Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, December 08, 2006

Flipping the Finger

Ever wonder how a company president spends his day? Playing golf? Jetting around the country in his private plane? Dictating memos in his high-rise office, maybe? Not this president. On my good days, I spend a lot of time boxing up orders, buying postage, and schlepping boxes to and from the post office. Today was one of my bad days. Stay awhile, and listen….

A couple of customers recently received nonworking Ultra Bright Finger Lights. It’s no big deal; they’re cheap, so I apologize, send out free replacements, and absorb a small loss. After the second complaint, I started testing them before sending them out. A bit more than 10% are defective. That’s annoying, but the markup on these things is good enough to make up for that.

Last week somebody ordered several finger lights in specific colors, one being purple. I was out of purple ones in my main stock, so I opened up the reorder that I had placed nearly a year ago. I tried a purple. It didn’t work. Tried another with the same result. Another, and another.

Uh oh.

One by one, I tested my remaining 66 finger lights. Almost all of my backup stock is defective. Now, the finger light is my #3 bestseller and one of my flagship products. I like these silly things. I can’t just mark them all down and throw them away. So this company president spent his afternoon opening up battery compartments, removing defective batteries, and salvaging as many working finger lights as possible. I wound up trashing 25 of them, and probably resurrected 15 or 20. Altogether, I’ve lost 34 out of my initial 119 units. That’s awful. And those batteries are still deteriorating in the 28 I have left.

It is way too late to seek recourse from the vendor. They’re selling them in a different package now, at fire sale prices. Their defect rate is running as high as 50% and their stock is priced dirt cheap. I’m tempted to order a huge quantity; even after throwing away half of them, they’d be lucrative. But the thought of testing hundreds of them and swapping all those little batteries in and out just makes me shudder. Reluctantly, I’m probably going to have to let them go. But maybe I'll bring in a small reorder, just to look at the repackaging and ponder. If I can maintain my existing retail price, the markup would be something like 3,000%. That is hard to ignore.

* * * * *

On a completely different subject…have you ever noticed that most of the ads Google assigns to my blog are about debt and bankruptcy? It’s depressing. I’m half tempted to remove the danged things, except that every now and again somebody clicks on one and earns me a few cents. (Hint, hint).

Other Forthcoming Topics:

  • Christmas Wrap-Up
  • What Does Success Look Like?
  • Credit Card Processing
  • Possible Futures
  • Planned features

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