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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, October 23, 2015

The Wisdom of Age

Do you think the thieves are getting smarter or falling down on their game? This week's email said:

I will like to know if you do carry golf balls for sale, can you get back to me with the  types you have instock, and also would like to know if you do accept credit card payment,so that we can proceed.

Not revealing one's scam in the initial contact counts as criminal genius. I might have fallen for it if I hadn't seen it all over the past 10 years. The "customer" (a) doesn't know what I carry, yet wants to order some anyway; (b) is concerned chiefly about credit card acceptance (every legitimate business takes credit cards and my payment options are prominently displayed on my website); and (c) either doesn't speak English or is a Millennial. But the real tipoff is the email address: "firstname" + "lastname" + "three-digit number" at gmail is always suspect.

Experience brings wisdom. Age brings experience. At least it does if you're paying attention.


Speaking of "the past 10 years," I bought my Sunshop license and started developing the original store on 10/2/05. I had incorporated in August, IIRC, the first sale was on 11/21/05, and the first sale to a stranger wasn't until 12/5, so take your pick for Curio City's actual 10th anniversary. I think I'll go with 11/21. 


Speaking of sleazeballs, a clever spammer found a new way around my filters. Adding them to Outlook's Junk Senders list weeds out the amateurs. For the professionals, I add key phrases that never appear in real message subjects to my Penis Rule (so-called because "penis" was the first keyword I added to it). I can usually block 90% of the garbage that floods in every day.
This new sleazeball stymies adds random spacing and punctuation to his subject lines. "Draft kings" might have one space, or two, or more, or hyphens and spaces. I can't add all possibilities to the Penis Rule, so I wind up deleting them manually. Congratulations on discovering a new way to irritate people, Sleazeball!  


Speaking of dodgy subject lines: My "Sanders vs Trump" clickbait headline actually got fewer views than usual -- 23 on Blogger and just 12 on Facebook, vs. 67 for the previous week's Trump headline. Trump got four Likes and a couple of comments, while Sanders only got one Like. Let's hope that doesn't foretell our next president.  


I recently put $800 worth of old Metal Earth models on the credit card with the intention of spending as much on new ones. Well friends, I waited too long. By the time I started slogging through it virtually everything that I really wanted was sold out. I still spent $1,100 on what I consider second-string models, and that only bought 36 of nearly 100 candidates (just about doubling my inventory). $1,900 worth of deficit spending has produced no sales at all yet, but I won't start panicking until after Halloween. I need to see some encouragement before I blow another $500 or so on "coming soon" models.

I'm not thrilled with anything from my other usual vendors. They're already running out of stock and they're difficult to order from anyway, so all of my eggs are in the Metal Earth basket by default. Did you know that most of these companies don't have online wholesale ordering? One doesn't even put their order form online, so I can't see what's still available or what happened to prices since my last order. They expect us to use human sales reps. That's so 20th century....  

Today I'm grappling with the most difficult vendor of all to finish off my Christmas buying and will have most of the inventory before Halloween. I'll be carrying a staggering $6,000 in debt into the season. But if I can count on matching LY's lackluster holiday sales, I should gross $16,000 during November and December. $3,200 (20%) of that goes to payroll (yay!), $6,000 digs me out of debt, Google and PayPal take $3,000 for advertising and payment processing, and I might need $2,000 for reorders. That reckoning still leaves me $1,000 in the clear. That's just enough to pay for taxes and tax return preparation and survive 2016.  

So it's going to be OK. But I'll feel a lot better when Metal Earth starts trickling out.        

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