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Topic: Sticker Train Talk (Share ideas to cut costs)

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Subject: Sticker Train Talk (Share ideas to cut costs)
Date Posted: 1/14/2017 12:42 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2013
Posts: 1,251
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Happy Saturday first of all to all! Old news, but forever most sincere, a huge thank you to all for keeping our sticker trains growing and running for so very long. :)

Our current Train 11 is headed to Kim from which it will arrive it's last stop of Sarah's house! Thank you to all, especially those of you in wintry weather, for truly keeping this train moving so well.

I have PM-ed with a number of you now. Thank you so much for all your listening and ideas. We are at a place now after 11 trains in finishing, where it is time to halt the trains truly to reevaluate the process. Fuel (postage) costs are indeed rising. Passengers are not feeling completely comfortable being aboard (cost and not getting to see so much of the cargo) I truly apologize for that. I pray to have been clear from the beginning that I wish these trains to be inviting for all to hop aboard and a fun way of spreading cheer while building friendships.

$8+ is not something I am able to afford each time. I also don't feel cmfortable heading up something long term like these trains that I know will incur this type of cost each time. I would feel terrible should anyone want to join in but choose not to do so due to cost. Or if someone on board felt stuck in an awkward mailing situation in terms of postage. Of course, we want everyone to get to see as much of the selection as possible.

So...how can we lower costs and also simplifiy the process? I am aware, that from near the start of the trains, some of you have suggested we do two routes each time. I would still prefer we keep ging with one train, but recognize maybe we should try two  :) Also, always, please know not for a minute are these trains supposed to be about me, that is not me at all! I am old fashioned in terms of snail mail. E-mail, PM's, our posts on these threads, are all such a positive thing and wonderful at how instant the communication is. I still always have an extra smile to receive a piece of friendly mail by snail. I still LOVE that we take care and time to be sure each passenger on our trains eventually gets a card signed by everyone else on board. All of you know I enjoy stickers tremendously :D More than that, I value each of your friendships and the gift God gave me when He had us meet and come together and for these trains. Let us come together now, to reignite our sticker trains for the New Year.

Please post here any ideas you have for going forward.

Would you like to try 2 trains once and see what happens? If we vote to try this, I do ask that someone aboard the train I am not a passenger on, head that up.  We are at the place now where the next train (train 12) started by Sarah is to have a card aboard for Jennifer in TX. Train 13, started by Jennifer was to be for Cheryl in NorCal. We could do half and half on those.

My opinion is if we do two trains, it would be so much easier (for me, for sure :) to have two split groups that would remain in tact (whoever is board them can change the direction each train) for the duration of the cycle--until each passenger has both started and received a card. This would ineed mean no new sign ups every round. The train would restart within the same group. Does this make sense?

As much as I might like one train still, I am not sure how we can cut costs. I want everyone to feel free to take as many stickers always as they like. We do ask that each person put back on a minimum of two sheets. That and FUN for all, IMO, should be the only "rules." Other than perhaps the last call envelope. Simple and smooth, lol :)

Thank you, all of you for taking time to read through all this. Please add to it, share ideas. Then let us come to a group agreement on how to go forward. Happy Weekend. God Bless You.

 

 

 

 



Last Edited on: 1/14/17 1:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 1/14/2017 3:07 PM ET
Member Since: 1/6/2008
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Last Edited on: 3/18/17 10:56 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/14/2017 6:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 780
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I agree with Larkspur Jane. I will not be continuing in Sticker Trains due to cost. But will help keep it bumped.

Date Posted: 1/14/2017 8:00 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2013
Posts: 1,251
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Hugs to you both. I am definitely committed to making sure Jennifer and Cheryl get their cards. I should be honest and say, depending what is decided, in this thread, I may need to take a break for a while after that. So..let's finish up Train 11 and figure out how best to get Trains 12 and 13 down the track in a happier and cheaper for all manner. Form there, we shall see. Thanks again, all! :)

Editing to add because I realized Renee posted, thank you :) Seasonal trains are a great idea. I should have said earlier than a fellow friend and passenger on our trains suggested a while back having themed trains. Other stickers would be welcome, of course, there'd just be a main theme and/or we could try to ask each end person for a favorite choice and do our best to have some on board.

The only real reason I like doing trains back to back is because it is much easier to keep track of that way in terms of making sure each person both starts a train and receives their card. Also, to be sure folks know when the train is. I definitely think a break might be refreshing. We could even try to start trains a month or month in a a half prior to each season so folks get that months' season/theme more on time.

Keep the ideas coming :)

 



Last Edited on: 1/14/17 8:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/14/2017 8:02 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2015
Posts: 746
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I have a suggestion.  What if there weren't AS MANY trains?  Instead of starting a new train as soon as one finishes, have a train delay.  My suggestion would be for a "seasonal" train: one in the Fall, one in the Winter, one in the Spring and one in the Summer.  This would cut down on costs, because it wouldn't be shipped as often, but would maintain the amount of stickers and all of the passengers.

Additionally, I would be interested in knowing in advance what types of stickers other train participants are looking for.  This would allow me to decide which of my stickers are really wanted and I could plan what to put on the train based on the passengers after me.  For instance, if Larkspur Jane was looking for Minions stickers and Sophia was looking for Valentine stickers and I happen to have some in my personal stash and they are the next stop, I may choose to send those along, knowing they would be chosen and therefore "lighten the load."



Last Edited on: 1/14/17 8:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2017 12:19 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2013
Posts: 719
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I totally LOVE Renee's idea! That gives people time to get stickers that they come across that are unique or just plain interesting ect.. to add to the train. You can get stickers on clearence seasonally sometimes. I like the seasonal idea, honestly it sounds about the same anyway,  by the time we get to the end of the train its been several months though right? Before it comes back to the person who rides.. So then it wouldnt change anything in the end I think perhaps by a month. Theres what 3 months to a season...It takes 2 months I think to finish a train or am I wrong? Renee;'s idea would extend the train by a month, yes?

With 2 trains...would there be enough unique stickers if you dont have as many peeps riding..



Last Edited on: 1/15/17 12:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2017 4:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2015
Posts: 746
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I am a fairly new passenger, but I think that sounds right Katherine(Kimberlyrav).  It would be 2 less trains per year, which would cut costs, only doing it 4 times per year. 

Another option would be to do a Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer train, which would only be 2 trains per year, which would REALLY cut costs.

Another idea would be to stop the train and have a sticker partner swap.  For example:  In January I might be partnered up to trade stickers with Jeanne and in March I might be partnered up to trade stickers with Sarah and in May I might be partnered up to trade stickers with Mona.  Then we would each just send a few sheets to someone and each individual can decide how many sheets they can afford to send that month.  Of course that defeats the purpose of the train.....

I am just trying to brainstorm ideas that everyone can participate in and afford.

Date Posted: 1/15/2017 4:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2015
Posts: 746
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Sorry, Mona, I didn't realize you edited your post until after my last post!

I like the idea of themed trains.  Perhaps the last rider (the one that is getting the card) should choose the theme (I think Mona already suggested this!).  Or the first rider that begins the train can choose the theme based on the types of stickers she/he has.  It wouldn't necessarily have to be a seasonal theme......or we could have multiple themes, like Train 1 is apples and pumpkins, Train 2 is Movies or Book Characters, Train 3 is Farm Animals....and we could decide those themes a year in advance, so passengers are able to prepare in advance when they are purchasing/obtaining stickers

The Themed trains would cut costs, because passengers would be limited to putting in only stickers about that particular theme (no extras) which would lessen the weight. 



Last Edited on: 1/15/17 4:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/15/2017 6:38 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2013
Posts: 1,251
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That is a wonderful point Kimmy, thank you, about seasonal stickers and sales on them near or after the end of their season. Also, places like Hobby Lobby often have 40% on a season and most always do so much ahead of time. In December, for example, they already had some Valentine stuff out. Yes, trains do take a good two months, sometimes a bit longer. I have loved how rapid this last train has gone! I definitely think two groups, a big positive, is faster turnaround which was what I was always wanting for the trains in general, to keep the process active so it's more fun.

Renee, I am so glad you have joined us! Thank you also for your enthusiasm and ideas :) I am feeling brighter about our trains now.

The themed/seasonal does sound like fun and as has been said a good way to save money and also focus in on cargo so it is newer.

Right now, we have Sarah who would start Train 12 for Jennifer in TX and Jennifer in TX who would start Train 13 for Cheryl in Nor Cal.

Looking way ahead, three riders for cards after that would be: Renee, Jacqueline,  and Sara, This is if we finished out everyone aboard right now before starting signups all over--so no new riders at this time. How do all of you feel about that?  I think if we did that, we may need to consider email contact or having someone make a sticker train.

Hope everyone has had a Blessed Sunday! Thank you again for all ideas  :)

P.S. I do like your matching idea Renee. These trains actually got going because of something similar! A small group of maybe 6 of us would send one another stickers during each other's birthday months. So there was no pairing (I don't think) just a way to be sure everyone had some extra birthday month fun.



Last Edited on: 1/15/17 11:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2017 11:33 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 780
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Just an idea:

People seemed to like the idea of two trains. Well what if there were two smaller trains being run by two individual riders? Would this cut costs?



Last Edited on: 1/16/17 6:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/16/2017 5:05 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,487
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The themed trains aren't an attraction for me, but I do agree we need to get the mailing costs way down from $8 per package. I think the previous ones I participated in ( I wasn't in every round) were only up to $4.   I can buy many, many more stickers for $8 at the dollar stores  than I took out this round so value-wise it wasn't worth it for me.

I agree with the 2 train idea, but really like Renee's idea of sticker partners trading with just one other person each month or season. That way everyone still gets some mail, and we still have signups for each train so people can jump on or off as needed for their schedules and budgets. 



Last Edited on: 1/16/17 5:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/16/2017 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2013
Posts: 1,251
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We could ask each end person what their one preference was at that time and do our best to include that type of sticker for them. Whether that becomes ALL the train carries is secondary. I definitely am in agreement that we need to try two trains as soon as this current one is finished. We can go from there afterward. Just to be clear, the next trains will be Sarah starting a train for Jennifer in TX and Jennifer in TX starting a train for Cheryl in NorCal. I don't usually like to do sign ups for a new train in a current train's thread, especially without having yet checked with Sarah and Jennifer to be sure this is okay, but who aboard this train would be aboard the next two trains? Anyone brand new,, please PM me. I think this train 11 should be done within the next week and a half or so.

We could definitely try separate matches for seasons and/or birthdays (which I think would be easier to keep track of). I would ask that once we figure out the partners, if you all want lol I can out names in my Santa hat again or whatever  you wish, that the partners work out the trade themselves.

One other consideration, is I know a new memebership cycle will be starting soon. At this moment, I will not be rejoining PBS. I definitely do check my email a few times daily though.

One final time, let me just say again I am sorry for the costs rising so much. To me, even if everyone aboard currently could afford the postage at $10 (I can't)! I would still not feel right about continuing to head up the trains. I would always want anyone new or old to feel welcome to join and have the focus be on fun and friendships not dollars. Thank you all for helping get our trains back on a happier track.

God Bless You!

Date Posted: 1/16/2017 9:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 780
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Well said Mona!

Date Posted: 1/16/2017 9:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2015
Posts: 746
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I have really enjoyed the trains that I have been on.  However, postage costs are rising again (I think this week).  It will be impossible to keep the costs low just based on the weight of the cargo travelling from person to person (even with 2 trains.)  Even Media Mail is going up! 

The more I think about it the more I think the sticker partner swap is the way to go if the goal is to keep the costs minimal.  This way everyone can decide to send a few sheets to one person and the cargo can ship First Class. 

I would like to hear what the "veterans" of the trains suggest as they have obviously changed gears a few times over the years!

Mona, I am sorry to hear that you may not be renewing your membership.  That makes me sad.

Date Posted: 1/16/2017 9:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2015
Posts: 746
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I do plan to be on the next train or trains (if it is two.)  So, please add me to the list to sign up.

Date Posted: 1/16/2017 11:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 780
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As a veteran of about 2 years  I remember when we had a list of names and everyone contributed one or two sheets and the cost was at most $3.00.  Now I understand postal costs go up but still we weren't adding packages which although very thoughtful it makes it costly. Possibly send these separately? What is sticker partner swap?

Date Posted: 1/17/2017 8:10 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2013
Posts: 719
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If it was thin enough I shipped it LARGE ENVELOPE which costed only 1.90. Mona and I started this train by a convo lol. I got busy.... she saw it through.  I like the train period. The way it is and was.  If there is a two train your gonna need to make sure and swap up the riders each time cause if Cheryl wasnt on my train Id be heartbroken lol. She really added to it with those surprise bags. I LOVED that idea. It worked well cause she put in several so that each rider could get one from each bag. I loved that surprise method.

Also if the stickers arrive safely, Id like to ask not to critize someone for the way they package the stickers. Why do that? People can see what you say you know.  No one means for a package to get hurt or to look silly. Cheap shots.

I hate your leaving Mona, does that mean your still staying on the train or will you need to appoint someone  to run a new train forum? OR would you just be doing it by email only? Of course no one can have discussions like you can here. Just thoughts Im having here...Your very sweet Mona and I know you can figure something.

Im stepping off the train for good, Ive enjoyed the ride big time, love looking through the stickers. It was so much fun to sign the card to the next person, and look through everything.

Happy train riding!

Adios!



Last Edited on: 1/17/17 8:13 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/17/2017 8:15 AM ET
Member Since: 12/17/2013
Posts: 227
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I have not been on any of the sticker trains, so my opinion may be worth something (or not!).  But it seems to me that if you limit the number of sheets of stickers, you will limit the postage cost.  So if it costs $3.00 to mail 10 sheets of stickers (for example), each person could only add enough to get to 10 sheets of stickers (if you take 2 sheets, you can only add 2 sheets, etc.).  If you had more you wanted to add, they would have to wait for the next train.  I think you are including a card for the last person also?  Maybe switch it to a postcard instead of a card, or anything lighter to keep the weight down.  Decide the maximum postage amount and then figure out how many sheets of stickers that is, and go from there.  Also, I think only doing four trains a year is a great idea.

And Mona, let me be the first to say how much I will miss you if you aren't on PBS!  sad

Date Posted: 1/17/2017 11:27 AM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 780
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I was not trying to throw any ”cheap shots" was simply trying to be honest from how I remember it.  Like I said before I've left sticker train was just giving my thoughts. I never meant to offend anyone. 



Last Edited on: 1/17/17 12:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/17/2017 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2013
Posts: 1,251
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I am editing this for clarity and because what I said at the end (to me) got lost in my long separate replies.  Everyone, we have kept these trains running for 2 years and going because we all care for one another. Broken record that seems to get more true for me, every day, I thank all of you for it. These sticker trains are meant to be a simple process. A fun way for all aboard to yes share enjoyment of stickers with one another but so much more than that, expand friendships and care for all aboard. Let us please, move forward now in continued friendship. I am saddened to feel like throwing in the train towel right now :/ Sincerely, I am sorry anyone has felt hurt or needing to step down.Let's right here and now start over and in peace!

As I see it, please correct me if I am wrong, there is agreement to try two trains. One headed for Jennifer (started by Sarah) and the other for Cheryl (started by Jennifer). It does not matter to me in anyway who is aboard which train, if one of you wants to figure that out, go for it :) Or I can, doesn’t matter, I just want this process started to ensure these ladies do get their cards from all of us. If all of you, for now, would rather divide in half and half individually send a card with stickers to Cheryl and Jennifer, that is fine with me, too. In fact, just might be the solution for now to do that. I want them to both get either one card signed by each of us or separate cards from each of us. So please vote on either train or individual cards. P.S. Renee, Sara, and Jacqueline would be the riders to come who could restart the trains.

I am so touched by all of your kind words, thank you, thank you. Remember my membership does not expire for almost three months. I have time to pray and think on it. For now, I'm here! I promise we'd be in touch, I sure hope, regardless.

Peace to all, Happy Tuesday!

 

 



Last Edited on: 1/17/17 1:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/17/2017 8:21 PM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2009
Posts: 329
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I'm cool with whatever you veteran riders decide to do. This was my first train and I had a blast. Whatever ya'll decide, I'm cool with and will paticipate :) 

Date Posted: 1/18/2017 2:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 780
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Bump

Date Posted: 1/18/2017 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/9/2013
Posts: 135
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Mona,  thank you for your hard work on these sticker trains!  I know we all appreciate your efforts

I have no opinion and will go with whatever the majority decides.  However, I will mention that the current train takes about 2-3 months to reach me, making it almost a quarterly train.  Something to think about.

Date Posted: 1/18/2017 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2013
Posts: 1,251
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Thanks, Cheryl so much. :)

That is so true, especially now with wintry weather for some.

I checked tracking yesterday and it said Kim should get the train tomorrow which means our friend Sarah will get her card and train within a week or so.  Another idea is to ask Sarah to keep most all the stickers and start almost over. What we could do, too, easily, is bring packaging tape and a scissors to the PO with us instead of presealing the package. This way, if cost is too high, it's easy to take some stuff out before mailing on. I don't remember if I said this already, so forgive me if it is a repeat, somewhere in an old sticker train thread is a post reporting the findings of at least two of us who took a ton of sticker sheets (regular size like you get at the Dollar Tree) to the PO to find out mailing cost. I remember being surprised by how many could fit and this was just inside a small manila envelope, non padded. I think Janet had a great idea of agreeing on say $3 and then like I said not sealing anything up so extras could be removed and going from thee. I know that would mean extra work. I just again do not feel comfortable (and can't afford either)being part of something I know operates at $10 a time.

So far it sounds like no one has a firm preference on two trains or one again. For me, the draw of two is Jennifer and Cheryl get their cards quicker and we can test it out once. I fully admit, that at heart, I prefer one train and that is honestly because that means everyone on board gets to sign the same card for one friend :) But...we could also have folks aboard the train for Cheryl PM the person running the train for Jennifer (before they mail off the card) with messages for Jennifer that could be printed out and included with her card. Same for Cheryl. Not the same to me, but a suggestion :)

Date Posted: 1/18/2017 8:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 780
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I agree with your suggestion Mona on Sarah keeping most or all the stickers and starting over. I think starting fresh for sticker train 12 is a good idea.

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