I’ve been both a subscriber and fan of Valleyschwag since it was launched, that is, until yesterday. And not by my choice mind you, they canceled everybodies subscription. When the second issue was shipped in late May, they reported having over 1,500 members each paying $15 a month for the service. I can only guess what the subscriber count would look like now, after having a few months to grow.
They’ve thrown that all away now, sending the following notice to all the subscribers:
“We’d like you to be one of the first to know that we will soon unveil the Valleyschwag General Store, where you will be able to purchase future issues of our famous schwag bags. And by popular demand, we will be offering some of our most requested schwag items for sale.
This store replaces our subscription service, giving you more control over the issues and items you’d like to receive. We will notify you by email when a new issue of Valleyschwag is available, giving you the first opportunity to place an order at the General Store.
Since a subscription is no longer required we will automatically cancel your Paypal subscription if you haven’t already done so. To accommodate our members around the globe, the store will continue to accept Paypal as well as credit cards for all purchases.”
That’s right, they are now hoping that by sending out reminders and canceling the automatic payments, they will be able to stay afloat. They had guaranteed money in the bank every month, now, they’ll have to hope that people will remember to take time out of their busy day to buy the next issue. I don’t think they’ll see near the numbers they could with the subscription model.
One of the things I like about any subscription is that you don’t have to think about it, it just works. Once a month or so I get a package, no forms to fill out, no remembering to check and see if the next issue is ready, it’s just there. I think a lot of people feel this way, and I think this will be rather painful for the ValleySchwag team, and endanger the future of the business itself.
Valleyschwag was a really interesting concept, but I have to believe it grew too large, too quickly for the model to work. I wish the guys at RubyRed the best, but I believe the end is coming for the schwag express.