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.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, February 09, 2007

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre

First, I want to thank those readers who plowed through the whole series of “Possible Future” posts. Writing them was a very useful exercise for me. They can’t have been very gripping reading, though. If you’re still with me, you’re a real Curio City groupie.

I’ll try to break up the more ponderous posts with shorter, snappier entries (like this one) from now on.

* * * * *

Valentine’s Day is the worst of the “Hallmark Holidays”. There are maybe three courting couples in America who are so love-besotted that they think this holiday is a great idea. Many of us grudgingly bestow flowers, candy, or embarrassing underwear upon our significant others from a sense of duty or fear of repercussions. Most of us will buy a goofy card and let it go at that. Some brave souls will ignore it entirely. Most of the unattached singles that I know say that they resent Valentines Day’s annual reminder of the absence of romance in our lives. (Personally, I waver between the “buy a card” and “ignore completely” camps from year to year.)

Since Curio City doesn’t sell flowers, chocolate, or frilly underthings, I figured it could safely sit out Valentines Day. I brought in a couple of items bearing heart designs, but I don’t want Curio City to be about selling kitsch. I hoped that I’d benefit from the overall shopping uptick that accompanies Valentines Day, as some discerning shoppers would consider my merchandise appealing despite the lack of cuteness.

And so Curio City went into late January and early February with business in the toilet. This past week started out as one of the worst ever; as of Wednesday morning, we’d grossed about $25, and I was facing a $30 return credit, making it a net negative week. Traffic was flat and nobody was buying anything. On a whim, I rewrote the text for my front-page signboard to say “Happy Valentine’s Day! Same-day shipping is standard. See our News page for more details.” Then I updated the News page with shipping advice.

I did $300 in the next two days.


There are only four standard gift-giving occasions on the calendar: Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, and Christmas. I run a gift shop. Why did I think I could ignore one of them? I don’t need to stock frilly chocolate heart-shaped underthings. I just need to acknowledge that people are shopping with the holiday in mind. I probably lost a couple of hundred dollars worth of sales learning this obvious lesson.

* * * * *

Yesterday I had an unexplained rush on golf balls – four orders, one of them rather large, within an hour. Today I discovered that three of those customers were referred by the Cork Jester. One of my ill-fated press kits went to the Rocky Mountain News last November. They picked up on the discontinued switch plate covers that I am trying to unload at cost. It turns out that the Cork Jester works there. She not only linked to the remaindered switch plates on her own site, but yesterday she added my “Bunch of Grapes” golf ball on her “Presents for Winos” page. Cha-ching!

Well, not so much. The Bunch of Grapes is out of stock. After yesterday’s flurry of orders, I need to reorder golf balls anyway, so this morning I called the manufacturer. More bad news: Bunch of Grapes is indefinitely discontinued unless they should get an order for 144 sleeves (at $5 per sleeve). The Cork Jester link is welcome...but not that welcome.


That makes two precious links to products that I either don’t carry or can’t get. I reactivated the Bunch of Grapes page with a teaser message, hoping that shoppers will browse my other styles (as indeed three people did yesterday).

Future Topics:

  • One Customer At a Time
  • Credit Card Processing
  • PPC Advertising Update
  • Phases Reconsidered

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Google Search