The business climate seems pretty inexorable right now.
I noticed another 'For Lease' sign in a window on the way to the parking garage last night; the store next to it had a 50% off everything sign, which is never good.
My list of stores leaving downtown Bend has hit about 16, stores opening about 6. The Bulletin pegged the vacancy rate downtown at only 5%, which seems low unless we started with an even lower rate.
Got a call from the only other comic dealer I talk to on a regular basis; he has a similar situation and longevity. He was feeling kind of down about things -- the downturn caught him more unprepared, I think. We seem to leapfrog each other a lot. I'll have a few good years and then retreat; then he'll have a few good years and then retreat.
He's more dependent on games than I am, and I think games are having a hard time of it.
I'm actually looking forward to the Magic store opening downtown, because I'm hoping he can get some activity going.
The comics press has been in denial about comics mostly; being mostly comic people, they are defensive about it. But I think comics are down, despite what the statistics they feed the media say. The statistics reflect sales to retailers, not customers, and I'm guessing the retailers had a less than stellar last quarter.
Diamond distributer, a de facto monopoly, has raised the limits on independents, which is causing a lot of concern since smaller publishers already are struggling.
It just makes me want to push into books even more and even faster.
Modern technology and modern media make everything uncertain right now. The Bulletin had two articles today; how not to spend money, and how to trade books online for free.
But none of the product I sell, or indeed, none of the product I could sell, is immune from change.
So I have to look to my own business model, and try to maneuver my way through the mess.
As I was telling Tim, yesterday, about how a used bookstore is dependent on what books people bring in, so too will such "Free" arrangements. So too with things like Kindle.
My store, being in a foot traffic heavy, tourist heavy area, needs to be designed to pick up the impulse reader. Just present them with so many good books, that they can't resist. (Because in the back of their minds, many people will know it ain't that easy, and they just won't want to wait.)
But no matter what kind of store I try to design, the point will be to try to find ways to endure in the face of constant change.
4 days ago