Monthly Archives: November 2015

No Semi-Truck Parking Allowed.

It would be absurd to suggest that we discuss anything this week but Thanksgiving, no?  Because let’s be real here…baking over a thousand pies in three days is seriously a topic to discuss extensively.

Today someone asked me how many pies we’ve made so far and put in the freezer for next week.


And the answer would be, well…none.  Because that’s not how this works.  (That’s not how any of this works.)

One of the more surprising things about last year’s Thanksgiving pickup process was the number of new customers who stopped by and was disappointed to find that we were pre-order only for the holiday.  And then most sighed and asked if we thought we would be getting another truck of pies in soon or if we had anything left in the freezer that could be defrosted.  TRUE STORY.

(As a side note, if I would have had a semi-truck full of pies scheduled to roll in, I probably wouldn’t have been covered in cocoa and crying.  Just saying.)

But that expectation certainly wasn’t the fault of the customer…it was more the learning curve for our first year in business and our lack of marketing dollars to spread the message that we bake each pie at PJP Buttonwood.  Like right there, in those 1,000 square feet, with the people you seeing standing there.  Every day (and well, all day) this time of year.  Which means that if you are picking up pie next Wednesday, we will probably start it around 1 am Wednesday morning.  Or maybe you’ll get one that has just come out of the oven.  (I love it when that happens.)

In order to prevent people from spending time in line next week to find out that we are pre-order pickup only, Jeanne is working on some great signage for the windows of Spare Space.  And in one our biggest moves (and perhaps one of my favorite this year), we’ve secured a few college men to serve as Pie Bouncers (Pie Ambassadors?  Pie Support?).  They will basically be present outside our doors to make sure the line is moving smoothly and that questions are answered promptly.  This should prevent anyone waiting in line to buy extra pies that we don’t have…but also easily sign up for the Pie Standby list for no-shows and extras at 5:30 pm on Wednesday.

They may even be able to help a bit with parking concerns.  At least I can tell them not to expect a semi-truck.




Make It Work.

As of late, I’ve fallen down the dangerous rabbit hole of late night binge watching Project Runway on Hulu.  And look, I don’t even really know how to sew, so whether or not someone is able to get the invisible zipper or the pleats done correctly is completely beyond my skill set.  But I am completely compelled by watching a whole group of talented people COMPLETELY FREAK OUT as they try to finish an entire outfit in 10 hours knowing that Michael Kors and Heidi Klum will be there to critique the final results.  There is crying, there is swearing, there is drama, there is questioning of one’s purpose and existence, and there is joy when a contestant is able to “make it work.”  (In short, it is PJP this time of year…minus the runway and the $100,000 grand prize.

And while I only took one semester of psychology in college, I’m self-aware enough to know that I’m basically distracting myself from my own concerns about Thanksgiving by watching other people survive high pressure situations while I lay on my couch with our dog and watch television.  I’m sure this is how all highly successful people got their start.  (Though, when I eventually write a book, I’m totally shouting out to Tim Gunn in the acknowledgements for being so nice to the contestants that I sometimes cry when I’m already feeling on the hinge.)

Yesterday afternoon, Behind-The-Scenes-Tech-Guru Jason, Jeanne, and I were reviewing the orders for next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.  And after seeing those numbers, we decided that choosing a hard deadline to close the ordering system was definitely in order.  If you recall, last year we left the ordering system open right to the day before the initial round of pickups.  And in retrospect, that was a piece of the puzzle that worked against us during pickups for Thanksgiving 2k14.  Essentially it caused us to not have complete data (Behind-The-Scenes-Tech-Guru Jason would make reports and then we would take an extra order here and there and it changed all the totals.)


Correct data is an essential part of this working seamlessly this year.  To that end, we are closing to orders at 6 pm on Wednesday, November 18th.  (Even if someone cries or tells me that they now hate us and they will never come to our store again.)  (But I will obsess about that for the next 10 months at least, just so we are all clear.)

Last year, one of my very first (of many) epic meltdowns came when our pickup reports were completely out of order.  The staples would fall out and within the hour, you might find page two on the front counter and page 16 on the back boxing table.  It almost sent me over the edge.  This year, I’ll be going straight to Staples or Office Depot or any one of those other office supply/copy center stores and having multiple copies of the pickup report spiral bound.  And possibly tattooed on my body.

So, if you haven’t ordered yet, but you want your name in that report, be sure to stop by the store or call us or order online by Wednesday at 6 pm.  I think it is what Tim wants for us both.

make it work


As you might expect, we are starting to feel the Thanksgiving 2k15 pressure.  A person stopped by a few days ago with some questions about ordering and then with a giant sigh, she said “well…I’m going to order, but only if you can stand here and promise me the process will be better than last year.”


I guess she thought I was normally covered in cocoa, without sleep for 36 hours, and crying?  Because that was awesome…said no one ever.

We’ve spent weeks (maybe months) talking about our improved process for this year.  And we’ve made some substantial moves toward being ready…primarily renting Spare Space.  And ordering pie boxes, pie tins, and bags in quantities that actually caused our pie tin vendor to call and verify that I hadn’t accidentally pressed the wrong button on my keyboard when I ordered.

We’ve thought about t-shirts and lunch for staff and volunteers each day, what days the food trucks will come and restock our supply, how we will divide up the pickup tables alphabetically, what the signage will look like, and ordered enough Dasani water to hydrate us all the way through the long days and nights.  We have a plan for tables in Spare Space and a plan for those who want to be on the Pie Standby list (for any extras we might have at 5:30 on Wednesday night).  Behind-The-Scenes Tech Guru Jason has made reports and sliced data in ways I didn’t even know possible (but I can now tell you precisely how many mincemeat pies we have due for pickup between 12:30 and 2 on Tuesday, November 24th) (two, if you are curious).

I actually had a dream on Tuesday night that Gunnar had broken his elbow and was texting me pictures of his completely immobilized arm from the emergency room and his doctor’s note that he couldn’t bake pies until December 1st.  It was so realistic that only waking up and looking at my phone to prove that Gunnar wasn’t in the ER at 3 am (thankfully) could calm me down.  (I’ve since made each PJP employee promise me that during the next 10 days, they won’t skateboard, roller skate, rollerblade, ice skate, bungee jump, parachute, fall out of a deer stand, jump on a trampoline, play paintball, participate in a mosh pit, ride a scooter, mountain climb, base jump, go spelunking, or ride a bull.)

So clearly, the whole Thanksgiving thing has been on my mind.  Just a little bit.  Ahem.

Oh, and lady who sighed and then asked if we were making any changes to improve on last year and then reluctantly ordered?  You’ll totally be glad you did.