Fulfilment by Wicks Forge: The tale of small business shipping logistics

Fulfilment by Wicks Forge: The tale of small business shipping logistics

There was always an element of online sales to our business model. I officially launched Wicks Forge through an online Etsy store back in October of 2012. We even had one sale that month (thank you, Arleene L., wherever you are!).

 For the next several years the business grew with custom work, wholesale orders, and in-person craft fairs as our main revenue streams. I kept our Etsy store going but online orders didn't really factor into our day-to-day operations. It wasn't until Covid struck that we had to radically transform our business model in order to stay afloat. In-person sales ended overnight, so internet sales became our only way to carry on. I had amazing help creating a new website, expanding our online store with new products and photos, and grudgingly taking this ancient craft of ours into the digital age.

The response from our customers was immediate. What was once a small side part of the business–online sales–is now the lifeblood of our shop. It not only kept the lights on during Covid, but has allowed us to continue to grow, take on more young craftsmen and women, and expand the impact we're able to have on our national community of friends and customers. But there have been some major growing pains and challenges along the way. Getting burned by a hot piece of steel has nothing on the mental anguish derived from navigating and integrating multiple online platforms, pretending to understand website analytics, SEO, marketing campaigns, key word searches, and the ultimate ulcer representing the bane of our existence: SHIPPING LOGISTICS. 

People often ask what it's like to be a real live blacksmith in the modern world; while there is the definitely the excitement of forging hot steel and piecing together crazy custom tools, a lot of being a blacksmith is endless spreadsheets, clogged label printers, SKU codes, sourcing poly mailers, contacting UPS daily, and generally questioning broader life choices when the monthly shipping bill hits the credit card statements. And while shipping is still a trigger word in our office, we have learned quite a bit over the years. Following the growth of our shipping logistics has been an interesting window into the growth of our entire business. 

Here's a look into how our handmade pieces get from our shop into your hands. 


We forge pieces production run style over weeks at a time and then apply finish in batches using a traditional finish of raw linseed oil and beeswax-- which is what gives them a beautiful, natural finish that is also water resistant.

With certain pieces, there's a little more care involved. Sometimes we need to sharpen things, like our Letter Openers and Herb Choppers, for example:

We also polish our copper pieces:

Then comes the sorting process...


Our inventory room didn't used to look this good. When we moved to the new shop, we really wanted to make sure each piece had a place and that everything was easy to locate (at least for us). It's called organized chaos.

The Shipping Process

Once our beloved customers place their orders, there's a lot that happens behind the scenes before they actually hit the road. First off, we currently sell on two platforms: Etsy and our website (that's where you are!). Etsy orders get sent via technical witchcraft to Shopify, where we can then print them off all at once. It usually looks something like this:

We then pair the labels and slips and hope the wind doesn't blow them away.

Then we write a thank you note and add a card indicating that your product is handmade.


We give it a quick clean.


And wrap it up for shipping!

Then all the orders get picked up for their journey to your door.

The growing pains

There's many challenges I could've never anticipated when I started Wicks Forge, most of which are related to the shipping process. The biggest one was boxes--as in the literal thing that the orders get packed into. 


When I first started, I would reuse boxes I had around and would source old books from goodwill to wrap up pieces. This worked great...until I ran out of books. That's when we had to start buying boxes. You know you've made it (to hell) when you start buying boxes of boxes.

It's 9am on a Wednesday and Uline just called. The delivery truck can't get up our driveway so they need to unload the pallets down the hill.

We order pallets of boxes now. Shoot me. 

Moral of the Story

We've grown and adapted, but at the end of the day we're still bootleg and we have many kinks left to work out. I hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the curtain (i.e. mountain of boxes and shipping labels) of Wicks Forge fulfilment.


  • John Connelly on April 30, 2024

    Dude….you getting work done! Shipping is never easy as ABC…..its always ABXNZ…….
    Keep hammering the metal, you have really creative metalwork that are unique and cool tools.
    Thank you for a very interesting looksee at your workplace!

  • Ken Gunkel on April 30, 2024

    Your story is inspiring. I ran my small business (an advertising agency) for many years till selling it. I always appreciate hearing the experiences of other small independent businesses.

    Sometimes looking back I feel like if I had known some of the unexpected challenges I would have never started my business. But learning from these was in some ways what made it all interesting (& frustrating).

    Thanks for sharing your story. Please continue to let us peek behind the curtain. Until then


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