Last week I helped Leon pack up for Anderson & Sheppard’s bi-annual trip to the US. Mr Hitchcock and Colin go twice a year: in the Spring to New York, Boston and Washington DC, and in the Autumn to New York, San Francisco and Chicago.
Preparing for the trips is very complicated logistically. Each city requires a separate delivery of trunks, and US customs requires that every suit included in those trunks comes back in them. We can’t leave any there. Every suit must be detailed and accounted for in a carnet, so customs can check through it – which we assume they do. The trunks are never locked for that reason, but held shut with straps.
We also take cardboard boxes with us so we can bring back any alterations that customers give us and we can’t make while we are there. Again they can’t go in the trunks because the contents have to be identical.
Over 150 items – suits, individual coats or overcoats – are going in this shipment to New York. The list changes constantly. We can take orders up to about a month before the trip, but even after that deadline we get requests from customers to bring across fittings that have been waiting for them, or to make an appointment as a new customer.
Leon has been doing it for five or six years now, to the extent that he knows the people at the Chamber of Commerce by name. All the arrangements for the shipment have to be done through them. In total we allow two weeks for the shipment, which allows some leeway for things to go wrong. Last year we had to put the whole trip back by a week because of the volcano erupting in Iceland – nothing was being flown in or out.
The packing for New York alone takes a full day. It’s a lot of work but we appreciate the loyalty of our customers across the US, and the effort they often make to come and see us in just a handful of cities.