Friday, July 2, 2010

Retail survival list.

Observations for which I get in trouble every time.

1.) Advertising is a waste of money.
2.) Promotions are a waste of time.
3.) Gathering space is a waste of space.
4.) Discounts are stupid.
5.) Street closures hurt business.
6.) Kids don't read comics.
7.) Never listen to experts.
8.) Big businesses are dinosaurs.
9.) Your core for any hobby are Mom and Pops.
10.)Comics are literature.
11.)Comics are art.
12.)Business isn't rocket science, it's math.
13.)Experts usually aren't.
14.)Mom and Pops grow the business...
15.)Big business plunders.
16.)Big box stores are ponzi schemes.
17.)Always pick the bigger town/more competition.
18.)Never pick the smaller town/less competition.
19.)No amount of brilliance will overcome the math.
20.)Superhero movies have zero effect on comic sales.
21.)Old 'collectibles' are a con.
22.)Antiques Roadshow has a lot to answer for.
23.)The internet is our savior.
24.)The internet is our doom.
25.)Stay small -- don't expand beyond your abilities.
26.)Stay in place -- don't move, change services, etc. to save a few bucks.
27.)Mom and Pops earn enough for Mom and Pop, not managers and a crew.
28.)Producers will always drop the Mom and Pop in favor of big business.
29.)Once the Mom and Pop's are dropped, it's only a matter of time before a full collapse...
30.)Magical thinking won't overcome the math.
31.)Wanting it ain't enough.
32.)Product, product, product.
33.)If something isn't selling, raise the price.
34.)If something is selling, stick to your price.
35.)Friends come and go, enemies accumulate.
36.)You can't please everyone.
37.)"The customer is always right," is a promotional gimmick.
38.)Big business will tell you what you want to hear, then do what they want.
39.)Let product be your display, not fancy expensive fixtures...
40.)The more you carry, the more you'll sell.
41.)Don't dump product, keep it, and handsell it to the truly interested.
42.)Everything sells eventually.
43.)It's better to have product customers want, than that they like you.
44.)It's better to have it at the higher price, than NOT have it at the lower price.
45.)Bad parking just means you're busy. ("No one eats there anymore, it's too crowded.)
46.)You'll never stay popular forever. Popularity comes and goes...
47.)No business will tell you how well they are really doing.
48.)If you are slow, you'll find out later everyone else was too.
49.)Inner dynamics are more important than outer. (the economy, competition, etc.)

and finally, though I could probably come up with a 100 more...........

50.)Never listen to experts...including me.


Wes said...

Great insight, Dunc. I would only argue that we should listen to experts (including you), but act on our own interpretation of the best information we can get.

Art and science should inform one another.

Hope all is well. I am actively participating in organizing a run/walk event for the 40th reunion. Who would have guessed?

blackdog said...

I think I disagree with all your generalizations except #50.

Jeff said...

I don't get this one:

"If something isn't selling, raise the price."

Have you actually ever RAISED the price on something that didn't sell. And then it sold?

What is your theory? That a higher price tag signifies greater worth?

Duncan McGeary said...


this takes a bit of explanation, and of course there are times you just want to dump something and take the lower price -- as long as you don't intend to carry it anymore.

But on slower moving product you still want to carry, it makes sense to price it slightly higher so that you keep it in stock but if you sell it you get enough margin to buy it again.

#1. Still Selling

For instance, if I sell a magic box for 100.00, I make about 30.00 profit. If I buy a case of 12, and sell them all, I make a 360.00 profit on a 840.00 investment.

#2. Not selling.

But if I can't sell a case worth, I can instead get, say, four boxes and charge closer to retail; i.e. 36 x 3.99, or roughly 145.00, (even if I have to pay 5.00 more per box), and still make a 240.00 profit on a 300.00 investment.

In other words, I can make 2/3rds the profit on a little more than 1/3rd the cost.

Even if the product sells slower at the higher price, I still at least get a decent return without having to spend more money and use the money I would've spent on something that is selling faster or makes more of a margin. Meanwhile, my cash flow is less impacted and all I'm really doing is saying to the customer -- I'm selling at 'regular' retail.

The temptation is to chase the cheaper customers on down. Where do you stop? How do you beat the guy who is willing to go even cheaper? How do you keep from binding all your cash?

As long as product is turning over quickly, it makes sense to accept a smaller margin and get them in the store and hope they'll buy other stuff. You don't want them to write you off.

But if you get the sense that they are writing you off, for whatever reason -- competition, slowdown in demand, whatever, it's best to just price the stuff at full retail and move on.

The only reason I'm still carrying sports cards is that I raised the prices to my break-even margin, despite competition who was selling it at close to wholesale. I sell a whole lot less than I used to, but I'm making a profit everytime I do...

Because once the demand starts dying off, no matter how low in price you go, people will buy less. Whereas, the few people still buying will eventually buy at full price because in the end you'll be the only guy still selling it.

Something like that.

Pedro Hemes Valdes Ortega said...

Here in Bend let's take the 'classic expert'.

Ray Kuratek, came from California in K-Mart suit. Joined city-hall to be an expeditor of federal dollars ( that's how he sold himself ). Discovered Juniper-Ridge. Sold himself as the sole-proprietor of JR, and wrote in himself a $2.5M golden-parachutes. ( or whatever the number was )

Sure enough the Bend Ponzi (tm) scam busted, and JR was doomed and city-hall wrote Kuratek his check. Now JR is just another worthless piece of desert land that city-hall has subsidize.

What is an 'expert'? Well its a guy from out of town in a k-mart suit. Bend loves Ray Kuratek and all like him. Should we follow the expert? Well given that Bend is ran by an absentee populace who doesn't give a FUCK who run's city-hall, and given that city-hall is sure impressed the 'expert'. .. hmmm

It's rather clear that Bend's 'geni-ass' shop keepers don't give a rat's ass about city-hall or any of their doing's ....

Who should listen to guy's from out of town in K-MART suits?? I sure don't, but obviously many do. They can always be found in trendy bar's leading cougars and gold-diggers by their nose. Certainly they're typically men, but quite like their sisters I have just mentioned.

The obvious thing about experts, is they generally haven't done an honest days work in their lives. I guess we was nation of fuck-heads need to 'believe' that their exists someone smarter than the rest of us that has figured out how to run with cougars and not work.

99% of business is being in the right place at the right time. Enough said, if your the only one selling cabbage patch dolls at the right time in your town you might look like a geni-ass, trouble is those are once in a lifetime trends, and in those times you can be rude to the customer and all the above rule's are irrelevent, but in times such as these, .. when folks are with out work and money is dear, then the 50 rules do apply.