Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hodge podge thoughts.

So far, my days off haven't been days off, much. We got a notice from the city to cut back the trees and shrubs overhanging the sidewalk. That took away last Sunday. Then on Thursday, got a call from the landlord to put the boxes of books in the downstairs area into my storage rooms.

I knew that I was bending the rules a bit by stacking them along the walls, but I was hoping to get away with it by stacking the boxes neatly. So I went yesterday afternoon, and hauled a ton of books into my storage. When I looked at it, I estimated 2 hours -- IF I didn't get sidetracked.

It's easy to get sidetracked, to see all the other tasks that need to get done, but I held to my resolve and it took two hours exactly. Then....I started some of the other tasks, and that took another couple hours. I was dripping in sweat. Not used to hard physical labor these days, and here were two weekends of it imposed by outsiders. It was good for me.

Still, I've always been interested in this ability I seem to have to measure time, space and energy intuitively. Don't know where that comes from, but it's a handy talent to have for a store keeper.

Whenever I work downstairs, I feel overwhelmed. I think I've mentioned that my Dad is a certifiable hoarder, but I've never felt I was one because I keep my living space pretty tidy. My store is packed, but that's because it results in sales. And all the stuff in the basement is stuff that -- if anything -- gains value over time.

Still, there is so much of it, I wonder if there will ever be a time that I can really deal with it, or will it be left to my successor, or the ultimate liquidation sale.

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There's a price to pay in this 'new productivity' that the media is talking about. There were several headlines last week about the Orwellian concept that the companies were doing well, and the employees were doing poorly. But look at me? I'm making more money, but only by working the store by myself. This cannot stand, folks. You can't work your workers to death.

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Maybe I don't understand the term 'contrary investing.' But it seems to me that everyone, every single expert, including Warren Buffet is negative about stock right now. Isn't that the very definition of contrary? I'm all in, and everyone thinks I'm crazy. Isn't that a good thing?

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When the Weeners or Weenies or whatever the fans of Ween call themselves were in town a couple weekends ago, they actually spent money in my store. How do I know they were Weenies? Heavily tattooed and 18ish. Wearing mostly black and overlarge brown shorts. Apparently, my crowd.

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End of summer. Sorry, HBM, but for retail it really is the end of summer. Septembers are better than they used to be, because my clientèle has gotten older, still there is always a steep dropoff. I have to be careful when I start running out of things in late August that I don't order too much, only to have the product arrive into dead time.

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Another article on the New Frugality in the Bulletin this morning. I'm still dubious of this concept. I do believe that financially stressed people cut back on spending. I'm not sure I believe that they will continue to cut back if they aren't stressed any longer. I know that's what they'll say and maybe believe, but not what they'll do.

I was worried at the start of this recession that I was permanently losing comic customers -- I lost about 10 or 15% of my subscriptions very quickly. But over time, I've gained new subscribers -- new blood. I traded customers who were willing to quit, who were -- if you will, somewhat jaded -- for customers who are discovering or rediscovering comics and are excited by them.

There has always been this neat equilibrium -- that I lose regulars, or that I gain customers. Sometimes it doesn't happen at the same time, but eventually the equilibrium is regained.

Which I attribute to the strength of the artform itself, and my own steadiness of staying open day after day in the same place.

2 comments:

blackdog said...

"End of summer. Sorry, HBM, but for retail it really is the end of summer."

Oh, okay, as long as you're talking about summer in the commercial sense rather than the climatological sense.

This is the time of year I like best in Bend because the weather (if we're lucky) will stay pleasant for another two months and the tourons have departed. Of course the departure of the tourons is bad for retailers.

blackdog said...

"This cannot stand, folks. You can't work your workers to death."

Maybe not, but the aim is to come as close to it as possible.

Don't you know that the Republican dream is, and has been for the last 30 years at least, to return us to the Golden (or Gilded, as Mark Twain called it) Age of President William McKinley, when the robber barons reigned supreme, untroubled by pesky government regulations or uppity labor unions?

I will never forget that in the heady days after the "Gingrich Revolution" of 1994 George Will wrote a column asserting that the ultimate agenda of conservatives should be "the repeal of the 20th century." He meant it, literally. The right-wingers want to repeal not only the New Deal but everything accomplished by progressives since 1900.