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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, October 28, 2011

Scary October Numbers

It’s time for the annual leap of faith: I have bought $2,000 more Christmas stock than I can pay for on the assumption that customers will start showering me with money next week. If they don’t, I’m seriously hosed, because that’s a ton of money considering that nothing I’ve bought really stands out. And I’m not done buying yet. It doesn’t help that one of my vendors (who shall remain nameless for now) short-shipped me by $288 and has ignored two inquiries; if my past struggles with this company are any guide, it will take a month to straighten it out, and they'll screw it up a little worse in the process. Meanwhile my credit card statement is unbalanced, and you know how I hate that.

This month’s numbers show that the money shower is a light drizzle at best. I would have loved another double-digit increase in October. I was hoping to break even until this week devolved into a double-digit decrease. Excel says the month finished down $750; Quickbooks calls it $900. Not a good Christmas omen either way. 


Total income: -18.1%
Total COGS: -21.4%
Payroll: -0.4%
Net Income (Profit): -177.6%


Total income
: -4.3%
Total COGS: -7.4%
Payroll: -0.7%
Net Income (Profit): -307.3%

At this time last year I was running a $400 profit. This year I’m $900 in the red. The difference comes out of my bonus at the end of the year. Anything can happen during the eight weeks of Christmas that are just starting now. But to close a $1,300 bottom-line gap I need roughly five times that amount on the top line, and I'm not physically capable of moving that much additional stock. 

Advertising is the biggest blot on my bottom line -- $2,000 more than LY. Second-biggest is internet access, which is a new expense this year. Those two items together account for more than the entire deficit…which means I’m doing well with my other expenses. Thanks to Congress's financial reform, credit card processing fees are running 14% behind LY. 

Well, with the hand-wringing out of the way all I can do is keep on plugging.


Feedback from a couple of friends, combined with today’s newsletter publication, verified my suspicion that anything auto-posted to my Facebook wall by Constant Contact or Networked Blogs won’t appear in Facebook news feeds. That means that only a handful of motivated people will make the effort to read my blog entries or newsletters from now on. The new-product announcements that I post manually do appear as expected, so I’ve not gone completely dark.


And just because I’m a statistics junkie, yesterday’s newsletter looks like this: 

•    201 emails sent
•    6 bounces (four of them to @mac.com addresses, whatever that is)
•    1 opt-out (from someone in the Netherlands)
•    65 opens (33%, considered very good)
•    19 clicks (29.2%, also very good)
•    1 known sale

Not bad considering there was no coupon offer. The LED Motherboard Christmas Tree was the most-clicked item…people are definitely holiday shopping. I don’t expect that former bestseller to do very well this year after the price rose from $9.99 to $16.99.


  1. I always enjoy reading your blog here, but (purely IMHO of course) some of your business decisions leave me scratching my head.

    In a year where you have said many times sales are below average, your YTD is -307% from last year, people aren't spending, and you admit none of products you bought 'stand out', let's spend $2,000 more than you can pay for right now on those products?

    If I were your partner in business, let's just say you and I would be having a serious talk right now. :)

  2. I know...deficit spending offends my cautious nature. But as I've said before, I cannot sell what I do not have; if Christmas business doesn't materialize as usual, I might as well just give up entirely. That's the annual leap of faith I referred to.

    In terms of covering the bills, the YTD top line raw income number (-4.3%) is more pertinent than the bottom line.

    I have stumbled upon something that might make enough marginal difference to turn the numbers around over the long haul...I'll explain that in my next post.


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