I'm absolutely fascinated by the number of new small stores opening in Bend. And at a bit of a loss to explain it.
Human endeavor is wondrously messy and unpredictable.
People do what people do. Open stores. Because they want to.
I suppose that it's good for my store to have so many new openings around it. I've always maintained that almost all stores can last 2 or 3 years; so this may just about bridge the downturn in the local economy. Any sign of brisk activity is good for the existing stores.
I'm convinced that most of us have seen a 20% drop in sales; I'm currently running about 12% down for the year, but that figure is probably going to get worse. At the same time, this has been my most profitable year; all debt paid off, current on bills, savings untouched, taxes paid in full and on time.
As I keep saying, as long as you are over your 'break-even' point, it almost doesn't matter how much you gross, it matters how much you spend. You make just as much money at 20k with 50% margins as you do at 30k with 33% margins. As long as you can manage that, your bottomline should be safe.
It's not as fun to be more careful and circumspect. I've always enjoyed the growth phases because it allows me to experiment, play around, try new things.
But the phases of being more disciplined have also been satisfying; you know, that feeling of satisfaction of being inside a warm house while the storm rages outside.
What has surprised me and gratified me, is so far even on the slowest of weeks, I've had enough to pay bills on time.
The difference this time, I think most of all, is that I don't have any debt. The debt burden in past slowdowns was horrendous. That, and the fact that I pushed sales so much above the 'break-even' point in the last growth phase (roughly 2002-2007) that I can sustain a substantial drop in sales without any danger.
I guess all it takes is 25 years of ups and downs, and hanging on by my fingernails for years, and just steadily chipping away at it.
1 hour ago