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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, December 09, 2011

On the Sixth Week of Christmas, My Business Gave to Me...

...Six days of sickness/A five-digit month/four minutes offline/three giveaways/two gorgeous days/and a big rusty pail of fail.

Last week my wife brought a virus home from New York, as she traditionally does when she travels. This week it jumped into my head and chest. After slogging through long days of processing orders, shipping packages, reordering stock, and ordering supplies, I needed long naps. I couldn’t do anything proactive at all.

Sales were good even without any higher brain functions engaged. It might have made some small difference if I could have worked on a late newsletter, monitored my ad campaigns, put out some facebook tweets, and returned telephone messages promptly. But recent reports that the American consumer is again consuming with gusto are not exaggerated – which is especially good after I had to refund $102 today, making it the first sub-par day of the week.

My “Christmas Lite” strategy of bringing in fewer marginal new products is being vindicated as people buy marginal old products instead. Take, for example, ear buds: I don’t sell more than half a dozen of those all year, and I have 100+ in stock. I was planning to phase them out. But in the past two weeks I’ve moved at least a couple dozen. I also cleared out at least eight old discontinued products. When all the dust settles, I hope that my inventory level will be a thousand bucks lower than it was last year, and with the money more effectively invested.

There are some unexpected casualties. Fuzz scarves have died almost entirely after consistently strong sales for the past three winters. Whisky Stones were very slow coming off the blocks, although they are surging now. Switchables are scarcely participating in Christmas at all. Competitor shenanigans have driven that line down many times before, so I presume that's happening again. I should investigate that when I get time, as there are a crapload of inventory dollars locked up there.

But I won’t start a post-mortem with two more weeks left to go. Next week should be the peak. It’s a good thing the virus has mostly finished with me, because naps won’t be an option if the shoppers frenzy as expected – no matter how bushed I get (and doesn’t that word seem even more apt after the disastrous presidency?).

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