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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 04, 2011

On the First Week of Christmas, My Customers Gave Me...

…A big rusty pail of fail.

I tremble when I turn the calendar page and November’s sales targets look back at me. Yet, every year, the customers somehow materialize. There are still people out there with disposable income, but they were two days late to the party this year and they didn’t bring enough snacks. Thanks to that late start, this week is likely to finish at least $600 behind LY (down 40%)
But Christmas is definitely here. People are snapping up some new stock and some old stock in addition to the usual bestsellers. Even at prices at or near cost, selling products that I won’t replace liberates dollars that have been frozen for years. That’s like finding money.

I feel a little like I’m rifling a corpse when I splurge on luxuries like a new laptop battery ($76 for a name-brand 9-cell) and a new mouse ($50 for a deluxe Logitech wireless). But what the hell? I need these things, and the company’s profit doesn’t magically transform into my tax-obliged money until the end of the year. Every now and then Curio City buys me nice things. I’d thought I might buy a new laptop next year, but that’s not going to happen as long as the Great Decline drags on. I can flog this 2-year-old Dell for at least another year if I periodically run Crapcleaner and Defraggler (which I really should make time to do today).  If I’m going to keep the Vostro going indefinitely, I get the lavish 9-cell battery instead of a short-lived 6-cell at half the price.

Almost by accident, I found one new item that might make a long-term difference. It turns out that Panther Vision wholesales replacement batteries. The markup on batteries is so obscene that I’m tempted to go into the battery business. The four-pack that I’m selling for $5 goes for $12 at CVS, and their cost is probably lower than mine. Each time a Panther Vision cap customer ticks the box to add replacement batteries, I effectively get a $5 price increase on my top-selling product for a very small incremental cost (and without raising my advertising spend). Boring, yes, but it’s proving to be a very popular add-on.  

I’m also encouraged by the new Nite Ize lineup’s performance so far. I quickly sold out of SlapLits and moved a few See ‘Ems and BugLits…all with no advertising beyond my Facebook announcements and newsletter. So I doubled down this week on the whole line. The BugLit in particular deserves to become a good long-term seller. I’ll probably advertise that one.

But the long term is meaningless during Christmas. It's all about the next seven weeks.

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