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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, November 19, 2010

On the Third Week of Christmas, Some Shoppers Gave to Me...

Blog entries will be terse between now and New Years as I focus exclusively on sales. I’m largely repeating last year’s posts anyway, right down to griping about leaf removal. The nine or 10 sales per day (16 yesterday!) that I’m averaging now is healthy, but not quite as robust as LY, when the discounted 2-LED caps were flying out of here.

Week Two ended up a little short of LY. O Veterans Day, why did you have to fall on a Thursday? You encouraged the Normals to take 5-day weekends, and you know that sales plummet when office workers are trapped at home with their idled children instead of happily shopping on the job. Together with Week One’s tiny surplus, the month was flat going into this week.

Week Three (ending now) is also falling short. The large customer return that I authorized last week sent Tuesday deeply into the red. It barely clawed its way back out of the grave (yeah, I’m watching Walking Dead) but the week never recovered from that setback (barring a miraculous resurrection in the remaining day and a half).

Last year’s Week Four included a negotiated $450 cap sale. There’s nothing like that on the horizon this year, although one company has been playing coy for weeks about buying a dozen caps. Next week’s prospects look grim with that big holiday squatting in the middle, and the Christmas season is half over.

Credit card sales seized up completely at one point. PayPal ordinarily makes up no more than 15-20% of my transactions…and usually the smallest ones, as people tend to use PayPal as a spare-change account. Last weekend PayPal suddenly accounted for 90% of my sales. Even perennial also-ran Google Checkout picked up a bit of share. I feared that credit card processing was broken.

My batch didn’t settle last Wednesday night. No biggie; it’s happened before. I batched out manually on Thursday morning and sent them an email, to which they replied that they’d done some routine maintenance and my account was overlooked in the cleanup. That’s when charge sales fell to nothing. My test transactions were fine, and I still got one or two real charges on Friday and Saturday – just enough to assure me that nothing was actually broken.

Small sales could partly explain the over-abundance of PayPal transactions. But I think Americans are trying harder to park their credit cards this year. I suspect that if I could distinguish debit from credit sales, the former would prevail. I would applaud my countrymen’s worthy efforts if Curio City didn’t depend upon them impulsively buying unnecessary stuff.

Credit cards came back from that dramatic fade, but I’m actually seeing more Discover charges as people try to maximize their cash back. Seeing my PayPal balance surge past my checking balance is creepy. PayPal has the advantage of paying instantly, and they pay a token interest rate on balances each month (just a few cents)...but their processing fees are the highest.


People are splurging on giftwrapping. I used to hate how it slows me down while the trivial amount collected (all of $51.50 last year) gets lost in the bottom line. I’m much more kindly disposed toward giftwrapping since I started diverting those fees to payroll this year. So far it’s put $95 directly into my pocket.

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