Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Laying out the odds.

What I'd really like to do is an honest assessment of what I think is going to happen to my business, and to Downtown Bend, without either the hyperbole or the wishful thinking.

Best is to put 'odds' on each likely occurrence, overall.

Scenario One.

A quick, deep recession, which we've already suffered most of, and comics do very well with the Watchmen movie coming and new books sell well, and games doing well with the addition of another game store in town. Sales actually start to go up from the bottom before summer, and start approaching last years levels by end of summer.

Unlikely, but you never know. 10% odds.

Scenario Two.

Things bump along pretty much as they have been, with slowly declining sales, ending up about 40% from the peak average to the low average. Occasional empty storefronts, which are rented fairly quickly. Enough businesses to keep Bend -- relatively -- vibrant. Enough business to keep the store well stocked. But challenging through the end of the year and well into the next. Leaves us vulnerable to sudden shocks.

Mostly likely, I'd say 70% odds.

Scenario Three.

Things really crash, dropping 50% or even 60%. Storefronts empty and aren't refilled. People leave town. I start playing cribbage on the sidewalk with my neighbors, waiting for customers. Ironically, after the worst has hit, probably no more vulnerable than the above scenario, because concessions would be forthcoming, one would think. And I would just cut to the bone.

Hopefully, unlikely. I'd give it 20% odds.


Anyway, despite the last three really slow days, I went ahead and started on my February reorders.

I'll be getting pretty much a complete restock of the evergreen graphic novels.

I reordered most of the solid selling board games and card games.

Next week, I'll be ordering books and cards.

Then, it should be pretty much maintenance levels after that.

The amount I spent was about half of what I sold at Christmas -- that is, half of what I sold at Christmas were evergreen products, and half were one-ups, which don't need to be replaced.

I'd have to say there was just enough business the first two weeks of this months, just barely enough to restock the store completely. Maintenance levels should be easier from here on out. At the same time, they will have to be maintained with REAL sales, and not prospective sales.

Otherwise I'll just wait until the Summer boost. My three best months are in the second half of the year, July, August and December, proceeded by my fourth best month, June. So -- this period of January thru May is always a tough time for Bend retail, and this year it probably will be just tougher.

Trick is to get through it without going backward, without resorting to debt, without having my store empty of product.

I think I can pull that off.


Anonymous said...

The idea of spending ones afternoons playing cribbage on the sidewalk with other shop owners sounds delightfully Old European. Just the way to while away one's retirement years.

Duncan McGeary said...

Oh, I'm rather nostalgic about those days, (mid-80's) though I think I need my old neighbor, Jerry, back.

But it was the nearly begging my customers to buy something, anything, the selling stuff at near cost just to raise enough money for the next shipment, the calling my landlord and explaining my rent will be 'little' late this month.

THAT....I do not remember fondly.

With Apologies To Henry David said...

Cribbage and no wine or beer mentioned? Or should it be assumed?