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I realize that the Stack Exchange store closed due to logistics. Why not re-open? I understand that 'swag' feels better when you've earned it, but can't you at least make different shirts that say something like 'Trusted User' that differentiate the swag earned and the swag paid for?

Also, who says that you have to handle the swag sales yourselves? I know that recently, a Stack Exchange shirt appeared in Startup Threads bags- why can't you ask Startup Threads to handle the sale of your shirts for you? For dealing with slow sales, why don't you have set limited-time timeframes where users can purchase it, just to make it a little bit more exclusive and produce a sales 'rush'? (kind of like MailChimp, except their shirts are free)

All questions summed up: In light of all these solutions, is it possible for the Stack Exchange store to open again?

update: I recently got a hold of Frank Denbow from Startup Threads, who said that he might look into setting this up for SE- all we can do now is hope...

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2 Answers

The main gist of Michael Pryor's answer to the store closing question was:

The long story is, we have a lot of remote employees in different states. Our sales tax burden for selling tangible goods started to become an administration nightmare. We also couldn't justify the costs of either having someone at the office ship swag or paying a fulfillment house to do it for us (we were doing both).

These circumstances remain the same. Since our company is technically located in many different states (and countries), we are liable for more types of taxes in more locations if we sell tangible goods, regardless of who handles the fulfillment.

The logistical hassle of shipping stuff out and the "non-limited-edition-ness" of selling our swag are secondary issues to this tax stuff.

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We outsourced a lot of the store-related tasks, so it wasn't a matter of trying to do everything ourselves. Still, any project you take on always requires some investment of resources — and the choices we make will inevitably draw people away from other things they could be working on.

The store was a great idea, and sometimes it was a lot of fun. It was created to allow avid users to pick up a small keepsake, something to show off, and a personal reminder of what we are all achieving here.

But on balance, there wasn't much demand for it. The concept of having a store was much more attractive than folks actually had use for. The amount of work we were putting into it became disproportionate to what folks were actually getting out of it. So it was time to move on.

Yes, we could have worked out the logistics issues, or driven store sales higher by devoting more time to marketing and developing partnerships; but we are not a merchandizing company. That's not what we are here for. So when the administration started to become a nightmare, we felt it was more prudent to devote those resources to things like [insert your favorite feature here].

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I only regret I was too mean to pay the postage on the beer mug :( But it was a significant proportion of the cost when shipping internationally. –  ChrisF Sep 18 '12 at 15:24
    
that's a shame....What if you used a site where you upload logo and people can buy any type of swag with logo on it. Or make it non-profit to solve the tax issues, and use the money to pay for designing contests! (on second thought, feel free to disregard this comment which is trying to oversimplify the burden here :P ) –  d-_-b Sep 23 '12 at 23:51
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