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, May 09, 2008

Curio City Online...Not!

I’m postponing Part 2 of “Rearranging the Deck Chairs” until next week. I know that you’re crushed. Try to cope. I have three reasons:

Reason the first: Just as Mother’s Day crested on Wednesday at 153 visitors – the busiest day of 2008, so far -- our home DSL connection went down. Ordinarily when that happens I just reboot the router, reboot the modem, wriggle the cable between them, and the world goes on. Not this time. After a couple of fruitless hours of resetting and reinitializing and reconfiguring, I gave up and used the town library’s internet access to verify that our Earthlink account was functional (EL has cut us off without warning in the past due to credit card expiration) and look up the local dialup access numbers. I came home and got dialup working so that I could process and ship a couple of rush orders. Then I lost the better part of two days alternating between damage control and working with Earthlink’s tech support. Their verdict: it’s Verizon’s fault. Suddenly our telephone line could no longer handle DSL.

This morning I moved the internet hardware from my wife’s overstuffed, electronics-infested office to our comparatively uncluttered bedroom. When I plugged it in a beam of sunlight stabbed through the clouds and illuminated the modem. I heard a choir of angels. Yes! The indicator lights were flickering normally again. Wireless DSL was restored. Did Verizon complete their service call so soon? Was it something they fixed centrally? Or did the problem simply go away as mysteriously as it came? I don’t know and I don’t care.

I can’t think of anything that has changed our lives as much and as quickly as high-speed Internet access did (personal computers probably had a greater effect, but they took a lot longer to become indispensable). My wife works at home four days per week and has to be accessible via IM the entire time. My website is hosted offsite, of course, but I still need constant access to it throughout the day, every day – and especially so when a holiday like Mother’s Day draws near. When we were suddenly forced to share a dialup connection, we were paralyzed. Anne, who doesn’t drink coffee, spent an entire day at a coffee shop.

Reason the second: Mentally reorganizing something that’s existed for nearly three years is hard. It’s not going very well. The new structure will either look a lot like the old one because that’s just how my mind works…or it will look very different specifically because I am consciously determined that it should be different. This is another instance when having coworkers would be helpful. I could use a perspective other than my own.

Reason the third: Since I can’t properly implement the changes that I’m doping out (see last week’s post about subcategory flyout menus), I'm not motivated to finish it. If there’s one thing I’m skilled at, it’s avoiding pointless work.

Speaking of technical malfunctions…on Monday new USPS rates will take effect. A week ago I asked Turnkey if Sunshop’s USPS module will be compliant with the new rates, or if we'll need to make a modification. They didn’t answer. I asked again. They said they were looking into it. Yesterday I asked again. Still no answer as of this morning. Although I hope that the existing module will simply keep working, I fear that USPS shipping will be screwed up on Monday morning. I asked Eric for possible emergency support if Turnkey scrambles an after-the-fact fix. The only other thing I can do is have fixed-rate shipping ready to go. Lots of stores use shipping tables anyway because realtime lookups are so complex. Many merchants believe that customers prefer fixed rates. I disagree.

The Sales Report

Curio City is on track to demolish last May. I should have no trouble doubling LY’s anemic sales. Maybe those government stimulus checks are turning this into one very nice month. My chronic open-to-buy deficit is down to three digits – good news, as I’ll need to place some reorders pretty soon. And although it still works out to only $2.50 per hour, my next paycheck will be the biggest I’ve had since the end of March, reflecting a solid two-week span.

I have decided to refrain from talking about sales figures in every week’s post. While my company is this small, the weekly numbers can be very volatile – one or two large sales make a huge difference. And it’s my nature to overreact to trends that often prove to be ephemeral; you might have noticed wide swings between doom and hope from one week to the next. Henceforth I’ll limit myself to monthly sales recaps, unless something particularly interesting deserves comment.

Upcoming Posts:

  • Rearranging the Deck Chairs (Part 2)
  • Social Networking Sites
  • Running with the Big Dogs
  • The Zombie Store
  • Where Traffic Comes From
  • Legal Extortion

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