover the higher price of the tubs. They chose to increase their prices as little as possible, a decision which we respect, because it means we won’t have to raise OUR prices very much, either. We will miss the plastic tubs, as they are very handy – but the shrinkwrapped blocks also mean smaller case sizes, which are easier to handle, and are also easier to ship. They take up less room in the box, and also eliminate any chance of the tubs being damaged if UPS drops a 100-lb. box on top of them. LOL

So we apologize for the inconvenience, but while they are changing over, when you order two pounds of base from us, it may come in the form of either one two-pound tub or two one-pound blocks. Once everything is changed over, we will update the website and change the pricing accordingly. We’ll post again here on the blog to let everyone know about the change – we sure don’t want anyone to order their “usual” number of tubs, only to get half as many pounds of soap base as they were expecting to!

Also, just a reminder…. in case you haven’t looked at all of the varieties lately, we now also have the Organic Oil White and Organic Oil Clear in stock. If you are looking to purchase full case quantities (50 lbs.) of cut-ups of any of their bases, please let us know. At this time, we don’t stock them, but would be happy to special order them for you. With our next order, we will be adding the regular White and Clear soap bases to our product line, in response to customer requests. Our goal for 2011 is to have some custom varieties made exclusively for us…. so we also would like to hear your suggestions for what kinds you’d like to see us offer.

Thanks, as always, for your business and support!

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Website issues today

Posted by OakCourt on Jun 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

You may experience difficulty in accessing pages with products and the shopping cart today. Our web host is having some technical issues, and as a result, they are moving the database that powers our shopping cart to a different server. While they are moving the database, you may not be able to access some pages, or the pages may load much more slowly than usual.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, but it can’t be helped, and moving the site should make the performance much better in the long term. Thanks for your understanding!

 
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Lots of new air freshener shapes!

Posted by OakCourt on Apr 8, 2010 in New Products, Uncategorized

I am so excited…. we got the first batch in of new air freshener shapes!   Now I’ve got to get them all photographed and up on the website.   (That’s the not-so-exciting part.  LOL)  We’ve actually had a couple of these for a few months because they were created in response to special requests, and we had to have more cut before having sufficient stock to put them in the cart.

Here are the new shapes that are not on the site yet – if you want any of these in 10-packs before they’re up on the site, just call us…. if you’re ordering a 100-pack, you can just include them in your list of what shapes you want and how many in the shopping cart.

Airplane
Baby Bottle
Baseball Cap – and the season just started!
Double Heart
Foot
Frog
Hand
Primitive Heart
Primitive Star
Square (rounded corners like our rectangle – can also be used as a diamond!)
Top Hat (think Uncle Sam, Leprechauns, Pilgrims, Prom, etc.)
Tulip

We also have dies in house for a bunch more shapes that will be released in batches of three or four every few months.  Budget restrictions prevented us from having them all cut at once, and anyway, where’s the fun in that?!?  I also didn’t think there would be a whole lot of interest in, say, acorns in April.   LOL   Here are some of the ones that are coming for summer and fall:

Acorn
Candy Corn
Cat
Dog
Fire Hydrant
Football Helmet
Hat (Ladies’ Red-Hat type!)
Horse’s Head
Ladybug
Lighthouse
Scalloped-Edge Circle
Scalloped-Edge Square
Tree #2 (more rounded and Christmas-y than our current tree, which will be renamed Tree #1)

We take your shape suggestions very seriously, and many (if not most!) of the shapes listed above were developed in response to customer requests.  Sometimes it takes a long time to make them a reality – those of you who’ve been waiting for the cat, the dog, and the horse’s head will know what I’m talking about! – but we don’t want to put out an inferior product, and I know you’ll think they were worth the wait!

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Trade show

Posted by OakCourt on Apr 3, 2010 in Miscellaneous News, New Products, Uncategorized

I got a last-minute invitation to attend a trade show this past week, and things fell into place so I could get away for a day.  YAY!

It was a very interesting show…. and it was really nice to be able to say hello to representatives from two of the fragrance houses we do business with and sniff some of their new offerings.  (And yes, they are sending samples for me to test!  LOL)  Would you believe one of the perfumers saw my name badge and remembered having done some custom formulating for me when we were first getting started selling supplies – 7 or 8 years ago??  I was really impressed that he not only remembered our company, but also exactly what fragrances he had created for me.

I walked the show floor for about 5 hours, at which time I’d visited all of the booths that were on my “must-see” list marked in my show program.   Much as I would have loved to browse a bit more and return to a couple of booths that looked interesting but were jammed with people when I approached them, by that point in time my bad back and bad ankle were protesting the abuse I’d been giving them, so it was time to call it a day.

I have a small rolling suitcase full of brochures, business cards, line cards, etc. to go through, and when we are ready, now have sources for a wide variety of items (many of which are warehoused locally in the Chicago area, so we can pick up orders and save on freight!).  These include, but are not limited to, botanical extracts, pigments and micas, exotic oils and butters, silicone derivatives like cyclomethicone and dimethicone, and additives like exfoliants and herbs.   Let’s just say I won’t have ANY problems at all spending our buying budget for the rest of the year….. LOL

I’m eager to hear from all of you as to what you’d like us to purchase first.  Please add comments to this post and share your “wish list” with us!  We always welcome your feedback, but especially in terms of what you want us to add to our product line.

 
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Update on products from the Synergy

Posted by OakCourt on Apr 3, 2010 in New Products, Uncategorized

Some of you have e-mailed to ask when these items will be available.   The best way for me to address this is probably on a product-by-product basis, so here goes:

IPM (Isopropyl Myristate) – This should be on the site in the next week or two.  We just need to work out pricing and package sizes (we’ve already found a local source to restock it), and research a bit more to provide you with info on how to use it effectively.

99% Isopropyl Alcohol – This one is  not going to happen.  Not only was the container damaged in transit, but I was told that we cannot ship it by UPS in any significant quantity without hazmat charges, due to it’s flammability, so I am not going to pursue it.

Perfumer’s Base – This was also damaged beyond salvageability in transit.  UPS tells me that we can ship in containers of 32 oz. or less, with multiple containers allowed in the same box, without a hazmat charge.  Sheila did point me to the supplier for this item, so I will be contacting them to find out how much we have to purchase at a time and to get pricing.   I want to bring this in ASAP, but much as I would love to have an unlimited buying budget, we don’t.   (sigh)

Bath Bomb Molds – I was able to find a source to reorder these, so they should be up on the site in the next week or two.

Green Tea and Chamomile Extracts – Sheila shared the company name that they were purchased from, but no other specifics.  Upon looking into it, I found that this company carries many different variations of each botanical extract, in different strengths and different solubilities (oil-soluble vs. water soluble).  So it’s impossible to order the exact same one from them without the specific item number, which I haven’t been able to get from her.  I will probably put these on our clearance page and try to find a reliable local source to carry them on a regular basis.

Exfoliating Beads – Sheila says she purchased these as a closeout, and they were 1) only available in blue and 2) are no longer available.  Again, I’ll take the loss and put them on the clearance page, and do my best to find a source to carry them on a regular basis – I may have already found a source for jojoba spheres, which are an even better alternative!

Fragrance Oils – Sheila told me that they were all purchased as closeouts, and did not share vendor information for them, even though she assured me before I ordered that she would provide the info for anything that I wanted to purchase.  These will probably end up on our clearance page.

Powdered Dead Sea Mud – The vendor info was on a label on the bucket, so we should be able to reorder!   I need to contact them to get pricing and lead time, and then will get it on the website (probably 1-2 weeks).

That should be everything – sorry the news wasn’t better.  I’m especially disappointed about the fragrance oils… the time to tell me that they were all closeouts and NOT available regularly should have been BEFORE I ordered them, not after the fact.   (I asked before placing my order if vendor info would be provided so I could reorder, and was assured in writing that it would be).  I e-mailed several weeks ago to ask her who she purchased them from as closeouts, since many fragrance houses will sell even “closeout” fragrances as a special-order item at a higher price, but never heard back from her.  If I ever do, I will definitely pursue them!

 

 

 

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