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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 02, 2012


Hurricane Sandy’s tropical storm-force winds barely brushed the Boston area. My office roof didn’t leak and our cellar (Curio City’s warehouse) didn’t flood. We didn’t even lose power in Braintree. The only consequence of the storm was a slight shipping delay caused by no mail service on Monday…and a disruption in my holiday merchandise strategy (more on that below).

Sales have been so poor for so long that I don’t know if I can attribute this week’s sluggishness to Sandy or not.

Yeah, October extended my long string of flops despite a couple of large sales that staved off complete disaster. The numbers:


Total income: -19.9%
Total COGS: -18.9%
Payroll: -38.6%
Marketing: -13.3%
Net Income (Profit): +111.1%

Year to Date: 

Total income: -7.1%
Total COGS: -8.1%
Payroll: -1.3%
Marketing: -3.0%
Net Income (Profit): -326.3%

The spin: October’s double-digit sales decrease was a little smaller than September’s and costs fell by almost as much as sales. Advertising still cost more than it should have, but the bottom line was a tiny profit vs. a small loss LY. 

The YTD numbers speak for themselves. 

Christmas is just not materializing. As much as I’d like to believe that that monstrous quasi-religious holiday is fading into oblivion, I have to blame two things: Tired old merchandise and tepid cash flow.

All of my old mainstays are waning. Switchables don’t justify the huge inventory that I have to keep on hand; Panther Visioncaps are nowhere near the star that they used to be; bird kite season is over; the usual tournament-driven surge in golf balls didn’t come this fall; and I had to stop or scale back advertising for earbuds, keyboard stickers, and 3D puzzles. Even some bestselling standalone products like Whisky Stones and Fuzz Scarves have dropped off to almost nothing.

Cash flow won’t let me place holiday orders until my credit card statement resets on November 12. Those orders will arrive just before Thanksgiving’s official starting gun for an extremely short holiday season of scarcely four weeks. This new line of Metalworks models is my big gamble for this year. I hope they’ll be a bright spot, but I don’t expect them to save Christmas.

I did have just enough cash to place one major order before the 11/12 reset. Since I had a customer requesting one of their products, I decided on 10/21 to go with (a Vendor Who Shall Remain Nameless) despite some misgivings based on their checkered fulfillment history; half of the orders I give them get screwed up in one way or another and they’re extremely slow under the best circumstances. Their sales rep emailed me the next day to get my updated credit card info. Yesterday I still didn’t have my stuff. The Vendor Who Shall Remain Nameless had lost the updated payment info and the order was never placed. When I asked the rep to please make sure that it goes through today, I got this reply:

Our warehouse was closed due to the effects of Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. The power is still out at our warehouse and they’re currently using a generator in their offices. We are virtually unable to ship at this time. As of today, we are still unsure if UPS will be able to reach our facility to pick up shipments that we are able to pack. Also, the port of New Jersey is closed; this will effect the inbounds of items into our inventory.

Translation: I gambled on the wrong vendor, and I might never see this order. I'm wondering if I should just cancel it outright.

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