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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, January 24, 2014

That Cautious Old Man On the Flying Trapeze

Newsday plans to feature the Tunes for Two headphone splitter in a print and TV tie-in story about high-tech Valentines Day gifts. The print guide, scheduled for Feb. 3, will feature seven items with a picture of the product, its name, description, price, and where to buy…where I’m assured it will say “curiocityonline.com.” It will also run on newsday.com, as well as mobile apps and an e-edition. 

The TV spot is being shot on Feb. 5 (but might run later than that) on Cablevision News 12, where it will be one of 15 products without the tech theme.

Newsday’s print circulation is 265,000. If 0.5% of their readers are motivated to go online, that’s 1,325 potential visitors. My usual 2% conversion rate would produce 26 sales. The various electronic tie-ins (including TV) might double that to 52. So my conservative estimate ballparks this at 50 sales worth $600…but it could be anywhere from zero (such as I got from that New Jersey magazine) to several times that number. It all depends on what percentage of their readers will seek me out.

Downsides: This product has sold just four pieces over the past several years. I only have seven in stock, so I’ll have to order another 48 to support my sales estimate. They are, of course, nonreturnable. I risk spending $300 that I can ill-afford and getting stuck with a product with a proven record of failure. Feb. 3 publication is another hurdle; ordinarily Valentines business dies off two weeks before the holiday. If I’m underestimating demand, I won’t have any time to bring in reinforcements.

If I had money to spare, I’d rather risk getting stuck with unsalable merchandise than turning away sales. But money’s tight. Right now I have $55.13 left after my January charge bills and most of my taxes are paid. I was feeling good about being in the black even though February brings another $2,565 in charges and taxes versus anticipated revenue of $3,000. Add a few hundred bucks for payroll and the month breaks even at best. 

I was expecting to do a tightwire act in February and circumstances handed me a trapeze instead.

Right now I’m pursuing a long shot: Asking the vendor to provide the stock on consignment. That would maximize everybody’s potential returns without putting all the risk on me. I doubt that they’ll go along, but we’ll see. Assuming they turn me down, I need to make a hard decision later today.

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