Thursday, July 2, 2009

I've almost pushed that rock to the top of the hill....

I feel as though I have most everything in the store that I want to have in the store, or that I think I should have in the store.

If I don't have it, I probably haven't heard of it, or I've not thought of it yet, or I don't basically want it.

Oh, sure. Who wouldn't like to have multiple copies, who wouldn't want to fill every tiny little possible hole. know? I've almost done that.

Anyone who has ever had a store will know what a BIG STATEMENT that is. I spent years apologizing for how little I had, years more trying to get to adequate supplies, years more trying to get above average. Years more adding new product lines and starting the whole process all over again.

So, to actually GET THERE, is pretty amazing.

I'm not saying I have every possible seller. But I do have the mix of product I've been striving for. Lovingly handpicked. So that I have the best chance in my opinion of selling something to the broad mix of customers who come in the door. Part of that feeling is from experience, part from cold, hard data, but mostly it's intuition.

I have always had a nagging feeling that one area of my store or another is missing important components. For the first time, the nagging feeling is gone, and I have a sense of completeness. I know that it is temporary, but!...... I may be able to keep up from here. Instead of constantly playing catchup.

I don't have everything, but I've got a good solid selection in every category, which is really all I can do. It's impossible to have everything.

The book world, for instance, is endless. (I just read that 275,000 titles were printed last year.) Just look at Powell's.

But that was never my goal. I wanted a very good selection of good books; I wanted certain authors and genres covered. I wanted my favorites, and I wanted a constant flow of intriguing titles. I've got that covered.

So, yeah. It's pretty much there. I never thought I'd say that.

What's interesting is, I think 99% of the potential customers of the type of material I'm covering would find something to like. It's turned my job from trying to convince someone to buy something else LIKE what they wanted, to actually trying to help them FIND what they wanted.

I've tried to fill the nooks and crannies of material that either dismissed or overlooked by the big chain stores. I think nerd culture is wide, but shallow. That's counter-intuitive, since being a nerd implies a deep and strong attachment to a narrow pop culture niche.

Still, I think 'cult' favorite is just another way of saying, 'not quite popular with the average consumer.'

It actually took another 2 product lines to finally get me to a place where I feel the sales have smoothed out. New books and games. New books is, in fact, a mass market product, but I can sell it in a niche-y way. The equivalent of a small music store selling vinyl records.

In a sense, it is the fulfillment of my business plan. There are going to be plenty of people who think I'm not doing a good job of keeping in what they want: for instance, there are many comic customers who don't think a store is any good without an extensive back-stock, without graded comics, without collector rarities. There are plenty of game customers who don't think a store is any good without a playspace. There are plenty of sport card customers who don't think a store is any good without superstars and newer singles and graded cards. There are plenty of book customers who would don't think a store is any good without an extensive selection of non-fiction.

For reasons to many and varied to go into here, I decided not to do those things. I chose a different path.

And for the path I chose, the store is pretty much caught up.

Having twice as much of the same kind of stuff I currently have wouldn't make much difference, at this point. Kind of like the Star Trek guy who proclaimed "You don't have anything," and after he left I counted over 100 separate units of S.T. So, am I to believe that having 200 units would change his attitude?

What he was really saying was, "You don't have the particular item I was looking for," which is a completely different thing.

No one will ever have everything that anyone could possibly be looking for....right?

So in every category of product I currently carry, I've got the 80% or more of the stuff an interested party would be interested in. The other 20% stretches to infinity..................................................................................................AND BEYOND!

1 comment:

RDC said...

"The book world, for instance, is endless. (I just read that 275,000 titles were printed last year.)"

That statement reflects the biggest issue facing e-book systems. There are so many choices that you cannot just have the ability to buy. There must be a method for introducing potential readers to authors/topic that they might like. In the past this was handled by books stores and the initial selection their buyers would do as well as the fact that they would only carry a limited set in a given subject area. That made it easy for readers to browse to find items of interest (a lot of book sales are impulse buys).
Today with the electronic systems potential readers can get easily overhelmed with the number of choices. While people feel that unlimited choice is a plus, I believe that when faced with too large of a selection buyers actually shut down (Alvin toffler had a good discussion of that in his book Future Shock)