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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, December 05, 2008

Into the Stratosphere

Everything comes down to December. The month started well. Sunday hit 13 sales (my record is 19) and traffic surpassed 300 visitors for the first time this year. On “Cyber Monday” traffic rose to 336 even while transactions fell to 6. Tuesday brought no sales at all through noon – maybe because the stock market dropped 600 points on Monday? Then it came back in the afternoon to finish strong.

I spent Wednesday morning in the dentist’s chair, and then struggled to catch up for the rest of the day. Visits surpassed 400. That afternoon a New York Times editor called to tell me that they are featuring one of my products in their holiday gift guide. I only had 21 of my original 24 recycled motherboard Christmas trees in stock. They were gone by 10 am Thursday morning.

There are not enough superlatives to describe Thursday. I had 49 sales (previous record was 19, remember?). Google counted 2,012 visits; I had thought 400 was a lot. The day’s dollars surpassed my monthly totals in February, April, and August – I did a month’s worth of business in one day. This week (with most of two days left) beat April and August combined – two months worth of sales in one week.

Yes, it’s a silly product, but such is the power of the media. I’m taking notification requests for the 288 more that are now on order; some could arrive as soon as today, but more probably on Monday and Tuesday. An astonishing 89 people have joined my notification list, many asking for three or four pieces. I’m running out of merchandise, boxes, packing material…everything. Shoppers are stripping me of even my oldest, most moribund merchandise. I am having trouble keeping up.

Ironically, the New York Times was not among the 50-or-so newspapers that we targeted with our email marketing last month, nor was this product among those that I tried to promote. It really was a random lightning strike.

I aspire to earn the minimum wage someday. Earlier this year I got my average pay consistently up to about two bucks an hour, but that still makes the Massachusetts $8 minimum wage seem like a distant pipe dream. Well, for the two weeks ended 11/22, I earned $9.84 per hour. Thanks to the New York Times, my next paycheck is already at $15 per hour and still growing. $20 per hour isn't out of the question. It’s been many years since I’ve earned that kind of money. I can even pay the dentist!

Earning a living without an employer, working alone and from my home -- in my pajamas! – must describe some kind of new American dream. Especially for an undereducated, unskilled person like myself.

Now my thoughts turn to the annual shareholder distribution. How big will Curio City’s profit be this year? How much of that will exist as cash on hand? How much of it will I pay myself? (Answer to the last question: As much as possible! I must cover the 25% income tax burden at the bare minimum, and I hope that I can buy my wife a lavish Christmas present, too. OTOH, I need to make sure the business has enough cash to cover its tax payments and charge bills, with enough left over to pay my CPA for tax prep, too. I am spending money like a madman this week to service the traffic I'm getting.)


November ended a little weaker than I had hoped and dragged down my annual numbers. December is obviously going to pump them back up again. Here are the numbers for November:

  • Total income: +53.9%
  • COGS: +74.3%
  • Gross profit: +38.8
  • Payroll: +60%
  • All expenses: +95.3%
  • Net income (profit): (-38.9%)

Same numbers for YTD:

  • Total income: +69.8%
  • COGS: +70.2%
  • Gross profit: +69.5%
  • Payroll: +88%
  • All expenses: +57.5%
  • Net income: +97.7%

As you can probably imagine, I need to get back to work pronto.

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