Now that was a question which floored me.
'How does this Mail Order thing work then?'
For me 'Mail Order' was something that was always around. When I was young, you could get ENORMOUS mail order catalogues from various companies. They sold everything from clothes to toys, household furnishings to musical instruments, record players to hampers.
When we started Raven there was no such thing as the internet, and we knew that our market was both niche and specialist, not something that everyone who lived in our area would be likely to be interested in. We knew that our customers were going to be dotted about all over the country, and the only way to reach them was through offering a Mail Order Service.
So we started off making the Raven Catalogue. At first it was maybe half a dozen pages, printed out from our Amstrad computer, on a dot matrix printer. There was no way you could have pictures, so everything had to be described.
Gradually we invested in better printers, does anyone remember the Gestetner printers? A huge beast of thing which you had to create stensils for and printed using big tubes of black printers ink. Then we got a photocopier! Yay! Pictures were in!
Actually I tend to still draw pictures of our products as I feel people can actually get a clearer idea of details with a line drawing.
Anyway, sorry got distracted there. So how does this Mail Order thing work then?
It is a very simple thing. You ask us for a copy of our catalogue, and you will be sent, through the post, a set of catalogues. Our catalogue is divided into sections, to make it easier for customers to find what they are after, and to make it easier for us to update a section, rather than having to update the full thing. So you get: The Postal Bookshop - mainly our own books on a variety of magical subjects, written and published by us, and largely unattainable elsewhere. The Earth Treasures section - all gemstones and crystals, together with an index of magical and healing uses, so you can pick which gems are the ones you need. The Incense section, joss sticks, incense cones, natural resins, together with burners and containers. Magical Oils section, all of the oils/perfumes listed are hand made individually for each customer when they are ordered, ensuring the freshest and most individual products you can have. And the Main Catalogue which has all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff in it, divination sets, Witch Bottles, talismans, charms, jewellery, decorations for home and magical space, anything that we come across. A lot of the stuff we sell is made by specialist makers, and very often is exclusive to Raven.
Once you have the catalogue, you sit down with a cup of coffee, tea or the beverage of your preference, and have a good read through. If you come across anything you fancy, you write it down on the Order Form (remembering to put your name and address at the top - please!) then send the Order Form with a cheque, postal order, or cash, through the post (Mail) to Raven at the address printed on all the catalogues and on the Order Form too. Yes we do take Credit/Debit cards so you can send us your card details if you prefer. Oh and if you lose your Order Form, no problem just write what you want on any piece of paper, as long as I can decipher it, all is well.
You can also just give me a ring (01482 632512) with your list and card details, and I will take your order over the phone. I can also let you know whether items are in stock or have sold out, and sometimes recommend an alternative.
Even if you are going to send in your order form to us, you can ring up and speak to me to reserve items for you, so that you know you will get the things you are after.
We also send out irregular Newsletters and special catalogues of all sorts of limited availability stuff to anyone on our Mailing List. In our Newsletter, we try to keep everyone as up to date a possible with what is going on at Raven, and also include articles on magical topics, poetry, 'Dates for Your Diary' and even have a free section for people to put in personal adverts for pen pals or magical contacts.
There are an awful lot of people out there who do not have access to the Internet. Or who do not trust the security of on-line sites, or who simply can't order online, or really do not want to. Incidentally when we first set up our page on Facebook, we could put ourselves down as 'Mail Order Company' a few years later Facebook scrapped this category, so we had to choose something else, which is why we are labelled a 'Bookshop' which is only a small part of what we do.
We have been in business, doing what we do for over THIRTY years now. Our customers trust us, some of them have been with us from the beginning, and a lot of them have become friends over the years too, which is lovely.
So how does this Mail Order thing work then?
Well, for us and our customers, the answer is - nicely, thank you.