Thursday, November 10, 2022

Eric

I was saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of my old friend Eric Fuller.

It had been a long time since Eric first contacted me by email. In 2005, Eric was very early in his puzzle making business and he wanted to know if my puzzle designs could be used in his business. I never heard his name until then but anyways, I replied OK to him because there was no reason to deny his offer, and I thought that he was gentle and polite.

One day, I received a parcel from Eric containing Two by Three puzzles. To be honest, I thought his work was not that much better than similar burr puzzles made by Japanese craftsmen. The puzzles that Eric made were not coated and the tolerances were a bit too loose, and I thought to myself, if business can be done with such things, the US must be easy. In hindsight, he may not have owned the superior machines and tools that he does today.

Each time he sent me a designer's copy of a puzzle he made, the quality improved. He always cared about the puzzle designers and was willing to pay royalties.

My first face to face encounter with Eric was at an IPP (International Puzzle Party). He found me and started telling me that he would like to produce more of my designed puzzles using exotic timber. He looked very shy and humble, perhaps because he didn't have a Mohican hairstyle back then. My wife and I often call mischievous cockatoos that come to our backyard Eric, by the way.

I left Japan with my wife in 2011 and moved to Australia, and when I applied for a work visa in 2013, I asked Eric if he could write a reference letter for me. Eric immediately responded to my request, knowing that my business sponsor (Mr Puzzle) and I would be a potential competitor for his business. I thanked him and told him I should buy him a glass of beer in the future. Additionally, when my wife and I started our puzzle business, Eric was kind enough to give us information on what kind of circular saw blades, dado blades, and coatings he used. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to meet him at the IPP in Paris in 2017 and had the chance to return the favor.

I continued to collaborate with Eric and he has proven that we can share this puzzle world. He promised to show me his workshop if I had the opportunity to visit the US. The last time I received an email from Eric was only a month ago. He was discussing about his future project involving a puzzle I had recently designed.

He was too young. It was a great loss to his family, friends and the puzzle world. Rest in peace my friend.

Juno

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Ovoloid

Our latest product is Ovoloid, very complex level 21 burr puzzle. Five kinds of wood were used to create this puzzle: Bubinga (sap wood), Tasmanian Myrtle, Fijian Mahogany, Camphor Laurel, and Wenge, and their textures make for a fascinating puzzle.



This will be our last puzzle to be released towards Christmas. Several of our puzzle products are in progress, some of which will be released near the end of 2022.

Happy Puzzling!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Kumikisaurus, 25th Puzzle Auction Results

We have released the dinosaur-shaped burr puzzle Kumikisaurus yesterday. The burr offers a unique level 10-13 solution and reasonable difficulty. At the moment, we have only five in stock, so the puzzle may sell out soon.


Our 25th puzzle auction event ended on 17th September. We put up three 2nd grade Mittan and three Penta Cuboids.


The total sales amount reached a stunning AUD $3,645. As promised, we donated half of the sales, AUD $1,825, to the local food bank. We usually donate to animal welfare organizations, but under COVID-19 and high commodity prices, we decided to contribute to the local food bank this time.

Here is the receipt for the donations.


Usually, I would be delighted with the total sales, but this was different.

The winner, who was supposed to get two puzzles, suddenly said he didn't want to pay the amount he had bid. He entered the wrong amounts and didn't notice them until he received congratulatory notices. Although there must be chances to check his auction activities, he probably hadn't visited the auction pages until auctions ended. It was too late to receive his request to change or cancel his proxy (automatic) bidding amount.

We cannot sell puzzles to someone without the intention to pay for the winning bid, so we have cancelled his bids. After that, we thoroughly checked the bidding history for the auctions, including the one the man did not bid for, to find the reasonable winning amount not affected by the cancelled bidding. It was AUD $603 to guarantee fairness to all auction bidders.

Then, we offered two people in the second and third positions in the Mittan auctions if they wanted to buy the puzzle for AUD $603. Fortunately, both of them were happy with the proposal.

We also offered AUD $242 discount to the winner whose winning bid was AUD $845. Although those who made unintended high bids did not join this auction, it was reasonable to consider it was also affected by the other auction results since many bidders were chasing three (almost) identical puzzles.

Our actual auction sales amount was reduced to AUD $2,866. Our donation to the food bank was AUD $1,825, which is tax deductible, but we still pay a hefty tax on sales. Considering the transaction fee to the shop system cost for the auction App, and so on, our income through these auctions will be around AUD $800. Thankfully, the winning bids of three Penta Cuboids became quite high, but without that, we might have ended up in the red.

It's not only the money. We had to spend extra time solving this problem. If you have experience running an online shop, you may know it's not easy to handle something irregular.

Running a business isn't easy. It's the same as running in a grassy meadow; you cannot tell where the pit hole is.