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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, July 18, 2008

On Vacation

On Vacation

I am champing at the bit for our annual week in the Berkshires, scheduled from Thursday, Aug. 7 through Saturday, Aug. 16. Spending time in my favorite place on earth – well, outside of the Caribbean, anyway – is the high point of the summer...itself the high point of the year. For most of the time we rent a “cabin” – which is actually larger and much, MUCH nicer than our house – called Whitman Woods. Because they only rent in one-week increments, we have to spend the first two nights at our original Williamstown address, the Maple Terrace motel. That works out to two nights “in the city” (a short walk from downtown Williamstown) and seven in the mountains (near Jiminy Peak).

During our vacation we’ll see a BSO concert at Tanglewood and visit MassMoCA, the Williams College art museum, and the Clark Institute. We’ll probably drive the Miata through Vermont's twisty two-lanes, take a hike or two, and hunt down one or two other local attractions on a whim. We will dine in at least half a dozen favorite bars and restaurants. And we’ll spend a good deal of time just hanging out at Whitman Woods, watching movies and playing with our computers. This year, our 25th wedding anniversary falls toward the end of the week (Aug. 13). We don’t have any specific plans for that.

Obviously, Curio City shuts down when I’m away from home. I’ll suspend my PPC ads, post a “warehouse closed” notice on my News page, add temporary language to the Welcome message on my home page, and send out a newsletter reminder to my subscribers. If history is any guide, I’ll still get a few orders during the week. Those customers will receive an email advising them of the shipping delay, and of course I’ll check email daily for anything else that needs my attention. There’s always something. If by some remote chance somebody places a large and urgent order, I could drive back to Braintree to fill it. Since it’s 2.5 hours and a full tank of gas each way, it would take a mighty fine order to compel a return trip.

I could close Curio City completely. There’s a simple toggle to turn the website off. Doing that would probably be a terrible idea. Replacing my store with a “closed” page would ruin my already dismal search engine rankings and drive away who knows how many potential customers who arrive directly, or through organic search results? The consequences would reverberate beyond such time as the store is actually closed.

At what point does Curio City become too big a business to simply walk away from for a week? For now, I only lose most of one paycheck -- a mere pittance. If I manage to double my sales again next year, I might have to take a hard look at whether I can afford a vacation.

Suppose I wanted to take two weeks in the Berkshires – or more? Suppose I unexpectedly get an opportunity to return to the Caribbean someday, or maybe even Europe, where I can’t haul my laptop along with me, Internet access is iffy, and I can’t drive back to handle emergencies? Curio City’s going to be a one-man show for as far out as I can see. What happens when that man wants – or needs -- to take time off?

I can’t answer that.

Not Meant to Be

To my surprise, the jewelry vendor that I wrote about a couple of times (most recently just last week) never answered my last-ditch come-to-jesus email. So I must reluctantly pronounce our association dead. I suppose there’s no harm now in revealing that I was talking about Morse code jewelry. That’s right: Very nice, high-quality, attractive bead necklaces with encoded messages. The jeweler positively will not work on a special-order basis, and I’m equally positive that stocking a few standard words would not work; online shoppers demand customization. The two other Morse code jewelry vendors who come up on Google do make their pieces to order, so there’s simply no way I could compete with them. Perhaps I will see if one of them is interested in partnering.

On the remote chance that “my” jeweler might read this post: I’m sure that your work will sell on your preferred terms in bricks-and-mortar boutiques. If you ever change your mind about Internet sales, you know how to reach me. Meanwhile, good luck.

One reader asked some time ago why I carry jewelry at all. Sometimes I wonder myself. For one thing, most of my merchandise skews toward male-oriented, so jewelry is a good counterweight for the womanly holidays (Valentines Day, Mothers Day). For another, there’s no wasted labor or money tied up in inventory because jewelers can make their pieces to order. My only really successful jewelry line (typewriter key jewelry) died of supply problems. Morse code jewelry could have filled that same niche – unusual, hip, and personalized – but without being limited by vintage materials. It would have been a great line.

Oh well. Something as good will come along eventually, or I’ll find somebody else doing the same concept with a more successful business model.

  • The Zombie Store
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1 comment:

  1. Nice proper use of the word 'champing.'

    I'm working through the whole blog and am enjoying it greatly.


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