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, November 13, 2009

Taking Leave

I seized a couple of beautiful days this week to rake my accursed lawn. I’ve got nothing personal against leaves, but one must meet minimum expectations. Sales stumbled badly while Curio City took a back seat. This was the first week since early July that I didn’t beat last year…and I missed it by well over 50%. Maybe it had something to do with Veterans Day – observed on Monday by many companies and on Wednesday by the government. Maybe it’s a school vacation week. Sales are always poor when the office workers aren’t shopping at their desks, and when their kids are underfoot. I hope it’s just a blip and not a harbinger. I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it, anyway.

At least I got the stupid leaves cleaned up. I hate that chore almost as much as I hate shoveling snow.

To counter the sales stumble I reined in some of my worst advertising excesses. I killed the most expensive words in a couple of popular products – the ones that get 4 or 5 clicks a day but never convert to sales. After years of reliable sales, I reluctantly suspended my DayClocks ads because I can’t compete with discounters ($30 plus free shipping for an item that costs $20? How do they live on a $5 markup and still outbid me in advertising?). I pulled the plug on Pirate category ads. Based on the click prices Jolly Roger stuff must be ubiquitous, and that always means that bottom feeders own the market. Not being a consumer myself often blinds me to things that are obvious to normal people.

I drove my open-to-buy deeper into the red than it’s ever been before (mainly to get the next round of new Power Caps due out in early December). Relying on tomorrow’s sales to pay today’s bills is not ordinarily my kind of gamble…but that’s how capitalism works, right? Combining deep deficit spending with a drastic drop in expected sales has me very, very worried right now.

Apparently American Express is worried, too. They noticed that I never use my whole line of credit and cut my ceiling by 50%. That’s OK; my Citizens Bank Mastercard does the heavy lifting now. The lower LOC on my Amex card will probably improve my credit rating. It's just another sign of hard times.

Well. I’m out of money and running out of time, so Christmas is locked in. Six weeks out of the year really matter. The first one just ended in unambiguous failure.

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