Winter Prep Made Easy – 7 Tips To Save You Time & Money

Old Man Winter is just around the corner. Are you ready? There are quick and easy things you can do now to protect your home, inside and out, for the inclement weather to come.

1) Let’s start top to bottom. Did you know you can reverse your ceiling fan’s direction? Check to see if there is a switch to do so, and if so – use it! By reversing direction (to clockwise), heated air is pushed down where you need it the most. Prior to doing this, don’t forget to clean your fan blades. You don’t want to push dust and debris down. This Duster is made specifically for cleaning ceiling fans, no ladder needed!fan roofmelts

2.) Visually scan your roof for damage/loose pieces BEFORE the snow falls. Ideally, you want to do this from higher up. If you do notice minor roof damage, this roll on roof patch goes on like tape and can be used to repair your roof or gutters.  After it starts snowing, you want to make sure snow is not piling up. If it is, toss these roof melts on your roof and they do all the work – melting snow on contact. You don’t even need a ladder.

3) Get your mind out of the gutter! Well actually, we do need you to focus on the gutters for a bit. Clogged gutters are a big problem in winter. Trapped leaves and debris can keep gutters from doing their job. You want that water to flow freely. Either clean your gutters yourself or hire a pro. As a preventative measure, this Gutter Wedge keeps the gunk from accumulating in the first place.

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4) Baby it’s getting cold… inside. Banish the brrrrr this Winter. Check for leaks under doors and around windows. Besides causing energy bills to go sky-high, drafts create that chill that never seems to go away. We love using these Water Sorb socks because:
1) they can be used by doors and windows
2) they do double duty – absorbing water, spills and leaks

socksrope We’re also big fans of this Rope Caulk – just peel and press in place, no caulking gun needed.

5) Turn off exterior faucets AND cover them. Most people do remember to turn off the outdoor water supply. However, even a little bit of trapped water can expand and freeze, causing damage. These Faucet Socks provide the protection outdoor faucets need in the off season.
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6) Make sure that sump pump is working. You want to check this now, instead of waiting until there is an issue. Take a watering can, fill it with water and start pouring it in the sump pump to see if it comes on. If it doesn’t, call a plumber to fix it before the problem occurs.

7) Get your Winter gear in place. Shovel? Check. Snowbrush? Check. Ever used a Sno-Brum? Hands down, this is one of the best snow clearing devices out there. It cleans your car off in one sweep.
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You’ll also want to make sure you have other provisions on hand like ice melt, anti-skid spray, Slip-Grip and even these YakTraks that make walking on icy/slippery surfaces safe. Make this the year you are ready for Winter even before it arrives! A little prep work now will pay off all season and in the Spring. Be prepared, be safe and stay warm!

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Cluttered Closet? 5 Out-of-the-Ordinary Tips To Take Control

closetbefore

SOS! Yes, this closet needs a bit of help.

Is your closet as organized as you would like it to be? Whether your closet is a mess or just needs a little TLC, we’re here to help you tackle closet chaos – big or small, once and for all!

TIP ONE
According to professional organizers, we only wear 20% of what is currently in our closet. To find out what you are actually wearing, turn all your hangers the same way. When you grab a garment to wear, turn the hanger to face the opposite direction. After 2-3 months or so, you’ll see what your go-to pieces really are. The clothes on the hangers facing the opposite way are your 20%!

TIP TWO
What do you do with the remaining 80%? Well, it’s now time for the 4-step tough love phase. Be strong, you can do this! Recruit a friend or family member to help if you need to and tackle it in 15 minute increments. Set your oven timer and get started – sorting the remaining items into one of four piles: give, toss, donate or revaluate.

  1. Give it away. Be realistic. Are you ever going to fit into those jeans you’ve been holding onto for 5 years? If the answer is no, you need to let them go. Put those in the “give-away” pile. Just think what a happy new home they will have.
  2. Toss it out. Some things just need to be thrown away. That sweater with the hole in it? Let it go. The pants that will never be in style again? Adios! The shirt with the stain you thought you could get out or that no one would notice? It’s time to say good-bye.
  3. Donate!  There are so many great places that can use your clothes donations – GoodwillVolunteers of America, etc. We especially love this program: Working Wardrobe – they take professional clothes donations and provide clothing for people to wear for interviews. Not only do you get the tax benefits of donating, you’re also helping people who really can use a hand. If you’re really ambitious and want to make some money from your clothes, you can also bring them to a consignment shop, sell them on ebay or host an eco-friendly “Swap Party” where you trade your old clothes for a “new to you” wardrobe.
  4. Undecided? Sleep on it and re-evaluate in the morning. The important thing is to force yourself to make a decision – either that day or the following one.

Once you’ve sorted, cleaned, tossed and donated, what is your next step? Take 15 minutes a week to keep up your progress. This step is key, otherwise you will fall back into old habits. Another tip – for every new piece of clothing you bring in, get rid of one! foamcovers

TIP THREE
No more wire hangers! Well, wait a minute – that old rule no longer applies. Wire hangers don’t have to go – they can be repurposed. We’re all about re-using, recycling and making use of what you can that already exists in your home.  These foam covers transform wire hangers into no slip hangers. Remember, every type of hanger has a purpose. Padded hangers help avoid shoulder bumps, pants hangers eliminate creases and reduce wrinkling (less ironing!) and there are even bendable foam hangers for v-necks, spaghetti straps and lingerie.

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TIP FOUR
Jewelry 101 – Coordinating your jewelry to your outfit just got a whole lot faster. Hang necklaces by length. You can now see them at a glance. Notice we said “hang”. You won’t wear what you don’t see. Hang from hooks, decorative pins, a wall jewelry holder, even a coat rack with pegs can be used to organize and display your pieces.

TIP FIVE
Breathe! Not just inhaling & exhaling, but making a conscious decision to create great air quality in your closet. Clean air means clean clothes. You don’t want mold, mildew, dust mites, silverfish, moths and other destructive creepy crawlies invading your space. Make sure clothes are ventilated. That means space between items- do not pack pieces together. Ventilated shelves are a great first step -they come in plastic or metal. And an environmentally friendly air enhancer can’t hurt either. airqualityshelves

So there you have it! We know that there is no shortage of closet organizing tips out there. This post just touches the surface. Give these ideas a try and let us know what you think. And, if you have any you want to add, feel free to comment below. We’d love to hear your ideas as well.
– Happy organizing!

Two Bonus Tips:

  1.  Pocket Shoe Holders can be used for more than just shoes. Their pockets are a great place to store scarves, leggings and delicates like hosiery.
  2. Think double duty. Pill organizers can be used to stow those extra buttons and thread you get when you buy shirts & sweaters. For more closet organizing items, click HERE.
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Embracing Change

2013 is a BIG year for QCI Direct. 30 years ago, I created this company. Way back then, I started out with one catalog selling microwave cookware. Who knew that decades later I would have 2 catalogs, 3 websites and employ over 100 people! It has been a crazy, interesting and, yes – at times, challenging ride.

The early years! Jane & Larry Glazer at a trade show.

The early years! Jane & Larry Glazer at a trade show, circa 1983.

As the years passed, I have seen many changes, including the move to the web and social media. It has all been very exciting and full of possibilities! I am always embracing ways to grow the business and to serve you, my loyal customers and friends. Along the way, I brought in many wonderful and talented people to help us move forward. As my business family grew, so did my family at home. My three kids are now grown with children of their own. I love spending time with my two families, especially my six grandchildren.

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Elizabeth Meyer, new QCI Direct president

As someone who practices and preaches work/life balance, I realized recently that it was time to find someone to share in my passion for my work family and help us continue to grow. So, with great pleasure, I would like to introduce you to Elizabeth Meyer.

Elizabeth will be taking over as our president. I will continue to be here as CEO, while she will be at the helm for day-to-day duties. She is going to work with me and my team to find even better ways to serve all your home care needs. What will never change is our commitment to bring you the best products and the best customer service, today and every day.

P.S. Once Elizabeth gets settled in, you’ll be hearing from her on this blog as well! Scroll down for more photos. If you want to see our official press release about this news, email us here.

JaneandElizabeth

Elizabeth & Jane at the company bbq in July

Enjoying good food, fun and friends at our bbq last month!

Enjoying good food, fun and friends at our bbq last month!

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My Help – Letter From Linda

We recently received a charming letter from one of our customers, a retired elementary school teacher. She wrote a loving tribute to both her old and new vacuum cleaner, as well as the other “helpers” in her life. We love hearing from our friends across the country about how our products have made their lives easier, cleaner and more pleasant/productive. Thanks Linda, it was a real treat. What a clever and cute story!

My Help – by Linda Tregoe, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida

BissellVac

Fifteen years ago we lived on the sugar-white sand in northwest Florida. I was in need of a dependable helper to rid our cottage of the grit left by careless friends over tile floors. I was fortunate when I met Bissy.

Bissy, often called Miss Biss, had a lovely ivory complexion. We got along famously for the last five years on the beach. She was always at the ready when I needed her, with never a complaint.

Of course, Miss Biss came along with us when we moved to our new house in Fort Walton Beach. She caught on quickly to my demands. Most weeks she helped me only on Tuesdays, unless there was an accident or if someone tracked in dirt and leaves while doing yard work. Bissy didn’t mind being called to help at anytime of day or night.

Bissy shared a special place with my other helpers – the twins who helped me every Friday with the laundry. Fisher and Paykel were her friends. Another helper who shared the room was Libby, who wet mopped the tile after Bissy and I vacuumed. Then there was Simp, who cleaned the carpeted floors. Simp sang loudly while he worked. Sometimes that was not welcomed. I’ve often wondered if they talked shop when they are not working?

Miss Biss was in her fifteenth year of helping me faithfully when I noticed she was having problems. Maybe I had worked her too hard, or perhaps she was ill. She began coughing and groaning. It was time for a check-up. A man checked her out in the operating room and returned to tell me that Miss Biss was getting too old to last much longer, and to not be too surprised if she just died one day.

A week or so later, Bissy fell and was hurt badly. I patched her up and let her rest for two weeks. I then asked my friend Euky to take her place until Bissy could get well. Euky is a pretty yellow. He is pretty fat too. Although he is handsome, he is too large to get into tight spaces and is a bit clumsy. Not so with Bissy. She was light and agile and graceful.

Even though Euky could help a bit now and then, I searched for a replacement for Miss Biss everywhere. I finally turned to Home Trends one day and and found they could help me. I was delighted! Now I have a new helper which works exactly as Bissy used to do. I’ve decided to call her B-2.

The color of B-2 is lovely and smooth. I have found she works exactly as Bissy, and she seems to be comfortable with her new friends,Fisher and Paykel, Libby, Simp, and even Euky. She and I have become great pals. I trust she will live a long and productive life.

Characters: Libby – a Libman wet mop
Simp – a Simplicity upright vacuum
Euky – a Eureka lightweight vacuum
Fisher & Paykel – washer & dryer
Bissy aka Miss Biss – first Bissell featherwight vacuum
B-2 – new dark blue featherweight vacuum
Me – Mrs. Linda Tregoe, the happy homemaker

B-2 – my inspiration for this story

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Swimming with the Sharks

How The Scrub Daddy Cleaned Up At QCI

Do you watch Shark Tank? We really enjoy the show. Sure, there is drama and some silliness. But, there is more to the show than just that. As buyers, merchants and marketers, we are always on the lookout for new products. We admire the creativity and dedication of the entrepreneurs who have conceived of new products and services and are trying to bring them to market.

The show speaks our language. We know all about retail and wholesale costs, product packaging, distribution and fulfillment. It takes a lot to get a product into the right hands and then out to the public. It’s not just a matter of “make it and they will buy”.

We were particularly impressed when we saw the Scrub Daddy sponge on the show. Wow, how cool –  a sponge that changes consistencies in hot or cold water, doesn’t smell and smiles at us when we’re cleaning? We’re in! Our VP of merchandising, Jeanne Wind, contacted the creator after she saw the episode in which the Scrub Daddy was featured. Next thing you know, we became a proud source for the Scrub Daddy and even featured it on our cover!
ScrubDaddyCover
We’re always on the lookout for the next cool thing – whether that be from a trade show, vendor or from a creative inventor. We’ll keep watching Shark Tank for that very reason. What about you? Do you like Shark Tank? Who is your favorite “Shark?”. The season just ended, but we look forward to see what the sharks get pitched this coming Fall.

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Delivering The Goods

One of the major obstacles in the direct marketing business is being able to deliver the goods to the customer. Unlike shopping in a retail environment, the customer doesn’t get to touch the product until it arrives on their doorstop. And, if an item appears on a web site, or in a catalog, the customer assumes that product can and should be delivered in a timely fashion to their home.

I have been in business for 30 years, and am still trying to deliver the goods to my customers. It just isn’t always that easy. What if a supplier has a flood, the goods don’t get to our warehouse, our catalogs are already printed and on their way to you, the customer. How do I let you know?  Or, the product looks good and we discover it has a faulty mechanism – we are definitely not shipping out poor merchandise. We call all these problems “back ordered products”.  And believe me, they consume an enormous amount of labor hours and clear thinking to resolve.

Wraptastic

As-Seen-on-TV Wraptastic.

Then there is “As Seen on TV” products. They sell so fast that we can have 1000 on Monday and be back ordered by Wednesday. Take for example our Wraptastic. We thought it was fantastic and ordered thousands. Then, someone displays it on a national news channel. Poof – our supply is gone and we have back orders.

Our policy/motto here is “sure, no problem”. We will give our customers the very best customer service. Back ordered products just do not jive with our policy. And yet, we keep moving forward. We deliver the goods in the best timely fashion that we can. Unless we have a typical Rochester, NY, snowstorm when all schools and businesses are closed for days. Now that’s a challenge!

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That “hot new product” question

Wherever I go, friends always ask me what the hot new product is. Although it should roll right off my tongue, I find it is a tough question to answer.  We mail catalogs every 2 weeks, and each one has hot new products. Are they asking me about the new WaxVac because they just saw it on TV and want to know if we carry it? Or, are they asking me about the Solar lights because Summer is coming up?

This time of year we are in full-blown “get ready for Spring & Summer” mode. So, even though snow is on the ground, we’re writing about sprinklers, figuring out how to photograph flowers in a snow storm (always a challenge) and similar fun stuff. 

I can tell you some trends:
1) Retro steel frame lawn furniture is back – people dig the bright colors
2) People are really ready to ditch their boots and anything winter related and get out in the yard
3) People hate pests (the insect kind, not people).

Bottom line – in this job, you need to “read” the customer. How old? Do they own a home? Are they a TV watcher? Should I divulge that our hot new product is a Pest Repeller and risk making them feel that their house is infected?

This is one of the little quirks of owning a business. It’s just another puzzle piece that I need to figure out.

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One view from the show – you end up walking miles and seeing hundreds of vendors and items

P.S. I get help with this question this weekend when I travel to Chicago, along with my merchants, for the International Housewares Show. Lots of walking & lots of amazing new items to scope out. Details/photos when I return…

Jane

Click HERE to go back to our website www.QCIDirect.com

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