Monday, November 23, 2009

Just what's going on.

Sunday felt like my first real day off in a long time.

I feel a need to get back to my core interests, one of which is reading, and I've been on a bookish jag lately and it feels good.

Liz opened the store yesterday. Don't know how well she did -- probably not too very, what with the snow. I'm hoping that I can earn enough on Sundays to pay for most of the employee wages -- not counting Cost of Goods, which since I'm not probably changing my ordering levels, probably don't matter. (Yes, if I sell an evergreen product on a Sunday, I probably should subtract it from the total -- which is one of the reasons I was willing to drop Sundays....oh, hell, it's complicated.)

Also got my personal room squared away. My family commissioned a painting of my Mom's garden on Roanoke Avenue before she died. My sister Tina has made copies, prints that look like an oil painting, for all the kids, and I put mine up on the wall yesterday. It is very evocative of that 'lost garden' and very nostalgic. I need to get the info about the artist and what the painting represents, and have it taped to the back and pass it along to my kids.

We were going to have Thanksgiving dinner at the Pine Tavern, but Tina's condition has worsened and her daughter Mattie flew home from Chicago, so we'll probably get the turkey somewhere else and have it at her house. Tina's MRI was clear, but she's having difficulty, and they don't really know what's causing it. It's tough to see my strong, vibrant sister laid so low; and I was so angry at myself for not understanding what she was trying to say to me. I felt like I was letting her down. It's hard because I just want to hang out with her, but she gets tired. She seems at peace listening to her friends and family jabber around her.

This month at the store, I've sort of let nature take it's course. Too much else going on. Sales are way down, and it may be my worst month since the beginning of the downturn. I don't think it's because I've taken my eye off the ball -- I'm still fully engaged, and I'm there 5 days a week, so it's not like I'm slacking. I'm thinking that a real recovery hasn't arrived, despite my good September and early October, and I'm now preparing for next year as though it will be at least as bad as this year.

I'll have more to say about that at the end of the month. I got a small windfall from Linda, and so financially I'm pretty solid, but still....I'm kind of disappointed.

I made a huge boardgame order this Christmas, especially of the main three games, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, and Carcassonne, and all the spinoffs. I'm hoping to see a repeat of the demand I saw this summer, and if it doesn't happen I'll be well stocked for next year. As I said, I ordered one case (six boxes) of Magic too much; about 20% too much, which is a quantity that will probably take me though the next year to sell. But I really didn't want to get caught short.

My planning has been a bit different. Because our financial situation has changed, I no longer feel the need to make so much money that I pay for my IRA, my taxes, AND enough money to retire on. Now I NEED to make enough money for my overhead and living, and my taxes, and I WANT to make enough for my IRA, but I'm not as concerned with making more money beyond that. So that gives me the freedom to hire my little employees. The hours are still less than what my previous employee was doing; but it should give me the freedom to get away for a few days at a time, and maybe even a week in the summer.

The relative security changes the dynamic somewhat -- for instance, ordering enough product for longer periods of time, making sure I don't run out. That's a real luxury, but not a foolish luxury as long as it's legitimate product. As long as I don't make speculative purchases, it should help the store in the long run.

I managed, once again, to receive a huge graphic novel order in and find space for it. I seem to have a real talent for consolidation, for finding space I didn't think I had. But, damn, is the store packed.

Just what's going on.


RDC said...

Just make sure that having the cushion does not result in less focus. When you start thinking that a decision is not as critical,it is easy to start making poor decisions. The focus driven by the need for the store to generate returns has enabled you to do well in a time when others ar not. It has forced you to make tough decisions concerning stock and orders.

Duncan McGeary said...

So true.

It's a concern. I'm kind of slowly working my way through it. Trying to find the right level between pure fear and lackadaisical. Between overwork and slacking off. Between being too uptight and losing focus.

Wes said...


Please pass along our love to Tina. I'm sorry we haven't gotten over to say it ourselves. We're having the usual Thanksgiving riot with all the kids except Jenna and her family.

I leave for a three week consulting job in Ethiopia on Saturday. Hope to see you before long.



Duncan McGeary said...

Ethiopia? You're amazing, Wes. How do you do that?

Duncan McGeary said...

In hindsight, the 8 months of this year I worked every day weren't too bad. I paced myself, and making actual profit was a great morale booster.

But as I've gotten older, family obligations have become more important, and it was becoming clear to me that I needed backup.

I can seem like a workaholic, but I'm also able to turn it off and relax.

I'm not in pursuit of riches, just enough to be comfortable and secure. So, I'm trying to figure out how much I need from the store and how much I don't need.

I want the store to continue to be successful for my own pride, and I'm not going to co-mingle funds so I can keep score.

RDC said...

The issue is not so much one of time off, but of the decisions you make. You can take time off and still be focused like you have been.

The problem is if you start thinking that it is ok to be lax in what you order or to accept a lower margin because you now have a cushion. That a couple of percentage points here or there are not critical. That is the kind of loss of focus I am referring too.

Time off is something that should be planned in, just try and keep everything else crisp and focused.