Our customers are, generally speaking, pretty great. Over the past year many folks have reached out to make sure we're doing OK, and asked us how Covid 19 has impacted our operation, so we thought we'd take this as an opportunity to do a little reflecting and give you all an update. At A&A we are a tight knit bunch, and the core of our crew have worked together for at least 30 years, which implies that we are not all a bunch of spring chickens. While we think that the centuries of combined experience this implies give us a certain gravitas and patina of wisdom, it has also meant that, for the safety of us all, we had to take the threat of Covid pretty seriously.
Glorious leader Chris Poor and snake catcher, dagger maker, and shipper extraordinaire Mark Black both turned 65 this year!
So, we podded up, battened down the hatches, and got to work making swords and staying safe. So far, we've managed to dodge the virus, perhaps due to our near continuous chanting of "bring out your dead!".
Our in-shop doctor says "you have too much blood, and way too much bile"
We are happy to report that at this point everyone at the shop is now either inoculated or at least has an appointment, so stuff is starting to get back to normal. We are really looking forward to seeing all of you lovely sword lovers in person this year, whether at HEMA events, Renaissance festivals, or if you are just in the area and want to stop by the shop.
Cheers, from our pod to yours!
Like many small manufacturers we have had some supply chain hiccups this year. The price of steel is up, it's been difficult for the foundry we work with to maintain staffing, which means that we've faced an unprecedented challenge producing some parts, and the enforced lock down last year definitely threw a monkey wrench into the power hammer. This means that it's taken longer to produce some items than would otherwise have been the case, and if your sword is later than expected we really appreciate your patience. We are currently working double-extra-hard to get items produced and shipped.
We have also taken the opportunity of the plague year to think through our catalogue and do some planning, so stay tuned for some changes to our product list over the coming year. We were able to get a PPP loan in the first round, which definitely helped to ensure that no one went hungry, because sword smiths have a hearty appetite and need a constant supply of whiskey to keep their creativity up.
Overall, orders are up, our spirits are high, and we think this is going to be a great year. Thank you to all of our customers, and especially to those who have placed orders in this crazy year -- we really, really, appreciate it.
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.