The Art of Exercise – Finding inspiration in 2017

Coming off the worst Christmas season to date with nearly a 30% drop in revenue on Etsy followed by endless wayward Pacific storms taking the scenic route through Cave Creek, AZ with uninterrupted drenching rains, January 2017 ushered in a period of zero inspiration and low grade depression, where the point of our business endeavours became awash in a mixed cocktail of anger, frustration, and extreme disappointment. The trouble mounted when our first show of 2017 sent us home short of making show rent, a bit wet, and chilled right to the bone.

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A January Day in 2017

The stigma of depression is perfectly captured in that Abilify commercial, where the middle aged lady is couch bound and locked in a white room of self pity, while sorrow strangles her pale, yet the reality of many mood disorders are highly functional individuals are chained to a routine that has grown stale and uninspiring with only nostalgia as a life-raft. By no means am I trying to trivialize the suffering of those with major depressive disorders, rather simply address the lesser form that drives us through mechanized motions without engaging those all important mesolimbic pathways to release a healthy dose of dopamine. Eventually devoid of reward, these sort of routines lead people into the trap of mindless repetition. Reckless consumerism aka the shopping spree or a night of drinking offers a cheap thrill for the moment, but you will always end up right back at the starting line.

In the days following the presidential inauguration, those of us who have long since abandon any reasonable hope for progress under the two party system and wish to see nothing more than an outright validation of individualism, self responsibility, and self determination, while embracing collectivism as a movement to advance science and technology for the greater good, found ourselves marginalized in a tug of war between a divide in political convictions and conventions that was light years removed from comprehension. Amidst the uproar and ranting and raving in social media, identifying yourself as human instead of Republican or Democratic was suddenly a crime of the first degree.

If there ever was a time to “turn on, tune in, and drop out,” Jan 23rd, 2017 would certainly rank top on my list and became the accidental start of a new found journey into reviving the energy to ignite a creative spark. Those first few mountain bike rides of the season were rather uninspiring under grey skies, but soon a bit of that long lost adventurous spirit began igniting the curiosity to try taking a left at the fork instead of right. Swelling arroyos from the melting mountain snows brought a sudden burst of green to the brown mix of sand and rock. Most remarkable though is how forcing those 2-3 rides per week to preserve fitness which was once the bane of my week, suddenly transformed into a wonderland of almost daily inspiration.

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Water in the Desert

 

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Dry creek bed turned “Alph the sacred river”

 

Greeting the blue skies and sun, meant meeting the day at the crossroads to embrace a profound appreciation of landscapes, scenes, and places no longer stylized in a flattened dimensionless day of endless Etsy forums or CNN headlines. The difference between my outlook before this adventure and today is a matter of seeing beyond the current stagnation to realize new opportunities are indeed undiscovered, yet without openly embracing today and future days, those opportunities will almost certainly remain elusive. 

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Flowers after the rains

As always though, the hardest part is the first mile. With new ideas in the works and Etsy sinking below the waterline, I hope this blog post mirrors that first ride of the 2017 season for sparking creativity and adventures in NiciArt

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Sunset in the Desert

What’s Changing in 2017 at NiciArt? We’re going Content Rich

Introduction

After Google saved Nici’s Picks and NiciArt from the curse of disappointing sales that are plaguing our Etsy Shop at the moment, this final week before Christmas has been a period to pause, rewind, and reflect on what may have gone awry. The most obvious mistake was being comfortably content on Etsy and letting the days pass with a complacent mindset buttressed by the old adage “too big to fail.” Such thinking is a bit ironic from a passionate trader who generally avoids large caps, blue chips, ETFs, and mutual funds in favour of small caps, emerging technologies, and companies shorted from their glories days all the way down to the bottom and preferably into the depths of the abyss. Putting aside the usual discussion of calculated risk vs. utter stupidity for discussion sake, my simple philosophical standpoint is today’s success is tomorrow’s failure.

Going Content Rich in 2017

Our Christmas miracle was essentially owed to just placing in Google Shopping, while organic traffic and social media performance could easily be rated “underperform.” The bulk of our website was essentially a product menu:

bulkofsite

Here we have a very typical Shopify site which falls into the category of a shopping cart site used to list items for order. Shortly before Christmas, we did integrate a blog at the bottom of the site as a small added bonus.

blog

Assuming the basics have long since been mastered and the about section, policies, contact us, and shipping information is complete, the next step would be focusing on going content rich. Looking at my site through Google’s eyes immediately revealed the weak link of having absolutely no meat on the bone. Looking to transform a pile of bones into a bountiful meal for the hungry coyotes with enough left-overs to attract an urban vulture to the scene, adding quality content in sections such as promoted items for the holidays, gift ideas, market schedule, twitter feed, and services would be essential. As usual, these ideas are easier said than done, since shop owners without coding experience are limited to the boundaries of their templates. Getting crafty with code and recycling where possible to save time in our busy schedule, we added a duplicate menu to create a service section.

services

As with any remodel, the easiest of projects encounter their share of hiccups. In our case, we needed to add coding for additional banners and eventually set up menus inside the “customize template” section in the Shopify Admin to accommodate the features. A little coding, becomes a lot of coding or sometimes just applying a very simple fix. Another classic example of a simple fix:

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We only wanted one row to appear on the homepage as not to over-emphasize prints and paintings, thereby having them overshadow our jewelry focus. A little “…view more” with a dynamic code <h3><a href=”{{ collections[settings.frontpage_collection2].url }}”>…View More</a></h3> provides an incredibly simple fix for the navigation problem and lets the visitor see a teaser followed by an entry way into the entire collection. Sometimes we overthink basic problems by searching for the most complexed solution possible instead of working with what is already provided on scene. My example for not re-inventing the wheel is duplicating the blog coding and then changing just a few lines to provide the visitor with our tour schedule:

tour

Suddenly you have a Custom Website

Having been in e-commerce for quite a while, identifying the platform behind a website is often just a quick glance at the layout. Most Etsy shop owners opening a Shopify site in parallel to their Etsy Shops will download either a Shopify template such as “Simple” or shell out $150.00 for a partner template like “Responsive” from Out of the Sandbox. Both templates provide amazing layouts, aesthetics, and logical navigation without tweaking, however with so many Shopify sign-ups, venue refugees, and dreamers looking to strike gold online, avoiding tweaking and modifying equates to sacrificing the highly regarded uniqueness originally sought by those subscribers.

Finding yourself in the Process

Chances are the creative processes behind going content rich will hopefully spark a reasonable exploration of that content and being swept away with the flow could amount to finding yourself in the process. Looking for a comprehensive list of Liquid Variables with references for customizing the Shopify Template soon became an adventure in scrolling along past pages of search hits for companies and individuals marketing template coding, tweaks, and fixes, hence the addition of e-commerce services to NiciArt with the introduction “getting crafty with code.” Just as Art transcends the associative boundaries of backyard pottery or painting to encompass the “art” of almost any activity as a creative process elevating even the most mundane tasks to explorations of both unique expression and mastery such as the “art” of Automotive Repair, we view “getting crafty with code,” marketing, and tools and supplies as a logical extensions of our current business. Being an old-school coder from the last days of VAX and Floppies, customizing a Liquid Template presents very little challenge and can almost be considered fun.

Introducing rich content and expanding the scope of products and services leads to countless new opportunities for promotion, professional networking, and back-linking in addition to the obvious goal of providing Google with some real indexing meat. The most common pitfalls of adding content are decreasing engagement through superfluous information, sacrificing ease of use and ease of navigation, and slowing loading speed.

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According to the SEO Doctor, we are right around 1 second loading speed using a balance of precisely scaling images to fit their defined template size and saving the images at 80% to balance compression with retaining aesthetic appeal.

Now the final challenge is leaving the site in peace for 6 months to evaluate the index ranking in Google. Some changes to the root domain can take immediate effect, while others appear 12 months later. Paying particular attention to H Tags, attributes, and introducing the sections with quality content can make all the difference between showing in Google with section links or just a URL with a description.

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Google leaves out the section links on NiciArt since their algorithms consider those links to be non-essential to the website due to content quality. Indeed Google is correct, since NiciArt previous to this week’s changes was just a simple cart site without carefully chosen attributes and introductions to the sections. Hopefully, this week’s effort will pay-off and we will earn our links as well as a solid Google Ranking.

 

 

 

 

 

Is it worth the time of putting together a website?

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Posted almost daily in the Etsy forums is the question whether it’s worth the time and effort to create your own website in addition to selling on Etsy. Most often this question is posed in connection to slow sales on Etsy and the website is being viewed as a logical alternative or addition that will help a seller realize their sales goals. The unfortunate answer to this question is far from a resounding yes or no and will require each seller to carefully consider their personal goals.

 

Bootstrapping

One of the first considerations should be analysing the budget before taking the plunge into a new website. On Etsy, anyone can list 100 items for $0.20 an item or $20.00 every quarter. Launching a business on less than $100.00 might have been once been impossible, but thanks to venues such as Etsy, Amazon, and Ebay, $100 and a little time on social media, could provide the magic that sets the gears in motion. This is not to say that starting on Shopify or creating a WordPress site will not lead to success, but for sure the start up costs will be much greater than $100.00. For the sake of bootstrapping on a minimal budget, venue based platforms offer extremely inexpensive entry points.

The venue based system brings the advantage of selling on commission into the equation where selling on a stand-alone website requires greater upfront costs thereby strangling the tight start-up budget to divert funds away from creating products to supporting a selling infrastructure.

Time

Perhaps the most limited and precious resource facing sellers is simply time. Success most often hinges on maximizing the return on time investments more than any other factor which is why I strongly recommend calculating profit and income on an hourly scale. In our first year, we looked at the gross numbers, uncorked the wine, and unleashed a furious celebration, however at the end of the year, we soon discovered our pay rate was flirting with just $20.00 an hour. Luckily, we had other incomes sources to balance out dismal performance in online marketing.

Two important considerations are:

  • Do your products sell themselves or do you have to market?
  • Are you getting paid for your marketing efforts in your hourly?

On Etsy, our guitar picks were selling themselves with a base level of about 15-20 units per day, meaning we could simply produce and move our product without marketing on Etsy, while our own stand-alone website saw about 1 sale a week. To increase our sales on our NiciArt website, we started marketing through social media, but failed to calculate the time spent marketing into our pricing which lowered our hourly earnings.

Bootstrapping a stand-alone website is indeed possible with Google’s Pay per Click Adwords and Google Shopping, however the learning curve is extremely steep and considerable time is required to master Adwords. Unfortunately, sellers aren’t getting paid for learning, so the level of expertise could be a deciding factor between choosing a venue or an e-commerce platform.

Audience

Shoppers visiting Etsy are generally familiar with the website and are either browsing or shopping for boutique-ish products, whereas creating a stand-alone website means investing time and effort to target a specific audience. Akin to opening a boutique directly adjacent to I-95 with the argument, “hey the traffic is great,” simply creating a website without an audience is a sure path to watching traffic jams or cars speeding by with few visitors. Why open a shop along I95? Either the merchant intends on servicing travellers with food and gas or is looking for easy access for clients already familiar with the business.

Complaints and negative publicity aside, Etsy is a well-known and established brand with a certain degree of trust. If I was browsing the internet and came across NiciArt, my first question would be “who the ‘f’ is Nici?” Should credit cards companies not offer buyer protection, I would be very hesitant to purchase from an unknown website vs. Etsy. Establishing trust requires time, reviews, joining professional groups such as the Chamber of Commerce or Artist Guild, offering free returns and exchanges, having telephone support, and working extra hard to convince shoppers that a site is safe.

Etsy limiting growth and the downside risk

As quickly as Etsy accelerates growth and can convert that $100.00 into a thriving business, this particular venue does not scale with your business and will eventually limit your growth potential with their de-clumping, links out of the shop, and “spread the wealth” strategy. The shift away from a commission based service to relying on more predictable seller services as their main revenue source marks a turning point away from marketing performance. In other words, Etsy is far less interested in earning a commission from sales and is instead focused on reselling their internal traffic through Promoted Listings. The net result is a quasi-cap or upper limit on potential sales. By limiting successful sellers from search domination and placing all shops on equal footing, stronger sellers with a strong social media presence and marketing expertise are either driven away from the venue entirely or become less motivated to promote their Etsy Shops and turn to e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Square Space, or Volusion to serve outside marketing efforts. The downside risks become stagnation, mediocre products, and loss of interest or talent as de-motivation is a slippery slope to a brain-drain. Whether these downside risks will out weigh the upside potential in earnings, will most likely become clearer in Q1 and Q2 in 2017.  If the company meets earning’s expectations in Q1 and Q2, increased investing could generate revenue for advertising and site wide improvements, where the sellers might be indirect beneficiaries of Etsy’s success.

The Etsy Method has always been throw enough darts and you’ll eventually hit a bulls-eye, but now that markets host fierce competitions for a limited buyer pool, that sacred bulls-eye is a moving target, where one seller introduces a unique product and next week thousands of copy-cats are replicating the unicorn product, thus forcing innovative sellers into a never ending game of rolling out new products. Etsy administration also subscribe to the Etsy Method with Wholesale, Pattern, Promoted Listings, Manufacturing, and Google Advertising. My concern as an Etsy seller is marketplace performance with Etsy’s long-term sustainability a distant second, while Etsy’s primary concern is obviously their earnings yet somewhere down the list must be a strategy for seller retention. With overlapping interests, there should be a common ground where Etsy can shift back to marketplace performance in order to preserve seller loyalty and success in a healthier symbiosis between admin and sellers.

Is it worth the time of putting together a website? If a full-time Etsy seller has the time, budget, enough expertise, and would like a hedge against the downside risks of being purely an Etsy seller, then putting together a website could prove to be a smart business choice. Without the time, budget, and expertise, a website might be nothing more than a diversion of resources away from a fledging Etsy shop which could lead a seller to be on extremely rocky footing with two underperforming mediocre shops and no real business plan.

 

 

 

Adding Extra Rows for Promoted Links/Featured Items on Shopify Responsive Theme

Accommodating a growing business always requires a little code juggling and planning. Currently, we really like our Responsive Shopify Theme, however having only 8 featured categories presents a challenge for NiciArt as we move into 2017. To expand our line-up, we are planning on offering photography, jewelry tools and equipment, paintings, and overhauling our golf ball marker category in the coming year. The photography category will include a mix of royalty free downloadable backgrounds and images along with framed artistic landscape photos from our adventures in the Desert Southwest.

Starting with our basic layout we have 8 categories and are using the featured promotions to set up our menu:

  • Bracelets and Bangles
  • Necklace and Pendants
  • Guitar Picks and Stands
  • Men’s Accessories
  • Rings
  • Key Rings and Pet Tags
  • Toe Rings
  • Earrings

basic-categories

Initially the new categories will be invisible, but for now, I’ll show them as “Test” to ensure the coding is working correctly.

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Step 1

Find the featured-promotions in the index.liquid files and change the number of items to display from 8 to 12. For us, that means editing line 217 for i in (1…12)

index

Step 2

Find the code in the settings.scheme.json that refers to the featured-promotions

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After featured item 8, simply copy, edit, and re-paste the code:

},

{

“type”: “header”,

“content”: “Promotion 9”

},

{

“type”: “checkbox”,

“id”: “feature9_enabled”,

“label”: “Enable promotion”

},

{

“type”: “image”,

“id”: “feature9.jpg”,

“label”: “Image”,

“info”: “840 x 840px recommended”,

“max-width”: 840,

“max-height”: 760

},

{

“type”: “text”,

“id”: “feature9_link”,

“label”: “Link URL (optional)”

},

{

“type”: “text”,

“id”: “feature9_title”,

“label”: “Title text (optional)”

},

{

“type”: “text”,

“id”: “feature9_description”,

“label”: “Description (optional)”

 

Step 3

Repeat the last code paste for 10…12 and don’t forget to open and close each set with:

},

{

Step 4

After adding the code for 8 to 12, then close the set with

}
]

Step 5

Now you can simply carry on with adding the next 4 promoted items to the expanded menu.

newpromotions

 

So far, we have been using Out of the Sandbox’s Responsive Theme for about 3 weeks and besides providing us with a clean modern layout featuring sections divided neatly by banners along with logical navigation options, this Responsive Theme is incredibly flexible to edit and customize. My complaint with the Shopify stock themes is they are so basic that customizing usually means starting from scratch to add functionality, whereas a quality template such as Responsive allows the user to simply add onto or modify the existing code. As much as I object to paying Shopify more than the monthly subscription fee, a custom template can definitely save hours of needless and frustrating coding.

NiciArt Reports Mixed Bag of Sales for the Holidays

Are Shoppers holding back in 2016?

With the holiday shopping nearing a close, NiciArt was left with mixed messages and piles of data requiring some considerable extrapolation in order to find meaningful conclusions for the 4Q Holiday Sales.

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The clearest change in holiday patterns was on our Etsy Site, where revenue was down 20% and sales down 50% based on sample sizes of over 1000 orders. Though we actually had record sales on many days, the bulk of the shopping took place between the Dec 2 – Dec 11 with very poor performances on Cyber Monday and Black Friday giving us a delayed start into the season.

Similar patterns plagued our new NiciArt website where sales were also down 20% over 2015 and on par with 2013, however the sample size for NiciArt tends to be a bit smaller, so some caution should be taken in direct comparisons between our website vs Etsy. Amazon Handmade sales grew 500% but again the sample size is too small to reach any concrete conclusions. Our top selling Amazon Products were:

niciart_sterling_silver_mountains_and_amber_bracelet_2Mountains and Amber Moon Cuff Bracelet

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Latitude longitude sterling silver money clips.

On Etsy we observed strong sales of money clips as well with some greater tendencies for customers to opt for the lower priced metals such as Copper, Bronze, and Aluminum. One of the most important observations is how many customers check out with Express Mail and Overnight Services.  By far 2016 had the lowest number of Express Checkouts to date and many customers indicated their preference for Priority Mail over Fedex 3 Day due to the $6.00 price difference. Sifting further through the numbers, our average price point was up 30% for individual items over last year, but multiple item orders and items in excess of $100.00 were actually quite rare. My conclusion is shoppers waited until later and then did indeed hold back on their budgets.

One of most popular items across all shops this year was our Sterling Silver Guitar Pick necklace with music note charm

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Like the money clips, that $50 – $60 range provides a quality gift without breaking the bank or running up the credit card bill.

Finally our dark horse of the shopping season was our Nici’s Picks website which absolutely exceeded all expectations and picked up some lost Etsy business. After Etsy’s de-clumping algorithm of late 2014, we witnessed a considerable shuffling of the cards where our dominate position as the largest guitar pick seller on Etsy was threatened by an invasion of new sellers in the music category, while we were finally able to gain some serious ground in the bracelet category. Nici’s Picks really managed to capture the originality of unique and custom order guitar picks with almost every pick leaving our shop being personalized with a saying, name, or some entirely custom phrase.

Still we are of the opinion shoppers are holding back and the consumer segment is far more sensitive to the recent elections than business to business. While a company such as General Dynamics wrestles with what projectiles or aircraft will appeal to new administration’s air superiority strategies for example, the consumer segment grapples with questions such as the future of healthcare, mortgages, and college loans which has an instant effect on the holiday shopping.

What are Nici and RJ predicting for 2017?

Our outlook tends to be cautiously optimistic regarding the health of the economy in the long run, but we are extremely bearish on the boutique markets where Etsy has dominated as the undisputed champion. Perhaps the greatest concern is over-saturation and unreal expectations. The discussion turns more in the direction of economics 101 than a deeper analysis of macroeconomic trends. In other words, there are too many sellers with far too few truly unique items on Etsy all vying for the same piece of a limited pie. Seeing the limited resources as a source of income, Etsy’s turned the competition between sellers into a strategy of profiting from “seller services.” In this sense, Etsy has been far more about Walden Pond economics in their small utopia rather than bringing those items to market as a distributor of handmade goods across the internet. Of course, the sellers too are responsible for not heeding basic supply and demand theories and thinking they could just enter the marketplace and sell almost anything.

An enormous opportunity missed, I was shocked how Kohls for example managed to saturated Google Shopping this year with stamped jewelry styles made so famous by Etsy. My hope was Etsy might have stepped out of their little world to actually expand their marketplace to accommodate the huge influx of new sellers, otherwise in the current Etsy marketplace sellers are bound to experience diminishing marginal returns from promoted listings and in response will start cutting their budgets to only cover listings, renewals, and commissions, there by leaving Etsy without one of their cash cows. Of course restructuring to remove the de-clumping and promoted listings could prove to be a huge step forward towards at least sustainability.

After Valentine’s Day, NiciArt will look to slash expenses and find ways to operate with 20-30% less revenue for the same profit. I will be studying our Google Adwords, Facebook, subscribed services, costs of tools and supplies, and be looking for ways to streamline the business in order compete in a much tighter market. We will also start looking for unicorn products, meaning those one of a kind rare products with high demand and low supply. For example, our Silver Mountain and Moon Bracelet was such a success in Amazon, because the style and product simply has no equivalent. Etsy is still a fantastic marketplace for us, but we may consider cutting back on the promoted listings and increasing or presence on Amazon Handmade. With on-line selling becoming ever more expensive and competitive, shows, live markets, street fairs, and boutiques will most definitely be on our radar for next year.

 

 

 

The Metal Ethos

The Metal Ethos blog truly marks the end of an era at NiciArt. Selling on-line offers comfort to those who seek anonymity in cyberspace, but for a company like NiciArt that thrives on telephone support, interacting with customers and working in all three dimensions, cyberspace is a cold vast frontier. The first step in conquering that cold dark space is both members stepping out of cyberspace with separate blogs and social media presence to focus on a bit more on our individual thoughts and efforts. As such, we decided to go with the Metal Ethos as a logical addition to Nici’s Blog, The Metal Spot.

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While the Metalspot is hosted on WordPress and offers full functionality for most bloggers, one of my goals was to test a custom template and eventually begin to offer our own WordPress and Active Blogger Templates as digital downloads in Etsy, so moving to a self hosted platform was necessary to use custom templates. The template chosen for the initial design is Morning Time by WP Look Studios which features a very clean and simple design. As a header banner, I chose a photo of Tom’s Thumb in Scottsdale, AZ for intrigue, fascination, and being inspired by the endless wonders of nature instead of strictly limiting the Metalethos to business, products, or just product promotion. After receiving our 100th Etsy order, we hiked to Tom’s Thumb and even discussed the possibilities of taking on NiciArt as a full-time business back in 2011. Never would I have even dreamed those first 100 orders were just a tiny step, therefore beginning the blog with Tom’s Thumb is actually far more appropriate than a flaming torch, polishing wheel, or some sort of trite marketing slogan.

NiciArt was never planned or discussed over coffee, rather NiciArt just happened and we knew exactly what we had to do without the need for a script. In so many ways, I am incredibly grateful for Etsy and that first Christmas in 2011, where our little shop was launched from page 254 in search right up to page 1 overnight. Today, Etsy continues to deliver steady traffic and orders even as election shock hangs on the horizon for many like an ominous rain cloud. For us, we only really worry when things start making sense and chaos becomes an orderly plan.

Once “the” meeting place after work, the Etsy forums have strayed a bit from good wholesome discussions and debates to repetitive post regarding SEO, low views and sales, or celebration milestones for that first sale. Don’t misunderstand, the Etsy forums are still a wonderful resource with many dedicated shop owners sparing their precious time to help others succeed. Unfortunately, many successful shops are experiencing a slowdown coming off the golden age of Etsy where sales were fast and easy and now time is such a limited resources, many faces are missing in action from the forums. Embracing the end of era with excitement about the future rather than lamenting the passage of time is a far more productive mindset. Starting the Metal Ethos in parallel to Nici’s efforts on the Metal Spot is just one more step forward for 2017.

 

 

Black Friday

Black Friday 2016 is in full swing with sales trickling in through out the hour, however volume is definitely lower than expected heading into the midday hours. Much like being glue to the electoral maps on November 8th, we are filling orders while keeping another eye focused on the stats.

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We attribute election shock as the sole reason behind the sluggish start to the holiday season which was most likely at the forefront of Thanksgiving dinner discussions leading more shoppers to head on out and grab a 4k TV to keep up with the media circus in 3840 x 2160 rather than swing by Nici’s Picks and pick up an engraved metal guitar to help strum away the election blues with the gift of music. What is interesting to note is last weekend ushered in record sales, which strengthens my argument that people came together over the past few days and revived their political furies, thereby shifting the mood temporarily away from holiday shopping. In my mind, I’m imagining the pumpkin pies fly as Clinton and Trump supporters clash over healthcare, immigration, and the economy.

Looking back at history, I’m sure Truman’s win over Dewy or McKinley vs. Bryan caused quite a stir at the time, but what might be truly unique in this election is the role of social media as well as conventional media in creating such an amplified aftermath and fallout with some of the most divisive politics since the civil war. The biggest curse of all is “uncertainty.” Whether the next president be Clinton or Trump, we would take simple corruption for the next 4 years over the madness about “what’s in the box.” Unbeknowst to many, Pandora doesn’t take vacations” and by not even being able to agree on basic set of fundamentals principles governing how we should coexist with our neighbours, protect our natural resources, guarantee access to healthcare, and promote education as the path to upward mobility and a better future, we may very well be gift wrapping Pandora’s Box for the next generation.