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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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winding Down

I hope my legions of fans were not too disoriented by my failure to post yesterday. I just spaced on it. I hope it won’t bore you too much if I continue the day-to-day format that I used last week. Reviewing this will be helpful when next Christmas rolls around.

Last Friday ended up as the third-best day of the season, with 14 transactions from just 186 visitors. Saturday was better than expected despite another drop in traffic, to 153 visitors. It was not enough to save the year’s busiest week from ending 12% behind LY. Ouch! Well, what’s done is done. I’ll continue flogging what business I can for the next few days, but we’re definitely in the winding-down period now.

Sunday belied that last sentence; traffic recovered to over 200 and sales were unexpectedly strong. On Monday I awoke to three more orders in my intray; one is going to Belgium via Express Mail for $86 in shipping costs! (More on this one below). I thought I was going to have time today to balance my personal checkbook, pay the household bills, wash the dishes, take out the trash, and make dinner – all the normal-life stuff that keeps slipping. But it looks like Xmas is going to remain front and center for a little longer.

Tuesday – when I was sure things would start to die down – set a new record for the most transactions in one day (19). On Wednesday I had another stellar day, tying the 19-sale record that I set just yesterday. People are paying the big bucks for shipping now. Traffic declined steadily from 200 visitors on Sunday to just 153 on Wednesday, when my conversion rate set an all-time record of 11.76%. There aren’t as many shoppers, but they are serious about it.

Things slowed down enough on Thursday (138 visits and just four sales) that I actually had time to shovel the driveway and start my own Christmas shopping. The frenzy is gone. Friday's mere 117 unfestive visitors delivered just three more sales. There’s still plenty of work to do, some of it (like tamping down my PPC ad spending) pretty urgent. But I feel almost like I’m on vacation. On one hand, I obviously need the sales, and a fast pace makes the days fly by quickly; OTOH, I’m exhausted after working at full speed every day for the past three weeks (by one report, I shipped 469 boxes so far this month). It is a relief that I can shovel the driveway again today and finally pay the bills that were due five days ago. This brief interlude – too late for Christmas orders, and too early for complaints – is sweet.

Anyway, this week was so much better than LY that it not only erased the deficit from early December...it put me ahead of LY for the month! I sure didn’t see that coming.


This week I had the always-weird experience of buying stuff from myself – something I do very seldom because Curio City pays me so little. Kraken Enterprises buys my merchandise from the vendors. Then I buy it again with my own money (earned from Kraken Enterprises) at slightly over cost. I’m tempted sometimes to just mark it down to zero and take it, since Kraken Enterprises is really just me, but that would be stealing from myself. When I buy it the company records a sale…which contributes a few bucks to my paycheck, but also obliges me to pay sales tax! What a bizarre circle. It gets even weirder when, during the depths of the summer slump, I start selling my personal property to Kraken for disposal on eBay. The difference between me and Kraken is only legal, but I observe the line pretty strictly.

What did I buy? you may wonder. I can’t tell you because my wife has been known to read my blog. She’s already using her new Lightning Sky Fusion PurseHook, though, so there’s no secret there.

Next week I’ll start a retrospective on the good and the bad aspects of 2007, and then start the tortuous examination of my prospects for 2008. January is all about fallout – paying taxes and dealing with complaints and returns. I’m pretty sure I’m going to turn a small profit this year. I didn’t expect to be profitable until next year at the earliest. As an S Corporation, Kraken Enterprises won’t owe any federal income tax; profits get distributed to the shareholders – that’s me – as Schedule K income. The Commonwealth of Taxachusetts, of course, has no such compunction against taxing corporations. I’m sure they will extract their pound of flesh.


I mentioned earlier that a Belgian paid $86 to have a $80 globe sent to him via Global Express Guaranteed –- a premium service provided by FedEx and sold by the USPS. Knowing the futility of dealing with human clerks, I made a pre-visit to the post office to get the necessary paperwork (you can’t buy that service online). The traffic director there gave me two Customs forms to fill out. I came home, filled out their forms, boxed up my item, and stood in line for 30 minutes…only to learn that the traffic lady had gaven me the wrong forms. So I had to start over. Then the clerk couldn’t find a necessary item code, so we had to fudge it. Then it turned out that my site’s shipping routine had read the cost table for documents instead of packages; shipping a box would cost $30 more than the customer paid. That wiped out the markup on the item. Altogether I spent about 90 minutes shipping a parcel that netted $0 profit. You know I’m ambivalent about international orders anyway; the first thing I did when I got home was remove the Global Express Guaranteed shipping option.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:44 AM

    Ken, I confess I haven't read your blog before now. But what a gas to read! First, my son loved the 4LED camo cap - my husband had his doubts, but I knew our son would love it. He and I "get" each other - ha! I've never had a small business like you have, and reading about your daily (hourly?) aggravations and successes has MY stomach in knots! Congrats on sticking with it, having very cool products, and doing this well so far. And being a very entertaining writer! Joan


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