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, April 11, 2008

The Cavalcade of Crap

As usual, I walked the entire Boston Gift Show floor before lunchtime. As usual, I found only a few dubious candidate products amid the cornucopia of mass-market junk. As usual, my most productive time was spent browsing the handmade and local vendors in the last couple of aisles; as usual, most of that stuff was crafty kitsch and boring ordinary jewelry. And, as is becoming usual, I found one good vendor just as I was about to give up and declare it a wasted morning.

It’s not the Next Big Thing on a par with lighted caps. But I’m confident that I’ve found my first successful jewelry line since supply problems killed off Typewriter Key jewelry. I met a local artist who makes beautiful, high quality, custom jewelry designs with a clever hook, and who will be happy to dropship to my customers. Working this out before Mothers Day is suddenly high priority. Right now, I’m waiting for the jeweler to respond to my initial proposal. There’s no link here because I don’t want to tip my hand until I have a product page set up and the details worked out.

But getting back to crap…. I had to pay quarterly taxes last week. Last year the IRS had changed me from a quarterly filer of Form 941 to an annual filer of Form 943. This year they changed me back to quarterly again. QuickBooks tells me that $526 of my current $826 bank balance belongs to the IRS and the Mass. DOR. The state returns were easily done online. It only took an hour to pay my sales tax, report my wages, pay my income tax withholding, and pay my unemployment taxes. The sales tax report is always tricky because only my Masshole customers are taxed, and they’re only a fraction of my total business. I know that the other 49 states would love to rectify that. I pray that it never happens.

As of today, my paper form 941 has still not arrived. I was going to download the PDF and print it out today when I discovered that the payment is actually not due until 4/30. So I’ll give them another week to send my preprinted form. Stoopid government.

Digging up even more crap…. My website was down sporadically for at least two days last week. MochaHost blamed two unspecified “server problems” that are apparently solved now. I hope that being offline explains why sales slumped so seriously last week. I’m probably not going to hit my plan, and even beating LY looks iffy. It’s likely to be my slowest week since October 2007. At least last week was a good time for downtime, if one must endure such. Our first gorgeous spring days and some competing personal priorities (income taxes, doctor appointment, etc.) took me away from Curio City anyway. The yard isn’t going to rake itself, is it?

The Forrester Research Group predicts that online sales will grow 17% this year despite the lousy economy. I hope that’s more relevant to me than all the recessionary hand wringing that dominates the news daily now. I don’t care if bricks and mortar retail dies. If you’re a regular reader, you already know that I can’t understand how stores survive anyway. And I hate shopping.

A number of readers (“one” is a number, right?) mentioned liking the bulleted “coming topics” that used to appear at the end of my posts back in the olden days. I don’t write as far ahead as I did when this blog was new, and I’ve blown myself out on a lot of subjects, so it’s harder to forecast future posts these days. But I’ll try.

Coming topics:

  • Post #100
  • Moving things around
  • Running with the Big Dogs
  • Focus, Juice
  • Legal Extortion


  1. One is, indeed, a number.

    Good to hear that the BGS wasn't a complete waste, but I'm not seeing how jewelry fits with the rest of your product line. Sales are sales, I suppose, but I rarely see jewelry in offline stores along with a mixture of other items (excepting womens clothing stores, which does seem like a good match). But anything that sells is good, I suppose. And I can kinda see hubbys picking up something as a gift and then finding stuff that they'd like in their own offices or studies or something.

    Bummer on the outage. I can only imagine that LY is pretty meagre this time of year. When was Easter in '07? That probably affects your sales rates as well (and wouldn't correspond with LY too well).

  2. Our Switchables stained glass jewelry complements the popular Switchables night lights. Bicycle chain bracelets go along with our other new recycled bicycle part items. Pursehooks (although not strictly jewelry) are a classic Curio City item -- clever, useful, attractive, and well-made. Those are all natural fits. You're correct, though, that ordinary jewelry is a stretch. The Earthsong collection is there because my wife and I both liked it when we saw it displayed at a gift shop in Portsmouth, and I established a working relationship with the studio at a previous Boston Gift Show. It improves my store's interest to women at no real cost, since I don't need to carry any inventory. But it does not enhance my overall "brand".

    I think you'll understand how jewelry can contribute to the Curio City concept when I reveal this new line.

    My annual sales lull runs from mid-March through early June, with a shorter trough around back-to-school time. I've not noticed Easter having any effect, although school vacation weeks always put a ding in my sales. Parents take time off from work to babysit their children...and when people aren't at work, they aren't shopping.

  3. Looking forward to seeing the new jewelry line Ken.


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