Welcome to Curious Business

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, August 16, 2013

(Can't Get No) Satisfaction

This week’s sales were the best since early May. With a day and a half left in the week there’s an outside shot at approaching January’s high water mark. So…Yay, right?
Not really. Advertising costs have tripled and profitability is gutted. And I’m still running more than $600 behind LY’s corresponding week, setting August up as yet another losing month. Even as things seem to improve, Curio City continues to devolve. It’s all just wind in sails.

My first-ever run on Corn-n-Tater bags was briefly exciting. The surge was clustered in both time and space (mostly California) and only lasted a day, so it was probably driven by local broadcast media. The most popular design sold out quickly; two emails to the manufacturer went unanswered and it remains out of stock. This relationship is proving to be less than satisfying.

Speaking of unsatisfying, I’m thinking hard about discontinuing Bottled Up Jewelry. Although it’s brought in a few hundred bucks over the years, I haven’t sold a piece in months. Because it’s a dropship item, and because the astronomical volume of competing recycled glass jewelry makes it impractical to advertise, offering it doesn’t cost me anything. The vendor has been extraordinarily responsive and responsible. But it’s really not clever enough to enhance the image I want for Curio City. The sheer number of product pages (over 100) is awkward and overwhelms other pieces of jewelry that I carry. I abandoned an effort to consolidate the pages when I concluded that it actually made them harder to shop, not easier. To tell you the truth, the huge number of hours that I put into creating all those pages is the main reason that I haven’t quietly deleted them already. I just can’t quite bring myself to wipe out all of that work when it doesn’t cost me anything and still brings in the rare sale. But I sure would like to trim 100+ pages from my database.

I’ve been asked why I carry jewelry at all. Well, most of my customers are in its primary demographic: Women aged 40-60. My original line of Typewriter Key jewelry was unique enough to be a real Curio City product, but it quickly fell victim to its own success – there is a limited number of antique typewriter keys in the world and customers all tended to want the same few common letters. The jeweler wasn’t thrilled with dropshipping special orders in the first place and kept putting more and more restrictions on them until I finally gave up.

I keep trying to recreate that early success. Maybe I will, someday. Unfortunately, Bottled Up is not going to do it. Being beautiful and recycled just isn’t enough to stand out from the pack. 


A few weeks ago I casually remarked that Amazon.com probably does more business in an hour than I do all year. I later read that they gross $61 billion per year. That’s $6,963,470 per hour, or $116,057 per minute, or $1,934 every second of every day. It takes Amazon 36 seconds to collect my annual sales volume.

That’s just whacked.

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