The last three days I've been struggling with my air freight service, Yamato Transport, as they've managed to royally mess up the shipment of my dragon beard candy. They failed to arrange service on June 30 because of China Airlines had some reluctance to handle food shipments to the U.S., and they didn't arrange a backup in time to ship that day, and didn't inform my supplier of the problem until the air cargo offices were closed for the day. July 1, of course, happened to be a public holiday in Hong Kong, and so I heard zero news from Yamato yesterday until evening, when my supplier and I started beating up the Yamato Hong Kong office by telephone and email. By 11 pm here, or about 3 pm Hong Kong time, Yamato had finally gotten some sort of arrangement, but they had been so slow to inform us about what was going on that we didn't trust them to complete the shipment successfully anymore.
Yamato, once they got arrangements confirmed, also neglected to follow my instructions to get the product here as directly as possible, instead trying to route the cargo through Los Angeles and truck it up to Seattle. Since Monday, July 5 is a public holiday in the United States, customs clearance would be unlikely to be complete until at least Wednesday. That means, if all went smoothly, the product would be in my hands on Friday, which is one day before the street fair where I'm debuting the product.
So last night, Dragon Rich, the dragon beard candy maker in Hong Kong, contacted their usual freight forwarder, Maersk, to seek another freight arrangement option in parallel, and by 3 AM Seattle time had made arrangements to transport to Vancouver, BC by air, most likely on Saturday morning Hong Kong time. It should only take four hours or so for the surface transport from Vancouver, so customs clearance on Monday or Tuesday should be the end point of the critical path instead of another two days of surface transport. My supplier's diligence about arranging an alternative was truly impressive and they took some financial risks on my behalf, which I really appreciate.
I dozed off a couple of times between 1 am and 3 am, but around 3:30 or so I was finally able to sleep after the marketing manager in Singapore had clarified the most important details. I got about 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but at least I have some confidence that my shipment will get here in time.
All of the advertisements were ready to go on Tuesday and some publicity was arranged. On Wednesday, the Northwest Asian Weekly asked me to bring them some other photos for a story they were running, so I went down there and took some product shots. The newspaper came out Thursday morning. It turns out the story is very similar to my press release, so it was kind of a funny experience reading it.