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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, March 19, 2010

Drowning In a Cavalcade of Crap

A Nor’easter that churned off the New England coast for three days dumped 10 inches of wind-driven rain on Boston. By Monday afternoon Curio City’s warehouse was flooded to a depth of 4” and rising. The water crested at about 5” before we found someone to pump it out (no way I could do it with the shop vac this time!). It’s being called a 50-year flood. I hope that’s true. Some say that 50-year floods will come every 10-15 years as the oceans rise and storms grow more energetic.

Our cellar – a dark, unfinished space with no floor drain or sink – has gotten wet before. Once, the washing machine hose cracked. Once, the water heater ruptured. Once, heavy spring rains opened a hole in our fieldstone foundation. Periodically, our 20-year-old washing machine vomits up a load of soapy water. Our forced-water heating system used to trickle a few gallons onto the floor at random times.

This soggy history had already moved me to raise most of Curio City’s merchandise at least a couple of inches off the floor. Bird kites in their long shipping tubes were the only thing that I couldn’t put up. I wrote off $150 worth outright and marked 37 more down to cost (these are a major bargain, folks). I didn’t have enough room to elevate my shipping cartons and packing material, either, so the recycling truck swallowed several hundred dollars worth of cardboard cartons this morning. There are more odds and ends to find and liquidate (hah!). This will be another big blow to this year’s bottom line.

To add injury to insult, I lost my footing while wearing oversized yellow rubber boots and tumbled down the concrete bulkhead steps with an armload of soaked cardboard. My ankle buckled with an audible crunch and I smacked my head on the bulkhead frame on the way down. Five days later I am still limping, and I still have a headache.


The dread Cavalcade of Crap (a.k.a. Boston Gift Show) returns next week. This year they moved the usual Saturday opening to Sunday. My weekly beer run is my only routine Saturday obligation, so attending the Cavalcade of Crap just required going to the packy on Friday instead. Sunday, OTOH, is the most intense day of my week: Grocery Day. It takes hours to clip and file coupons, plan the week’s menu, make the shopping list, return bottles, do the marketing, put the groceries away, make dinner, and clean up afterwards. I also process Curio City’s weekend orders on Sunday afternoons. The Cavalcade (hereafter shortened to Crapfest) is not worth the serious business of disrupting Grocery Day.

Crapfest doesn’t shower swag on early birds, so there’s no reason to be there on Sunday. But going into downtown Boston on a Monday means commuting with Normals. After working for pennies in a closet for five years I can no longer blend in with people who have clothes and haircuts and dentistry and all the other luxuries of the employed. My best clothes are six years old and don’t fit. My only pair of jeans has holes, and not the fashionable kind. I haven’t had a haircut since November. My eyeglasses are crooked and my right eye doesn’t focus anymore. I can easily pass for homeless. Mingling with Normals makes me self-conscious.

Should I go at all? Most vendors show mass-market consumer crap, interchangeable souvenirs, and arsty-craftsy folkjunk. In earlier years I found a few good vendors there (e.g., Switchables, Enjoy Life, Pursehooks), but every year the show shrinks a little more. OTOH, finding even one good new product line would make it worthwhile, and all it costs me to attend is $15 worth of T fare and lunch (for some bizarre reason, my CPA always disallows it as a business expense or makes me claim it as personal income…I’ve never been able to unravel the Byzantine accounting behind that $15).

My open-to-buy says that I can spend $175. Replacing the flood damage will cost four times that much. Maybe I’ll go to Crapfest on Monday if the weather’s nice. I feel like I ought to. Given the physical and financial mess in my cellar, though, I probably won’t waste the time this year. Maybe I’ll leave it up to my swollen ankle. Taking the T entails walking three miles just to get to and from the convention center, and the showroom floor adds another mile of aisles. Theoretically, I could ask Anne to drive me…but driving is for pussies and she's probably too busy anyway. What am I, a crippled old man?

Don’t answer that.

Theoretically, I could go on Tuesday or even Wednesday. But I would be the only buyer left on the floor by then, and vendors would mug me. Or have me arrested as a homeless guy.


Reversal of fortune and new misfortune: Chargeback #1 ($105.73) was refunded on appeal! Apparently there is some justice in the financial world after all. Chargeback #2 ($70.56) is still in limbo because Discover apparently takes longer than real credit cards. Chargeback #3 ($149.43) was stolen from my checking account on Wednesday. Since these all came from the same thief, and since I have the same documentation for all three orders, I hope that the last two will break in my favor as the first one did.

Incidentally, our six-year-old water heater died after being submerged. I could light the pilot, but the burner refused to ignite. After three days without hot water, a plumber refused to repair it. We were soaked for $1,245 to replace it. An expense of that size makes even Normals blink; it's a huge sum for us.

1 comment:

  1. Paula1:08 PM

    Good grief, when it rains it pours.
    In more ways than one.

    Shave, get a haircut, pick up an ankle support from the pharmacy, and go. You need to find at least one good product line that will help you recoup some of your losses.


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