Saturday, May 26, 2007

How I Learned to Stop Worrying....and Love the Bubble.

Not much I can do about it, is there? My fixed expenses are my fixed expenses. I'm halfway through a lease, so I'm still enjoying the rents rates that were in existence a few years ago. Every other fixed expense is as low as I can get them, irreducible, except for the employee. The employee, I've decided, is NOT a discretionary expense. Not if I want to have any days off, any vacations, or any quality of life.

I've arranged for more than half of my discretionary funds to be non-committed. That is, I can spend them or not depending on how things are going. The difference won't be between breaking even or losing money, but between making money and breaking even. I've been planning for this two year stretch for several years.

I also have some countervailing forces at work here. Comics are having a good run, I've lost some competitors, fantasy and SF seem to move ever more steadily toward the center of pop-culture. I've got a full store, with many functional product lines. I'm in a part of downtown that has become much, much busier in the last couple of years, and show every sign of getting even busier.

A busy economy but low comic sales -- or a slow economy and busy comic sales.

A busy economy but slow location -- or a slow economy and a busy location.

A busy economy but slow market share -- or a slow economy and an busy market share.

And so on. Seems as if they cancel each other out.

On the cusp of Bend's housing bubble, say the end of 2003, my store was doing half the business it's now doing. My part of downtown was still the hinterlands. My rent had just gone up. I was working almost every day. My store had maybe a third of the inventory it now has, as well as only 3 or 4 functional product lines. I had high debt, no credit, no assets (sounds scary, but its more or less my reality for the previous 20 years.)

Now, we own a house that has (supposedly) double in value. We have low and manageable debt, and access to all the credit we are ever likely to use. Our stores are both humming along.

Even with the dangers, I'm so much better situated that I'll take it.

So, Yahoo! Ya hoooooooo!

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