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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 18, 2011

A Flood of Memory

Pause with me for a moment’s reflection on Curio City’s disaster days. Several days of historically heavy rains flooded our cellar last March 14 and destroyed hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise and supplies. At the same time I was unknowingly racking up big fees by challenging the unfair chargebacks generated by three fraudulent sales; the bank would ultimately get more than the thieves did. A week later a smaller flood drowned the month’s bottom line. This March should look a little better simply by virtue of holding no disasters.

“Disasters?” I use the word deliberately. Curio City’s trials pale in comparison to Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, nuclear meltdowns, and the return of Godzilla. But Curio City doesn’t have a powerhouse economy and the sympathy of the world on its side. All it has is me, and that ain't much.
Still, I'm essential enough that I didn’t lay myself off last year (although I did put a stern “Needs Improvement” review in my permanent record). Massachusetts rewarded my largess by cutting my unemployment tax rate by nearly 1% of payroll. That will add a (very) few more bucks to the Net Income line.

While I’m nickel-and-diming…has anybody in the history of the world ever really used a “.biz” internet address? Why do I keep paying $16 a year to renew mine? Well, to prevent anyone else from buying it, of course. But who would do that, given that I own the US service mark?

Nickels and dimes are all that I’m bringing in as yet another sales disaster unfolds. I only broke three digits once in the past 10 days. I’m paying more for traffic than I’m making in sales. In hopes of liberating some of the dollars imprisoned in the cellar, I cut the prices of all of my old marked-down stuff this week, but most of that dead stock will never move at any price. I wrote off $138 worth and might wipe out a bit more before the month ends, since it doesn’t cost me any cash. Of course, it doesn’t free up cash, either. I’m flogging the Panther Vision cap changeover as hard as I know how to do with new ads, new keywords, and increased bids. It's not making much difference.

This month’s early sales spike made me hope that I could revive two spending priorities: Buy a video camera and buy a smart phone, in that order. The camera might be a small revenue-booster, but it’s also a time sink that comes with a learning curve, and I probably won’t be any good at using it. The smart phone, being expensive and of no practical use, is just one of those things I feel like I ought to have; it’s only on the list because my old flip phone barely works. But both of those are back on hold now.

Hmm, I wonder if smart phones have acceptable-quality video cameras these days.

I almost wrote that “It couldn’t be much worse,” but just like life, business can always get worse. In fact, zero isn’t even rock bottom: A damage claim and a lost shipment turned this week briefly negative on Monday. It’s on track to set another record low.

You must be tired of reading the same lament week after week, if anybody’s even still reading this blog. I’m sure sick of writing it. Other than month-end numbers, I’m not going to post anymore unless I have either good news or something interesting to complain about. All I've said for the past six months is “sales suck,” and I am out of ways to phrase that.

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