Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Rally for Yuppies

I watched the last two hours of the Rally for Sanity/Fear. (Apparently, I didn't miss much the first hour...) I didn't mean to; I was just going to watch five or ten minutes, but it was moderately amusing so I kept watching. More or less an extended Daily Show or Colbert Report, with guest stars, and awkward live bits.

The crowd seemed mild and yuppie-ish.

Also looked really large to me, but I haven't heard any estimates. Fox estimated 7 people, and Stewart, like ten million.

I kept expecting Bruce Springsteen. And for them to say the word, "Vote."

Funny thing is, the rally is almost critique proof; especially by the media. Indeed, most of the criticisms I've read seem kind of churlish.

Really, it was so mild and bland. Eh.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Writers, writers, everywhere.

Twice this week, I've had the creative impulse to continue one of my ongoing fiction stories.

The first time, I got busy and by now I'll be damned if I can remember the scene. Which is the danger of writing, while being busy. And more or less sums up why I haven't seriously pursued my writing career.

The second time was yesterday, and because I had Matt covering the opening hours at the store, I actually sat down and wrote the scene, and revised the scene proceeding it, as well. Very satisfying.

Thing is, I have 2 different novels I've started which have 5 chapters completed, 2 different novels started which have 4 chapters completed. And the promising start of another novel which would be a prequel to my seventh completed novel, which was my favorite but which never got published.

I liked all these beginnings, frankly, and think I'll try to nibble away at continuing them. No concern about where it all may lead...just have fun telling the story.

Suddenly, it seems like I'm surrounded by writers. There's Chris, who made it to last week's writer's group and seemed genuinely excited. There's Matt, who is producing works of fiction almost everyday on his On The Subject of Being Awesome Blog.

Yesterday, had a young guy come in and introduce himself as a S.F. writer. Ken Scholes. Turns out he is doing a signing at Paulina Springs bookstore -- last night in the Redmond store, and tonight at 6:30 at the Sisters store. I hope some of you guys can make it. Chris? Are you out there?

Looked up the author on Amazon, and sure enough there are a plethora of positive reviews. They sound right up my alley, and I'm intending to both order them for the store and to read them.

Here's the e-mail from Amanda at Paulina Springs:

"Hi Duncan,

We are hosting Ken Scholes, author of the Psalms of Isaak series, here at Paulina Springs Books this weekend. He'll be at our Redmond store on Friday, Oct. 29 and our Sisters store on Saturday, Oct. 30, both at 6:30 pm."

I apologize that I didn't get this message up yesterday.

Here's Ken Scholes Wiki entry:

Ken Scholes (born January 13, 1968) is a science fiction and fantasy writer living in St. Helens, Oregon. He refers to himself as "trailer boy", a reference to his childhood home.

His short story Into the Blank Where Life is Hurled won 3rd place in the 4th quarter of the 2005 Writers of the Future contest.

His first novel, Lamentation, was published on February 17, 2009. Based on a previous short story entitled "Of Metal Men and Scarlet Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise", it is the first of five in the Psalms of Isaak saga. Book two, Canticle, was released in October 2009.

Psalms of Isaak

  • Lamentation, Tor Books, February 2009
  • Canticle, Tor Books, October 2009
  • Antiphon, Tor Books, September 2010
  • Requiem, Tor Books, Forthcoming
  • Hymn, Tor Books, Forthcoming

Friday, October 29, 2010

Defying gravity.

Had a guy in last week from out of town who was a golf course bankruptcy expert.

"Which golf course?" I asked.

"Can't tell you," he laughed.

I was talking about our crazy Bend boom, and later on in the conversation, he mentioned a golf course...."What were they thinking?" he said. I don't feel like I can say which golf course, because I weedled the information out of the guy without informing him that I might post the info on a blog. It probably doesn't matter -- I think it could be ANY of the golf courses.

And frankly...I think it was misdirection, anyway. He caught his mistake, unless I was reading the conversation wrong. I'm guessing, most likely, he was in town because of Broken Top, which has already been in the paper as a possibility. But I don't know.

Add that little nugget with the news in today's paper that Jeld-Wen is has unloaded or is trying to unload their destination resort properties, and you got to figure all these guys are hurting.

Add that to all the news about new retail "malls", and the constant churn of stores in downtown Bend, and the death-defying moves of CACB and....well, I don't know what to think.

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that we existing businesses are only now feeling the full brunt of the downturn -- that enough time has passed, and enough of a less than encouraging future stretches out before us -- that reality, gravity, is setting in.

But, apparently, for Bend the froth continues -- though if you look at it a little more closely, what do we really have? A couple of empty complexes -- which used to house businesses that created good paying jobs, in exchange for a bunch of retail. One of the complexes -- if you don't mind me saying -- is less a mall than a flea market.

Making lemonade. One 0f the new retailers in the Brightwood complex actually touted the "industrial" feel of the place. Well, I understand that. Make if funky, baby.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Still around.

Just had a guy in the store who was buying volumes 4 and 5 of Walking Dead, who is reading my books.

Hey, he's into the second book, (Snowcastles) which means he liked the first book (Star Axe) enough to keep going. (Told me he likes the second book better.)

I mentioned that he needed to get Icetowers to get the complete story, and he informed me he already had it.

He bought the book online from London.

Pretty much makes my day. The thought that there might still be people out there picking up my books and reading them.

Last two people who have visited Powells, couldn't find them there. Not surprising, since it's been 30 years more or less, and the cover prices were around 2.00, which most used bookstore don't find sufficient to stock.

Media Geek-asm.

Avert thine eyes, Muggles, for I speak of Nerd Rapture.


I really enjoyed SHERLOCK on Masterpiece Theater. Fast moving, smart, and strangely faithful to the source material.

Plus, I get to see what the new Bilbo looks like. (Martin Freeman plays Watson.)

Pure fun.


I'm looking forward to the Walking Dead on Halloween night. From the tone of the reviews, I think people are ready for a straight-forward, non-ironic, non-symbolic Zombie movie.

My Zombie shelf at my store is getting more and more packed. I expect Zombie backlash....


Speaking of The Hobbit. It's going forward, with Peter Jackson, in New Zealand, two movies (Radagast the Brown!) starting in 2012.

Glory Be! my friends. Glory Be!


Now if they would just do a proper version of Conan, and do Doc E.E. Smith's The Lensmen, and maybe the Chronicles of Amber -- my life would be complete.

Obama on Stewart.

As you know, I like Obama. I think he's done his best. A reasonably good job in trying circumstances. None of which sounds like a rousing endorsement. But he's miles above his opponents, in my opinion.

Anyway, I watched him on Jon Stewart last night, and the thing I came away with was -- he really, really thinks that things have stabilized and that things will get better from here. He admits the politically correct, "Things could be better..." but you can tell he thinks things are getting better already.

So is he in some sort of adviser cocoon ?-- "Things are improving Mr.President!" Or is he just an incorrigible optimist? Or could he actually be right?

I still feel he's our best chance of navigating a course through all the extremism and dire problems we have, but I fear that -- just as not enough has changed in two years for an impatient public, not enough will change in four years....

This isn't just a normal recession -- and I thought going in that it would take many years to dig ourselves out of this, if we took our medicine -- which I still don't think we have.

But I don't see anyone on the horizon who I don't think would make things worse -- possibly much worse.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's just a little snow......

Well, this month hasn't been half bad, you know. Certainly better than last month.

I mentioned a few days ago that it appears I have finally reached a point where I can make regular systematic reorders, at regular systematic amounts.

So I show up yesterday for work, planning to make my new 'regular' once every two week order of new books and new games.

But first, I busy myself straightening and cleaning. None of my employees seem to abide much to the" half-inch rule" -- which is my own strange little creation that says that; if you have a packed store, that every half-inch of material that is off-kilter adds up, until you have an overall impression of chaos.

Or maybe I'm just obsessive-compulsive. At any rate, I usually find plenty to do on Tuesdays.

As I'm straightening up, I begin to notice that I have little or no gaps in the books. If I order more books, where will I put them?

I look at the list of games sold, and realize that I would have to buy filler product just to reach my minimum order level, which I don't much want to do.

So....I decide to hold off, at least for a few days, and see if anything changes. I mean -- I'm apparently stocked, since there doesn't seem to be any real need.

Maybe it just isn't feasible to have regular, systematic times and amounts when you own a small business -- because customers simply aren't systematic and regular.

Midway through this process, a lady comes in and buys one of the tall paperbacks for half price, which is 5.00.

I look around, and the day is half-over and that's my first sale. Hmmmmmmm.....

Another couple hours go by, and I clean the vacuum cleaner and eat lunch and browse the internet, and around 4:30 another woman comes in and buys a tall paperback for 5.00.

So I've made a grand total of 10.00 with the day 3/4ths over.

This is when I literally go and check the OPEN signs, to make sure they're on. I look out on the street, and out of 12 parking spots, 6 on each side of the street, only one spot is filled.

Double hmmmmmmmmm........

It approaches 5:00 and I realize this will be the WORST day in the history of my business, at least while I was working. (I did have a zero day, once, but I've always wondered if my employee forgot to unlock the door or something....) I mean, you'd think people would stumble into my store by complete accident and buy something. Like throwing an empty hook into a stream and snagging a fish. Something.

At exactly 5:00, guy comes up to the counter with a stack of books.

"Oh, you're ruining my worst day ever," I said.

"Sorry," he answers. Then he compounds the problem by signing up for a comic subscription and thus becoming a brand new regular -- the most valuable kind.

I then proceed to have a pretty good hour; not much of a day, but not the worst ever either.

It was a little strange to be rooting for the worst day ever label, but .... what you gonna do? Sometimes when you have a bad day, you just got to go with it.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sunriver Books

There weren't any movies we were excited to see on our usual Monday outing, so Linda and I decided to drive to Sunriver and visit the bookstore there.

We've talked to the owners a couple of times now, and it's very enlightening.

They've recently more or less doubled in space, (lucky stiffs), and have a nice wide room for 'Readings' and 'Signings', of which they have a number of impressive authors lined up. They've curated a great selection of books, and present them in an extremely attractive way.

I can see how all this outreach might work, -- if you're consistent, which would probably get around among authors and provide a steady stream of them; and get around among regulars; and just overall creating a positive impression of your store.

But for me, it's more work, time and space than I could possible do.

Linda realized that we had forgotten our 27th anniversary on the 21st, so we bought each other a couple of nice pens. Linda really likes these -- I call it Pen Envy -- and I like them well enough. There is a very tactile pleasant sensation to holding a good pen. (No Freud here, please.)

So there you have it -- it takes 27 years for the wife to overlook the anniversary for the first time. (Me? comment.)

They're working on renovating the Sunriver mall, especially the ice rink. We went into Hot Lava Bakery and had coffee and muffins, and talked to the owner.

I think everyone out there is excited by the renovations, but also feeling stressed by all the construction.

How many times have I seen towns trying to get that community gathering place put together just right? It's difficult and mysterious and happens -- I believe -- one store owner at a time.

You can't usually just create it by fiat. It's a slow accretion of viable businesses that act with synchronicity and it is just wonderful when it happens -- but it's partly wonderful because it so rarely seems to happen in small towns, anymore (what with the pressures of malls and big boxes and strip malls.)

I watched it happen in downtown Bend, and I think it was a series of happy accidents. (Just about everyone disagrees with me about this, but dammit, I was there.) It's kind of moved away from it's bohemian rebirth, which I find kind of sad, but still has a wonderful vitality that most downtowns would kill for.

Monday, October 25, 2010

With me or without me....

I continue to purchase sports cards, but I admit I don't pay a whole lot of attention to them. As long as I can sell a few hundred dollars worth of cards every month, and as long as I can afford to buy some boxes, I'm already set up to sell them, after all, and boxes and packs are easy to accommodate in the space afforded and I've all but quit doing anything with singles except sell off my back stock at .50 a card -- whatever they're really worth.

Anything old I sell is pure bonus, and as a result I've actually begun to stockpile boxes from the last five to ten years which undoubtedly have some value inside them -- if anyone cares.

Now that I'm actually checking my blog stats, I realized that not only do some sports card people come here, but that I'm actually included on a couple of blog rolls.

Going to these sites, they are packed with info and news about sports cards, and I realize that this is one of those industries that just keeps going -- with me or without me. With my constant attention, or without my constant attention.

In other words, it's a whole world of collecting of which I've been only distantly aware.

I get the occasional nostalgic wave -- despite all the stress, I enjoyed my time in the sports card market, I enjoyed watching the games and talking to the customers.

But I just couldn't seem to make it work anymore.

I found an online magazine that included a history of sports cards -- ( I could write a history that would accentuate an entirely different slant) -- and a couple of sentences really seemed to stand out.

"As the 80's turned into the 90's"...."Many collectors turned investors found themselves selling at net losses and becoming increasingly disillusioned with the hobby. As a result, several small sports card shops liquidated their supplies and closed their doors."

I absolutely love that: "....several small sports card shops liquidated." Which is a little like saying, "The Titanic sprang a small leak." "The economy lost a few jobs in the Great Recession...." "President Lincoln's evening at the theater was cut short...."

It's interesting the contrast the obvious nostalgia of the writer of the article for the card shops of old:

"To a young collector, the local sports card shop was a paradise of wish list items, good sports banter, and the occasional trade with a fellow collector."

Which is followed later in the article by current state of the market:

"As the new millennium hit and the internet was finding its way into more and more households, eBay ushered in a completely new phase of the baseball card hobby. For the first time in its history, individual collectors decided the true market values of sports cards and memorabilia. Prices that were once updated on a monthly basis now ebbed and flowed in real time similar to a stock market ticker. Baseball card collectors had an opportunity to sell dispensable items from their collection to then purchase other items. Trading forums, websites and blogs have done volumes for the industry by connecting collectors from around the globe to a common meeting place to exchange sports cards and sports memorabilia."

I'm not sure that the classic card shop, and the above online world of cards can co-exist all that well.

Finally, the article blames dishonest dealers, over production, and ever increasing prices as problems -- to which I would add, the mass market, the emphasis on gambling, and the state of "heroes" in sports.

Personally, I have always felt the demise of a sports card market (that I could belong in) came about because of the mass market.

The online market was not only the nail in the coffin, but a whole bucketful of nails -- lining the coffin every centimeter. Don't think that corpse is getting out anytime soon.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday sundries.

"Bend's Awbrey Glen Neighbors Speak Up."

"We never would have moved here had we known this," says a resident about the restrictions of the high end development.

Hello? Gated Community?

Hey, so you want exclusivity -- but only THIS much exclusivity.

“Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!”

Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.


I enjoyed watching the Giants/Phillies game yesterday.

Don't laugh, but I was amazed to hear the announcer say that the skinny, long-haired pitcher had won two Cy Young Awards. Or that the tall drink of water in the Phillies outfield had tied the record for most post-season homeruns.

I'd never heard of either of them.

Has it been that long since I paid attention to baseball?


Mountain Goat.

My brother and I were walking the Dry River Canyon a few weeks ago, and on our way out a couple of other hikers asked us if we'd seen the critter.

I'd totally forgotten about it.

I'm glad it's moved to the Newberry Crater area. I was worried about it.

You know what? I think he needs a name. Maybe if he has a name, no one will shoot it. Because there is always some yahoo out there who doesn't get with the program....

Billy? Way too easy.

Gruff? Kind of like it....


Nibbles and noshes?

Like the phrase. Anyway, that's the way I've been eating for years, now. Little bit here, little bit there, never really a full meal.

Makes it hard to explain to family and friends -- especially Foodies --when they ask me about meals and cooking and so on, and I don't have an answer. Of course, I do it because I'm lazy, not for my health.

"Ah....I just sort of eat whatever, whenever...."


Some folks are saying the Ducks won't be #1 in the BCS this week either.

Whatever.... maybe not being #1 is a good thing, at least until the final game of the year. #2, on the other hand, is crucial.

Hey, BCS Computer....stuff it.

Stick it in your ear, baby.

Maybe the Humans know better, eh? Darn machines, taking over the world.

Go Ducks!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Muddling through.

What's the difference between:

1.) Having money and spending it.

2.) Not having money.

3.) Having money but not spending it?

Oh, all the difference in the world, right? I mean, in reality. Silly question.

Then, again. I wonder? On a day to day basis, does it really matter so much? In fact, the more you winnow it down the less it means. Hour to hour, you aren't even thinking about it.

If you don't have money, you don't spend it. So your car goes a little longer without oil changes, you live with two lightbulbs in your lamp instead of three, your shoes get more scuffed.

If you have money, you do the oil change, you have all three lightbulbs, and your shoes are maybe a little less worn. So does that really affect the quality of your life that much? Life is a process of entropy. Everything you buy new gets older, starts to fall apart. It's just a matter of how far along the cycle of decay you are, and, really, most of the time, a car that has lost half its value drives just as well as a car that's lost a quarter its value or three quarters of its value.

Really, on a moment to moment basis, does it make that much difference?

The third option, having money and not spending it, has even less effect. Maybe a little peace of mind, but even there -- hey, now you have something to worry about losing....

O.K. I'm not delusional. I know it makes a difference.

But sometimes, I wonder if it really makes a huge difference UNLESS you have lots and lots of money; or conversely, very, very little money.

For instance, you live in a house that's: a.) mortgaged to the hilt; b.) paid off; c.) a rental.
Hey, you're living in that house, and you're not thinking about whether it's partially paid or fully paid on a moment to moment basis. You're reading, or fixing dinner, or watching T.V. or whatever.

Money probably makes the biggest difference on the extremes. Not having money to pay bills, obviously, is a very big thing. Or having the money to buy anything you want, that would be a pretty big deal.

But for most of us, muddling through life? Our quality of life, our mood, our attitudes -- are going to be affected in subtle ways. Or in ways that you can't point to any one moment in time. Getting preventative health care, for instance, or a well-maintained car -- you don't really notice the problems you don't have, you know.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I have low expectations. Having a big house, a fancy car, doesn't impress me all that much.

Pretty muddled post, I know. I understand that money makes a huge difference in people's lives...but for most of us, in the middle -- assuming you have enough, whatever that is, and that's a huge assumption -- I wonder if it makes as much difference as all that.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Wheels of Justice....

....grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.

The Sawyers will face their day in court.

This is the second time I've seen this kind of slow, but inexorable process. The first time was the Rajneesh and his merry pink band of co-conspirators, who seemed to get away with their shenanigans for a long time.

I'm still hoping we'll see the same thing on Wall Street eventually. Probably a forlorn hope.


First new building downtown in years? Next to the Deschutes Brewery.

Yes....but it replaces a building that was torn down, so not really a net gain. Better than a pile of rubble, though.


Has it finally happened? Has my ordering process finally caught up to my sales level? And vice versa?

It's been almost a full month, and the flow of material seems exactly right. Roughly speaking, I have set amounts to spend on games and books, twice a month. A set amount to spend with Diamond reorders, once a week. And a set amount to spend on everything else, once a month.

So far, I've had no spot shortages -- which are always the bane of my existence. Forcing me to make early orders, which then have to be big enough to meet shipping minimums -- or to face running out of some of my best-selling material.

But at least so far this new ordering systems seems to be avoiding the -- ordering too much this week, then having to lay off for a month, then ordering too little and having to order way more and so on. Whiplash.

Never say forever, but this seems to be working really well, right now.


When the Great Recession started, there was some trepidation that we would see a crime wave, but it never seemed to happen.

Is the wave of weird violence we've seen in the last couple weeks a new trend? Or just one of those things?


If all the furniture stores are going to emblazon SALE!!! 50% to 75% OFF!!! on a daily basis -- then, I'm sorry, 75% off is the regular price.

But they've muddied the waters so much, who the hell knows? Doesn't exactly make me feel secure in my spending decisions....

We're in the market for a futon, and frankly, I think I might feel safer spending my money at Sears, or someplace like that.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Downtown Comings and Goings.

Read in the Source that Lola's had closed. And Diana's Jewell Box seemed to disappear last week.

I've heard of at least three new stores opening soon, but don't know their names.

Kind of a missed marketing opportunity, don't you think? Nothing creates curiosity as much as butcher paper in the windows. Might as well capitalize on that by putting a sign in the window, right?

So the crazy churn downtown continues. Except that I don't know that it's any more churn than is normal, because I have nothing to compare it to. Someday, this little list is going to be a good resource for someone like me.


Dalia and Emilia, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Antiquarian Books, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Giddyup, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/10.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Ave., 8/11/10,
Red Chair Art Gallery, Oregon Ave. 7/13/10.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 7/12/10.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 6/2910
Common Table, Oregon Ave. , 6/29/10.
Looney Bean Coffee, Brooks St. , 6/29/10.
Bourbon Street, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
Feather's Edge, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
The BLVD., Wall St. , 6/13/10.
Volt, Minnesota Ave. 6/1/10.
Tart, Minnesota Ave. , 5/13/10
Olivia Hunter, Wall St. 4/5/10.
Tres Chic, Bond St. 4/5/10
Blue Star Salon, Wall St. 4/1/10.
Lululemon, Bond St. 3/31/10.
Diana's Jewel Box, Minnesota Ave., 3/25/10.
Amalia's, Wall St. (Ciao Mambo space), 3/12/10
River Bend Fine Art, Bond St. (Kebanu space) 2/23/10
Federal Express, Oregon Ave. 2/1/10
***10 Below, Minnesota Ave. 1/10/10
Tew Boots Gallery, Bond St. 1/8/10.
Top Leaf Mate, 12/10/09
Laughing Girls Studio, Minnesota Ave. 12/7/09
Lemon Drop, 5 Minnesota Ave., 11/12/09
The Curiosity Shoppe 11/5/09 25 N.W. Minnesota Ave, Suite #7.
Wabi Sabi 11/4/09
Frugal Boutique 11/4/09
5 Spice 10/22/09
Cowgirls Cash 10/17/09
***Haven Home 10/17/09
Dog Patch 10/17/09
The Good Drop 10/12/09
Lola's 9/23/09
**Volcano Wines 9/15/09
Singing Sparrow Flowers 8/16/09
Northwest Home Interiors 8/5/09
High Desert Frameworks 7/23/09 (*Moved to Oregon Ave. 4/5/10.)
Wall Street Gifts 7/--/09
Ina Louise 7/14/09
Bend Home Hardware (Homestyle Hardware?) 7/1/09
Altera Real Estate 6/9/09
Honey 6/7/09
Azura Studio 6/7/09
Mary Jane's 6/1/09
c.c.McKenzie 6/1/09
Velvet 5/28/09
Bella Moda 3/25/09
High Desert Gallery (Bend) 3/25/09
900 Wall
Great Outdoor Store
Luxe Home Interiors
Powell's Candy
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Game Domain
Subway Sandwiches
Bend Burger Company
Showcase Hats
Pita Pit
Happy Nails
(Fall, 2008 or so).


Ina Louise, Minnesota Ave., 11/3/10.
Laughing Girl Studios, 10/21/10
Dolce Vita, Bond St, 10/21/10
Diana's Jewell Box, Minnesota Ave., 10/15/10.
Lola's, Breezeway, 10/8/10.
Oxygen Tattoo, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Great Outdoor Clothing, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Volcano Vineyards, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
Subway Sandwiches, Bond St. 9/2/10.
Urban Minx, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/10
Old Bend Distillery, Brooks St., 6/19/10.
Staccato, Minnesota Ave. 6/18/10.
Showcase Hats, Minnesota Ave., 6/1/10
Cork, Oregon Ave., 5/27/10.
Wall Street Gifts, 5/26/10
Microsphere, Wall St. , 5/17/10.
Singing Sparrow, Franklin and Bond, 5/15/10
28, Minnesota Ave. and Bond, 5/13/10.
Glass Symphony, Wall St., 3/25/10
Bend Home Hardware, Minnesota Ave, 2/25/10
Ciao Mambo, Wall St. 2/4/10
***Angel Kisses 1/25/10 (Have moved to 'Honey.')
Ivy Rose Manor 8/20/09
***Downtowner 8/18/09 (moving into the Summit location)
Chocolate e Gateaux 8/16/09
Finders Keepers 8/15/09
Colourstone 7/25/09
Periwinkle 6/--/09
***Tangerine 7/21/09 (Got word, they are moving across the street.)
Micheal Cassidy Gallery 6/15/09
St. Claire Coffee 6/15/09
Luxe Home Interiors 6/4/09
Treefort 5/8/09
Blue 5/2/09
***Volcano Tasting Room 4/28/09** Moved to Minnesota Ave.
Habit 4/16/09
Mountain Comfort 4/14/09
Tetherow Property 4/11/09
Blue Moon Marketplace 3/25/09
Plenty 3/25/09
Downtown Doggie 3/25/09
***King of Sole (became Mary Janes)**
Santee Alley
Bistro Corlise
Made in Hawaii
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Kebanu Gallery
Pella Doors and Windows
Olive company
Pink Frog
Little Italy
***Pomegranate (downtown branch)**
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Speedshop Deli
Paper Place
Bluefish Bistro
(Fall, 2008 or so.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Financial gerrymandering.

One thing to remember. Public entities have to report real numbers. They can do a little financial gerrymandering, but not much.

Corporations also must report numbers, though they can do much more gerrymandering, at least in the short run.

Small private businesses don't have to tell you folks nuttin'. (Nor should we.)

But it's something to take into account every time there is a glowing report of a local business opening or expanding or moving. What I'm saying is -- you really don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

Nor do I.

When I look at my own numbers, I combine them with anecdotal evidence, see what the Big Boys are doing (and try to cut through the fog of numbers) and add to that what's reported public revenues are, and I think I'm getting at least a whiff of reality. (Reality stinks...)

Anecdotal evidence -- which is what most of us have with small business -- is also the least reliable. As I've mentioned before, as much as it drives me crazy, a small business has little choice but to be vaguely positive when things are neutral or below, and insanely optimistic when things are going well.

Plus, I'm a great believer in the 80/20 rule, and there is always a one in five chance that you're asking one of the 20% of stores that are doing well even in the worst of times. In fact, chances are pretty good, because they're the ones actually talking about it.

I suppose I could make the case that it doesn't matter how everyone else is doing. It only matter how I'm doing.

But I think it's important to have a reality based view -- a way of checking your performance, both good and bad. And to look for reasons as to why you might be doing better or might be doing worse, than the other guys.

Plus -- I like to check my own analysis and observations against what actually happens -- which gives me more confidence in predicting my own business results.

Personally, I think the local economy has taken another leg down -- despite the ever-opening businesses downtown. It is official -- comic sales were down 12% last quarter, which confirms my own observations -- but I also think I'm seeing less local businesses, and less tourist spending.

So I'm expecting the first 6 months of next year to be tight -- as usual, but maybe a bit more than usual.

If it snows, we're screwed.

Read the article on Bend's budget shortfall with great interest.

A few things seem obvious and have been stated before:

1.) This slowdown isn't over and is probably going to get worse, and at best isn't going to get better anytime soon.

2.) The time to pay for growth is while the growth is happening, not after it's over. If charging more fees had actually slowed the growth -- shrunk the bubble, if you will -- would that have been such a bad thing? One third less growth, paid for one third more solidly? (Ironically, the building trade would STILL like fees lowered -- you know -- to encourage more building. Because -- you know -- we need more houses...)

3.) When you plan for things like Juniper Ridge and BAT, you should allow for the possibility of recessions. As a small business owner, I've been in the position of owning four stores when business fell off, and strategically retreating back to three stores, then two stores, then one store.

Overextending is a classic mistake. Bend took way too long to admit its mistake.

4.) I believe this will be a El Nino winter, which usually results in way more snow than normal. These comments were a little alarming, if you are Murphy's Law proponent:

"The city has already deferred about $12 million in street maintenance..."


"A dollar you don't spend today becomes four dollars you have to spend tomorrow...."

There was no mention of Juniper Ridge, at all. Which, every time I drive by gives off the whiff of decayed aspirations.

There was an offhand mention of BAT: "...the city"...."had to provide services, like transit...."
Well, no. That was a self inflicted wound. We may have to ask ourselves the question: would we rather have mostly empty buses trundling around town -- or a policeman who can show up at our door soon enough to actually help us with a problem?

The article did point out one ameliorating factor that I'd never known about: Bend was unlucky enough to have relatively low property prices when the property taxes were frozen. The explosive growth and price increases haven't brought in the revenues they would have in Beaverton or Medford.

Unintended consequences like these might be a good argument against Initiative Measures that LOCK-IN solutions and don't allow for flexibility or future changes. (Mandatory sentences, for instance.)

Next car you buy, get four wheel drive, because you're going to need it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vole Patrol

Panga deposited another vole on the front steps.

She's all charged up again. Usually we can barely get her out of the house, usually just long enough to poop, and then she's back on the couch. (She takes one end of the couch and I take the other -- as long as I don't move my feet around too much, she won't attack them...)

But every time she has one of these hunter's moments, she'll stay outside for hours. Linda calls it "Vole Patrol."

I've taken to calling her -- the Vole-ciraptor.


Linda and I went to see Red, since it's based on a graphic novel.

Every time John Malkovich was on the screen I was laughing -- kind of embarrassing to be belly laughing when no one else in the theater is, but I couldn't help it. Just his double takes had me rolling in the aisle. Part of me was thinking, 'This really isn't that funny..." and part of me was laughing because I thought it was...

"He's CRAZY!"

"They secretly dosed him with LSD every day for 11 years...."

"Oh......well, he's doing pretty good, then."

Sometime they ought to make a movie with Malkovich, Gary Oldman and Christopher Walken (anyone else)? I'd pay to see that.


After the movie, we went for a drive and ended up outside Terrebonne at a place called Borden Beck Wildlife Refuge.

I'm not sure I knew this place was there. We were just driving down country roads, marveling at some of the mansions on the hills, and the shacks on the flats.

It seems to me-- vague memory-- that there was an old, historic house on that stretch of the river at one time. But maybe I'm thinking of another place.

We followed the trail along the river to the end. A couple of grassy banks, and beautiful rock outcroppings, and lots of critters -- gorgeous day and a soft dry place to lay on the river bank and listen to the burbling and the crickets and the birds.


Been having vivid dreams. Lately of big houses or buildings with lots of secret rooms and corridors....

Linda says it's because I'm opening up to new parts of my consciousness.

Either that or I'm just Being John Malkovich....


"Mental Health Facility Set to Open...."

From reading about all the crazy stuff going on around here, I think we need it....


I enjoy watching Antiques Roadshow, but I also think it's a whole lot of hoooey. A bunch of nonsense.

I'll refrain from calling it a fraudulent enterprise, but in those areas that I have some expertise -- comics and cards -- I think they're Wildly Overpriced.

I wish they'd be put to the test.

"Babe Ruth signed baseball is worth $8,000.00? Great! Prove it by buying it from me for $4,000.00, right now. Hey....what are you hemming and hawing about? Wait....where are you going? Come back here!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Surviving mistakes.

You know, there just isn't much money in comics.

I totally overcompensate by having a huge inventory of graphic novels. I've refined my ordering to a careful art.

But mostly, I've learned to carry a lot of other product.

Sometimes I wonder if -- knowing what I now know -- if I would still buy Pegasus Books. Remembering all the mistakes I made.

I doubt in the current comic world that I would've survived the mistakes I made back then. It's a very different atmosphere, today, and I'm not just talking about the Great Recession. Comics were a relatively inexpensive product back then, and I could afford to make missteps.

Now? Just to get started I'd have to take so many chances that I'd almost be guaranteed to fall down, no matter how much I tried, no matter how smart I was.

To get to where the store is today was a long and winding thirty year road, with lots of hills and valleys and steep turns. I've arrived at a store that works, but only because I survived all the intermediate steps.

First of all, it's less possible today to make a living in comics. Cost of inventory, cost of overhead, and ever dwindling audience make the size of town needed to succeed ever larger. I'm guessing you need (at least) 150K population base now, up from 100K say five years ago, up from 75K ten years ago, 50K fifteen years ago, 30K twenty years ago, and 20K twenty-five years ago.

(It would help to actually have a cross fertilized urban culture, instead of an isolated faux urban culture. It would help to have a real four year university. It would help to an interstate, and a major industry and -- well, just not be so isolated.)

Which more or less parallels exactly what happened in Bend. The percent I need to make it has always been covered more or less by comics to about 65%. I need 35% from something else, and that seems to have always been true. That's just to survive. I find that having comics be 50% of my sales actually means the store makes a bit of profit.

But even that doesn't quite cover it. I can survive today because downtown Bend has revived, because I've got a fully developed store, because I've melded together an array of product lines, and -- because I've become a very experienced and savvy operator.

Just like Linda's store wouldn't be the success it is today without all the previous experiences -- which didn't always pan out -- I doubt Pegasus Books would work today without all the previous successes and failures.

Even then, I doubt if I had to start from scratch today that I could make a comic shop work in Bend -- even with all my experience and canny instincts.

I'm not sure I'd try. Linda's store has been a bigger success, despite being only one fourth as old. Why? Because books are a 25 billion dollar industry, versus a comic industry that is 1/40th the size. Even with all the competition -- even with Amazon and B & N and Borders and Costco and Wallmart and I-pad and Kindle -- there is more of an audience to draw from.

My rather large inventory simply wouldn't be possible to start out with. I couldn't afford it and it probably wouldn't be cost effective. And yet, at the same time, I'm only surviving because I have such a large inventory. I've been able to snatch sales and product in an opportunistic way for years now. I couldn't simply go out and replicate it.

If I had to give a new businessman advice, it would be:

First, to pick an industry that has potential for growth, and pick a city that is large enough. The inclination on the part of many small businesses is to pick a product that is so specialized that the Big Boys aren't doing it, and that doesn't have competition. Well, there is almost always a reason for that.

There is also the temptation to pick a small population area, again because there isn't any competition -- and again, there is almost always a reason for that.

Besides, it actually doesn't preclude competition at all -- in fact, contrary as it may seem, I tend to see more competition with more specialized product and in smaller towns....

I think it is better to start with a very small sliver of a very large potential customer base, than a huge slice of a small potential customer base. In the latter, if you do a good job and get almost all the potential customers you still hit a glass ceiling. Whereas in the former, the better job you do the more market share you'll garner, and the sky's the limit.

Secondly, the margins are always going to be very slim in any small business. If the margin is big enough to enrich you, someone will come along and competitively cut the margin. If the margin is too small, you won't be able to pay your bills. That balance point is always going to be razor thin.

In a world where monopolies are illegal and exclusives are slippery, you will always have competition.

So if you have to live on small margins, you'd better be willing to live modestly. Or start getting a whole lot bigger so that the small margin actually amounts to something.

How much?

I got word that a store in another nearby town is going to start carrying comics.

Now, ordinarily I wouldn't comment on competition, but there were a couple of things about this that I thought interesting.

My second blog entry today will be about all the mistakes I've made over the years, and how I'm not sure I could do the same thing today and still survive. The comic business has become much more expensive.

Anyway, to start. My reaction was mild. I've found that competition usually doesn't have as big an effect as I fear, or the lack of competition as big a benefit as I hope.

Secondly, it's far enough away that it will have even less impact. Really, any store more than 20 miles away is probably not going to encroach on my territory.

Third, we all have to live by the same rules -- margins, overhead, location. Much will depend on how much space and money they're willing to devote.

So I was kind of shrugging it off, my informant told me how much the other store ordered up front.

I kind of just stared at him. "How much?"

The guy repeated the figure, and I sort of just winced, "He might want to scale down his expectations," I muttered.

O.K. A couple of things. I started crunching numbers. In order to get a minimal 50% discount from Marvel and DC, the other store will have to order fairly large numbers --every month.

So, while the other store will need to build inventory, they'd be better off doing it on a monthly basis because they are going to have a hard time selling enough monthly comics to meet the minimums at first-- unless I miss my guess.

So the figure wasn't over-the-top if it was an investment -- that is, beginning stock. But you can't sell stock and still have stock. The other store will still have to overlay a monthly amount of comics that is going to be hard to reach.

But the really interesting part was that that the competitor thought he was going to order this stuff on credit.

"Really?" I asked. "Did they give him credit?"


Here's the thing. I don't think Diamond Comics would give credit to the Queen of England if she got a sudden hankering for Incredible Hulk comics. They probably say, "Try them for a few months, Queenie, and see if you like them...."

Not only will they probably get C.O.D. terms, but they may very well get Cash C.O.D. terms. Diamond doesn't take a whole lot of chances these days.

These days I just sort of step back and watch with some bemusement when I see competitors open. Good luck.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

YEA! Comics are getting cheaper!

Before I go any further and muddy the waters with all the ifs, ands or buts, I first want to let out a big Three Cheers for cheaper comics:

Hurrah! Hurrah!! Hurrah!!!

DC is going back to 2.99 pricing, down from 3.99; and I believe that Marvel will be forced to follow suit through competitive pressures (they announced that "Some" comics, "Some" #1's would go down in price, but weren't very clear.)

Whatever the effects in the short term, and there may be some negative effects on our margins and so on, I do believe this is a great move.

I'm looking forward to telling all my customers that the product they love is actually going DOWN in price.


Meanwhile, though, a little undercurrent -- about how the ground beneath us has slowly been getting slippery.

So comic sales have been tanking nationally without anyone noticing?

Well, of course, we all noticed. There was the usual low level grumbling on the part of the retailers; the normal dire reporting of ever dropping sales.

As someone once pointed out -- comics have been dying since the year they were created.

Now Marvel and especially DC have taken the extraordinary step of LOWERING cover prices. A rare event, to say the least.

For most of my career, comic publishers have been following (albeit at a slower pace) -- the self destructive path I saw in sports cards. As unit sales drop, prices go up, disguising the basic weakness of the hobby.

Eventually, you get to an extraordinarily dunderheaded strategy of charging 10 dollars for a pack of cards, which contain a total of 3 cards. Or a box with a single pack and the single pack has a single card with an autograph and it costs 100.00 or something ridiculous.

What did they think was going to happen?

People have been calling for lower card prices for years, and they'd throw out an occasional cheap brand, but over all, the prices just kept going up. To the point where, in my opinion, sports cards are permanently dysfunctional.

(They'd offer lower prices on a brand or two, but the customers always reacted by calling them "Cheap." Sigh. Sometimes you can't win.)

With the Big Two lowering their prices, the overall comic industry may be taking a step back from the brink.

I totally think it's the right move. Being able to walk out the door with 3 or 4 comics for 10.00 is a much more 'satisfying chunk' than walking out the door with 2 comics and a little change. I think it's a great move that it is the Entire Line of comics, and hopefully Marvel will follow, and since Marvel and DC represent about 75% of the comics sold, it will be more or less an industry wide change for the better.

So why are they doing it?

I think that the situation was worse than anyone was willing to admit.

So while they were reporting that the best-selling comics had dropped below 100k -- a number that once would've gotten a title canceled -- none of us retailers were getting the overall numbers. Marvel and DC on the other hand, have probably seen numbers of two to three months worth of orders that we haven't gotten news of yet, and combined with summer orders, I'm betting it was a troubling trend.

We retailers could always believe that we were making up ground with more titles, or with graphic novels, or whatever.

(In my particular case, the true situation was probably obscured by the fact that I was in the process of bringing new product lines. Well, not obscured -- that's WHY I was bringing in new product lines, after all. But not at the forefront of my attention.)

Which had to be dire, I think. For DC and Marvel to take this step.

After the fact, I can see that while my comic sales have been holding steady -- if prices have been going up a dollar a unit, that might not actually be that terrific a result. Again, it was somewhat obscured by the rather large elephant in the room: The Great Recession. If sales are falling somewhat, who could be surprised?

Sure, on a common sense level, it seemed crazy that Marvel and DC would raise prices so substantially. But I watched my customers carefully, and they weren't dropping titles in a precipitous way; in hindsight, they just weren't willing to pick up many of the newer titles.

In fact, on their own, very few titles were being added to the subscription lists, and I was in a strange position of having to order titles FOR my customers that I thought they MIGHT like and taking the chance of putting it on their shelves without them asking and HOPING they might buy it, which fortunately they did more often than not. But that's a pretty strange way to run a business.

Anyway -- the actual point of this entry is to complain about the basic lack of communication between retailers.

I belong to a bulletin board that has a members some of the most advanced and forward thinking comic retailers in the country. But all I heard out of them over the last couple of years was the above mentioned "low level grumbling." In fact, some of the bigger retailers have a tendency to crow about how "great" they're doing.

There were some exceptions. Brian Hibbs in San Fransisco was sounding a warning a few months ago.

But overall, you'd have thought things were just running along at the usual dysfunctional comic level we're all so used to.

Like I said, I decided a long time ago that much as I appreciate comics, and the solid grounding they give my business, I really needed to diversify as much as possible.

So -- after Marvel and DC have thrown in the towel -- obviously they had access to REAL sales statistics that must have scared them to death -- NOW, my fellow comic retailers aren't so much admitting that comic sales have sucked, as taking that fact as a GIVEN. Oh, yeah. Sales have sucked. This price lowering really needed to be done.

Now, they tell me.

I know that there isn't any way around this disconnect. All of us retailers have learned that you can't tell people if you are doing super well, and you don't dare tell people if you are doing poorly, and so everyone settles for the doing All Right or O.K. or Better Than I Expected, or whatever else non revealing phrase they can come up with.

Including me, though I'm inclined to be a bit more forthcoming than most of my brethren.

Go Ducks!

Go Ducks Part II.

We're #1! We're #1!

Oregon played a perfect defensive game yesterday. They didn't allow a single point; not even a first down; hell, not a single yard. Come to think of it, they didn't let the opposing team in the stadium!

I do believe this will be the first time Oregon has been #1 in my lifetime. I remember when they were thinking of dropping Oregon and Oregon State out of the Pac-10 altogether because they were so uncompetitive.

The only college footballs games I have ever been to were at Autzen Stadium. I'm a Duck, I suppose, technically. Though never much of a rooter. I guess this makes me a fair-weather rooter.

Best scenario would've been to get to #1 one on the last game of the year, but what the hay. Now we've got a big target on our back, especially to the Beavs, who have had a hellacious schedule this year.

(I know, I know...another content free entry -- but no one reads blogs on Sunday anyway.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My regular visits online.

The 25 or so sites I regularly visit?


Huffington Post
USA Today


Rotten Tomatoes


Comic Book Industry Alliance
Game Industry Network
Comics Reporter
The Beat
Diamond Comics
Shelf Awareness


The Source
Bend Economy Bulletin Board


Bend Blogs -- I check out a lot of local blogs through this and;
Pegasus Books Blog Roll.


Naked Capitalism
Big Picture
Calculated Risk

Less often;

Mish's Global
Financial Armageddon
Keypoint Partners.

Of course, there are lots more sites on my "Favorites" which I regularly visit, but these are the big ones.

Channel surfing rut.

I actually have a fairly limited menu of sites I visit everyday. Probably 20 or so. I don't go looking for other sites unless one wanders into my attention span. I tend to stay away from all the you-tube type sites, and stick to informational. I even eliminated sound from my computer because I don't want to be distracted. I don't want to watch video on my computer.

But damn. I can visit the same sites multiple times throughout the day.

You know how when there is an emergency on T.V., and you keep checking for updates, but nothing really changes and nothing new is reported?

Well, visiting the same websites every other hour is about as useless.

Same with T.V., of course. But I've -- mostly -- weaned myself off my channel surfing there. For instance, I don't turn on the T.V. through the day whatsoever. I start watching about 6:00.
I need to learn to do the same thing with the internet.

Meanwhile, the Wii is just driving me nuts, so far. It always seems to malfunction just as I'm ready to use it, and I am NOT patient with machines. If they don't work, I walk away from them. Fuck em.

I'm not being totally fair to Linda, because she's delighted with the infernal machine and wants to show me all her penguin and snow ball fights and all that fun stuff, but doesn't seem to be able to show me how to get on the same program. So I stand there for five minutes trying to figure it out, and then throw up my hands and stomp away muttering.

Rather than being impatient with her, I need to take some free time and figure it out for myself.

But damn, I hate machines. And their damn machine logic. Which isn't Duncan logic.

Anyway, the real point of this entry is to give myself a good talking to, about how much time I'm wasting.

There isn't anyone looking over my shoulders these days. No one telling me what to do and how much and when or any of that. Linda seems happy with me. She and I both give each other permission to do as little or as much as we personally want.

I still have a few parental tapes -- especially my Mom's "Get off the couch and Do Something!"
But really, there is no one who really cares except me.

I think just about ANYTHING would be better than continually surfing the internet and or couch surfing the Big Screen.

Arts and crafts. Reading. Gardening. Driving around. Walking around. Visiting. Playing games. Diving in spiritual realms. Even Napping. Anything.

I'm going to start by trying to create a bit of regime. Denying myself is always easier than making myself do something, so the first step is to create some rule about how often I check the websites.

Maybe once through in the morning; and once through at night. Something like that.

Check my blog a few more times than that, to make sure comments get posted. But nothing further.

Secondly, start dabbling again in fiction writing. Not to sell, not to show anyone else. Just for myself.

Get out of the house, is another thing I need to concentrate on. Doesn't matter what I do, just get out of the house.

I know, pretty pathetic. But...I don't have pressures on me right now, I have more free time than ever, and I'm really not making good use of it.

Starting tomorrow. One go through in the morning, and one go through at night.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This and that.

Seems to me there has been a shift in tone in the news about foreclosures.

It used to be, "Homeowners in default." "Homeowners foreclosed upon."

Now it's, "Banks Seize Homes."


Everyone talks about how the media has a negative slant. But I see the opposite. Articles about how great Bend is for retail, for instance.

Even crowing that the low vacancy rate has kept leasing prices up.

I think there is a lot of smoke and mirrors going on here, but as long as there is always a new business ready to open, prices aren't going to drop to levels that HELP the small businesses.

I'll keep repeating it: retail openings do NOT reflect a strong economy. They aren't even open yet! How can they prove anything, except a desire to open a business?


Or the example of housing sales picking up. Well, maybe. A little. Though it seems to me that building permits were down last month. So what we're getting are glowing reports from the local real estate industry, and if you are still listening to them....

But -- Wow -- the example in the paper today? A 1928 sq. ft. house for 139K? Well, sure. That's, what? 71 cents a foot? Ouch. Hard to cheer that, if you are invested in a home in Bend.


The selling of the Evergreen School in Redmond is like a perfect example of how government officials overestimate the value of their holdings: they end up selling for 250,000 which is only -- let's see -- I think it's slightly lower -- sometime like ----20 TIMES lower than their original asking price!

Remember that every time they talk about the value of Juniper Ridge or any other public

Handsome building, though.


Really, Student Body of C.O.C.C.? Hiring a lawyer and a public relations consultant?

I cringe whenever public monies are spend on "consultants." And -- as a small business owner -- I know that you avoid using a lawyer. If you have to resort to a lawyer it means you've failed miserably. There are usually so many things you can do to compromise or research on your own or even just pass on the notion of doing -- but hiring a lawyer is a money drain of major proportions.

And public relations? Total fail.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wearing a parka in 80 degree weather.

Imagine, if you will, that you have to lay out your wardrobe a full month in advance. Imagine that you pick long johns and a parka for the 1st of the month, but the day arrives and it's 80 degrees outside, but you HAVE to wear it! Or, imagine that you pick shorts, t-shirt and sandals and the day arrives and it's 30 degrees and two feet of snow outside....and you HAVE to wear it!

To me, trying to ascertain sales a full month (or two or three....) in advance is a lot like trying to predict the weather.

Oh, like the weather, you can get general seasonal differences correct, but you are lucky to get any one particular week, day, or hour right.

I know what you're thinking. "What....budgeting again?" I see your eyes glazing over. "Dear god, mister! You do go on about budgeting!"

But sometimes I feel like budgeting is the whole ball game. The difference between success and failure, between making a little money, a lot of money, or no money at all.

It's not the only thing, of course. There are many more elements to a successful business, and indeed, budgeting only really matters if you've already got the rest of it right: The right product, the right location, the right hours and employees and set up and so on....

But budgeting is what I struggle with, day in and day out.

I'm probably kidding myself that I can ever arrive at the ideal budget. It probably changes from month to month; and yet, that's the point. It can't change month to month, or it doesn't work.

It's a bit of a Catch-22.

Sticking to a budget when circumstances are changing can be foolish.

But changing the budget to constantly changing circumstances can be foolish, too.

So far, in this latest downturn, (the last six months or so), I've been oddly lucky in that the 'bad' circumstances have proceeded the 'good' circumstances.

In other words, when I'm trying to arrive at a budget, bad sales have made me prudent, which have then been followed by good sales, which has made back the money.

If it had been the other way around, I would have arrived at a higher budget, followed by bad sales, resulting poor profits.

But the whole point of budgeting, in some ways, is to avoid this yo-yo effect.

If I have the correct ( in-the-middle budget) in both good months and bad months, it should even out.

It's hard -- if you've had a good streak -- to go with a budget that is lower than you think you need.

It's just as hard -- if you've had a bad streak -- to go with a budget that is higher.

That's why it's important to arrive at a budget that has some continuity, and sustainability.
And which averages out over good months and bad months.

Because I'm not always going to be lucky (?) enough to have the bad weeks proceeded the ordering of new product.

I know this is kind of vague -- it has to be, because it's a combination of being both flexible and solid; steady and variable, predictable and surprising.

In the end, I suppose it's more of an art, than a science.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

there's always sumpthin....

and sumone....

Sure enough, as soon as DC announced they were backtracking to 2.99 cents on their comics, there were some complaints about how this was going to cut into retailer's profits.

Possibly. Maybe even probably.

At least in the short run.

The argument that people aren't suddenly going to start buying comics they haven't bought before is probably true. But it doesn't take into account that most new titles will be more attractive at the new price point, and there are always new titles.

It's also true that people will buy good comics at 3.99 and won't buy bad comics at 2.99, but that seems to beg the question.

Hopefully, they'll buy even more good comics at 2.99.

At any rate, my reaction to this will to be to order MORE DC comics, AT LEAST to the dollar amount I'm currently spending, and possibly beyond.

It will allow me to order an extra Green Lantern or two, an extra Batman or two, and an extra few copies on any new series, and so on, and I'm betting that opportunity will be rewarded by sales that will make up the lost margin.

Even if that doesn't happen, I still think it's better to have a viable sustainable price point than a price point that is permanently off putting.

Splendid splinters.

I noticed that Mountain High Coin has changed the second half of their name from "and Collectibles" to "and Jewelry."

I'm betting they had a constant stream of 'collectible' sellers. It's like a Red Flag.


I know it's an obvious observation, but golf courses struggling doesn't surprise me because they were built on two booms -- Tiger Woods and Bend Is Special.

Always plan for a Tiger Woods mistress kind of thing....booms hide the downside, but there is always a downside, because there is always a cycle.

You build for the lowest, or at least the median, of your possible business outcomes -- not the peak boom outcomes.


Linda yesterday bought a Wiii system, which didn't delight me at first.

But she got me up on that platform, and I created an avatar which I think is pretty cutely me, and I set up for the Fitness Program.

I'm totally lost trying to understand their instructions, and my first "Wiii Age" is 78 years old. "Fall over much?" it asks.

The program is a little snarky, you know? I didn't expect that.

Anyway, I retook the test (actually, it was a different one) and I came out at a 38 year old age. Even there, I for some reason halfway through the test I started moving the damn handset around, instead of my body, which is a little strange, but that particular balance test I probably could've kept going and going. (Hey, I was an ace at "Asteroids", and this was just a physical version of that...)

Thing is -- I haven't played video games not because I don't like them. To the contrary, I know I'll like them TOO MUCH! And so I apparently have another Time Suck in my life.

But Linda is loving it, so be it.

This is her conversation just now(lots of enthusiasm): "I was a penguin, and I was a bubble, and I was a snowboarder, and then I did this game of balance where there are little balls which you drop in little holes and the balls have faces, your face and my face, and, Oh I did hula-hoops, too! and....."

Oh, boy.


I don't want to jinx things at the store, but this month is SOOOOOO much better than last month. Last month SOOOOOOOO sucked.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Go Ducks!

Not every blog can be a metaphysically transforming lifes lesson, you know.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Said the spider to the fly....

Some of the comic publishers are coming up with schemes to lure readers into comic stores so they can qualify for online comics, and pay the retailers a small fee.


I think I will skip that part.

The figure I'm currently hearing is about a .20 kickback.

Thanks but no thanks.

I don't see this as working from either side: the customer can skip the entire trip if he's so inclined, and it is an extra step for little return for the retailer.

How long did Tower Records last after MP3's, anyway?

I'm still doubting that my customers are going to move wholesale -- wholesale, eh? -- into digital comics. But I leave open the possibility that I'm wrong, because I've already witnessed the collapse of manga and anime in my own store, as well as the ongoing destruction of the record and video stores.

I'm fortunate in that my career is going to last, I believe, just about long enough that I can spin out the various scenarios and adapt my product lines accordingly.

I'm extremely doubtful of book stores being able to have machines in their stores which can manufacture books on demand. That seems just silly to me -- and extremely non-cost effective. Red Box doesn't need an entire video store surrounding it, after all.

However, I do believe, after all is said and done, that there will be specialty game, toy, card, comic, and book stores. And record stores and even video stores. Just not as many, and 1.) supported by the owners or 2.) little tiny shops or 3.) located in major metro areas where they can scoop up a small percentage of customers.

I'm a firm believer that stores work by having inventory on shelves that customers want.

Everything else -- all the schemes and promotions and bullshit that manufacturers want to load onto the work load of the retailers -- is extra. It won't save a faltering shop, and not doing it won't destroy a viable shop.

But I'm an extreme minority here. Most retailers are convinced they have to do all kinds of extra services -- signings, giveaways, advertising, play space, coffee and crumpets, whatever....or they won't make it.

This whole digital online / brick and mortar retailer partnership that is being foisted upon us appears to me to be complete nonsense. It takes us away from what we do best -- the physical curation and presentation of books (or games or toys or whatever; and puts us into the realm of what we can't do as well -- online sales.

It's playing their game, not ours.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday snippers.

Spectacular sunrise this morning.


Kitty is being a yo-yo. Wants in, wants out, wants in, wants out....

Winter must be coming, her fur has thickened into a fabulously soft glossy coat.


I got nothing. As you can tell.


Honestly, I don't understand why a state House seat would generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money. Really? A state representative has that much influence? Can affect things that much?

What does it pay, by the way. Minimum wage? (Googled it: 1800.00 a month -- slightly above minimum wage.)

So its, What?, not a whole lot less than half a million dollars raised among the three candidates for a state representative job?

Like being a city councilor, it seems like a thankless job.


Contractors hire foreign workers with Stimulus money?

Kind of begs the question, doesn't it. Why hire foreign workers if you can hire Americans if you are going to pay the same?

Do they work harder? Easier to control?

We are so fucked....


Linda gave me a little book, A Manual for Living, by the philosopher Epictetus. "This sounds like what you're always saying," she says.

Reading it, I'm gobsmacked. It IS EXACTLY what I'm always saying, right down the line.

I wish Mom was alive so I could ask her if she had read the book and passed along it's thoughts. She talked about Stoic philosophers a lot, and Epictetus is considered a Stoic philosopher, so I think the chances are pretty good.

It can't be a coincidence -- it's just too much straight down the line the way I think....


Saw a documentary on FACEBOOK on Cnbc last night, with the 'Winklevi' and Eduardo and Zuckerberg and Sean Parker. Uncanny similarity to the characters in The Social Network -- which makes the movie more believable -- if they got that right, maybe they got some of the rest right.

Maybe not.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dear Bank of America....Please go away.

So I get a 'bill' from Bank of America for our Home Equity Line of Credit.

At Zero. 00.00. No balance.

O.K. But why did they send me this? don't suppose they still think we have a RELATIONSHIP do you? Could that explain it?

Dear Bank of America: cut us off when we still supposedly had 20k credit left, a couple of years ago. Hey, Bank of America, YOU broke up with ME. (Never mind, I dated Columbia River Bank, woke up in bed with Countrywide, and got kicked out of bed by Bank of America.)

We no longer share joint custody of the house. The house is all mine (and Linda's, of course.)

I've paid you off. We HAVE no relationship. I don't want to be friends. I don't want to go out with you, or buy you dinner, or take you home.

Please leave my life, forever.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Let the customer decide if there is a problem.

As candid and straightforward as I try to be in this blog, there is one thing I do not do.

I do not point out problems with comics to customers. Or, more to the point, I let them tell me if it's a problem.

I constantly read of other retailers complaining that customers "hate" this or that; while in my store, I hear no such thing.

My guess is that the owners are talking about their own biases; "I hate what they've done to Superman." "Wonderwoman's new costume is ugly." "Oh, ANOTHER cross-over...."

That kind of thing.

And then they complain about their customers having the same feelings.

So, like I said, I prefer to let customers make up their own minds. I mean, I tell them when I think something is really good. I'll be honest if they ask my opinion, but I don't voluntarily subvert a title.

For one thing, tastes vary.

My biggest customer was drawn back into the comic industry by the Clone Sage in Spider-man (Peter Parker was a clone, and not the real Spidey). This series is one of those landmark failures in comics, and yet, here's Rick -- loving it, coming back and reading comics.

So, like I said, I let customers decide.

So when both DC and Marvel comics jumped the price on a lot of their comics from 2.99 to 3.99 a comic, I kept quiet.

Sure, I thought it was nuts to aggressively raise prices in the Great Recession, but I figured my customers would decide for themselves how to handle it. Loudly complaining in my store seemed like suicide.

Well, apparently, both DC and Marvel have decided to retreat from this price point. They are going back to 2.99 on "new" comics, whatever that means. Which I think is kind of amazing. And rare. I suspect the blow back was extreme.

I haven't noticed that comic sales have dropped that much, but then again with 1.00 more per comic, just staying even means I may have lost a hefty percentage of readers and unit numbers.

It remains to be seen how many titles will be affected, or how the consumer will react. But getting 4 comics at 10.80 (with the standard 10% discount) would seem a whole lot more promising for the longterm health of the industry than getting 3 comics at 10.80.

A mess gets messier.

Seems to me that early on in the Great Recession, I read about a couple of judges who were throwing out foreclosure judgments because the banks didn't have proper documentation.

Then that phenomenon seemed to fade away.

So, over the last couple of years, I would constantly read that loan modifications were difficult to achieve, or that short sales were extremely time consuming and difficult to close. But I heard no more about foreclosures being thrown out of court.

Then -- over the last couple weeks -- the foreclosure "Mess"; I used that term in my first entry about this, and it's the same word I've seen over and over again in the national news -- came back with a vengeance.

A Mess is a Mess is a Mess.

So what I'm wondering. Did we not hear of anymore successful foreclosure challenges because the banks got their act together, or because they found ways to cover up their ineptitude better?

Because if -- as I suspect -- it's the latter, we've got even more of a mess. Not only do the courts and government have to figure out who amongst all the packaged mortgages actually owns the papers, or is supposed to own the papers, we may have to go backward a couple of years and UNTANGLE the foreclosures which have already happened.

Which will probably be even more complicated.

It's like what they say about cover ups. It isn't the initial crime that gets you in trouble, its all the laws you break trying to cover it up.


Hack Bend was wondering about the odd circumstance of WineStyles closing at the same time that three new breweries were opening.

Well, to borrow a saying about second marriages -- that they are a "triumph of hope over experience" -- opening a business is about hope.

Staying in business or closing is about experience.

As I keep commenting about the churning of businesses downtown -- opening new business reflects the relatively strength of the reputation of downtown, but does not necessarily reflect actual economic conditions.


I seem to be far enough away from the downtown plaza to notice any problems, so I hesitate to comment. It must be bad enough that the nearby merchants would be willing to experience some bad publicity in order to get it resolved.

I will say this much -- this is one of the reasons that "Malling" the entire downtown would be a horrid idea.

Traffic cleans away the arteries, if you will.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Do you want good? Or do you want GREAT!

I like to encapsulate my business strategy with a single phrase -- a theme, if you will.

I think my theme going forward will be: "Keep the Store Up."

That will put the emphasis on maintaining the very high level of inventory the store is currently at.

Just keep asking myself, "Will this keep the store up?" (Is this extra? Is this really necessary? Is this something new I need to keep the store up? Is this something I can let go of, and still keep the store up?))


Linda and I went to our meeting with our accountant about taxes yesterday, and today I went to see the doctor so I can get my prescriptions.

So got both chores out of the way in just two days, and I don't have to think about them for another year! Don't know why these things are stressful to me. I feel limp, like the starch was taken out of me....


The article on foreclosures in today's Bulletin was parsing the numbers pretty finely. Yes, there might have been a slight drop in the increase of foreclosures in the latter part of this year, but it doesn't seem all that significant.

3,031 so far this year, and 221 in all of 2006.

This town is hurting.


Again, I showed up at work after a relatively slow day to find the register full of 10's, 5's and 1's;
instead of 50's, 20's, and 10's. Another sign to me that the customer is willing but the wallet is weak.

Tourism numbers are interesting in that they are apparently up; but I think most of those dollars are in motels; not necessarily in stores...


We have great books and we have good books and we have mediocre books and we have bad books.

The great books are few and far between, and I generally recommend them away when they show up at all.

So to make sure I have them in stock, I carry them New.

I read so many books, and I have talked to so many people, that I know with a pretty high degree of accuracy what books a customer is likely to like. If they tell me half a dozen authors they like, I can point them to the very best authors and books in that particular part of the genre.

So a woman tells me what kind of mysteries she likes, I know from what she tells me that she would love the Jane Whitefield mysteries by Thomas Perry. I enthusiastically tell her all about them. I put a copy of The Face-Changers in her hands.

"Do you have them used?"

"No," I say, in defeat. "But I have plenty of good books over there."

I go show her all the 'good' used books, and she buys one and leaves.

But she leaves behind the GREAT book, the book she'd have always remembered, the character she would've wanted to find the next in the series and so on.

I mean, you know. She'll probably enjoy the 'good book' just fine.

But she left behind the GREAT BOOK!...............

Pretend and extend, extend and pretend....

A couple of recent articles to which I find myself having unexpected reactions.

The first is by Jim Quinn on The Burning Platform website: "Consumer Deleveraging = Commercial Real Estate Collapse."

This site and author are turning into the "go to" for information about CRE -- which is an important subject, but one which doesn't seem to capture most people's imagination.

Distilled down, he saying that the overbuilt and overinflated property values have dropped so much, that the lenders are never going to get their money back; that there is a planned "Pretend and Extend" program in place, encouraged by the government, and that if the true value was put onto the regional and local banks, most of them would be insolvent.

Oh, and that the worst is yet to come.

Well, I've commented on the way I think American commercial space was built on a ponzi growth scheme.

But I also have the unexpected reaction of: what else can they do? Let it all crash all at once or spin it out and hope for the best? The reason for this reaction is that there has been more than once or twice in my career when I was probably technically insolvent, but I kept paying the minimums, and stretching my bills, and hoping it would work out.

And in the end, it did. And now I'm a going concern, paying taxes, paying employees, paying my bills and myself.

So Pretend and Extend makes sense. Assuming that at least some of the CRE interests can recover...

The other article was about how big corporate companies are hanging onto their cash and/or reinvesting in their own stock, instead of hiring new employees or making capital expenditures.

As you know, I'm no friend of Big Corporations. But again, I had the interesting reaction of thinking, "But, of course. What else would they do?"

Or more to the point, how is that so different from what a small business would do? Hang onto the cash, cut employee hours, don't buy anything fancy.

I guess I believe that Muddling Through is the normal course of events.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thanks for the compliment, now buy something!

I know some of you appreciate me telling you when I have a particularly wonkish entry, so this one is mostly about business.

So how is it that I've managed to create the store I like, and yet have it perform so lacklusterly sometimes? How can I have a store that so many people find intriguing enough to compliment me, and yet have so few of the same people buying from me?

I think it's because we're off the beaten track, out of the mainstream. The same thing that intrigues everyone and so interests me, is the same thing that most people aren't interested enough to buy.

Because if it was product that was in the mainstream, they could find it at the mass market outlets. (Comics sell to a very small percentage of the population -- but that's why I'm the only guy selling them.)

The reason I sell the "out of the mainstream" material, is because it's the only material that is left in the marketplace that I can realistically sell. It's what the market has given me.

If it was just price, I think I could compete. I could get within shouting distance of the mass market prices, and make up for it with service, selection, convenience and knowledge. But pricing isn't it.

It's a much bigger fabric of intertwining advantages that the manufacturers have given to the mass market. Most people don't even seem aware of this. They think it's all about volume discounting and more efficiency and the bigger size. They think that independents haven't been able to compete, and thus don't deserve to survive.

But it isn't a level playing field. Not even close.

I repeat, it isn't about the price.

The only way I know to explain this, is to use a couple of products as examples.

People come into my store all the time looking for Marvel toys. You'd think Spider-man and Hulk and Daredevil and Wolverine toys would be a natural fit, right? I carry Marvel comics, and I carry toys.

So here's the problem. One, admittedly, is price. I'm paying about the same price that the mass market sells the same toy. But, as I said, I could compete if that's all it was. I'd accept a smaller margin and be within acceptable range. Say, sell a toy a chain store has for 5.99 for 7.99. A couple dollars difference.

But....I know from experience that I'm likely to get that case of toys two to three months AFTER it's already shown up in the mainstream marketplace.

Secondly, every case of toys has twelve figures. I have no choice as to what figures I get, or what quantities. There may be 6 figures available, overall, but I may get 1 each of 3 of them, 3 each of 3 of them of them, and none of two of them. At random. (In the last case of Lord of the Rings toys, I got 6 Gollum toys, which no one wanted at the time.)

Now if I'm a mass market store, if I get 10 cases those numbers might even out. Me? I can afford one case, maybe two.

But actually, for the mass market it doesn't matter how uneven the distribution. Because at the end of the selling period, they are either given a credit for unsold toys, which they can then blow out for a further profit, or they send them back.

So....assuming I've accepted the smaller profit margin, I need to sell about 9 or 10 out of the 12 figures in every case just to break even.

As I said, the toys come in randomly and vary from series to series, but a good rule of thumb is that out of every case, 3 toys are sure sellers, 3 toys are probable sellers, 3 toys are possible sellers, and 3 toys are real dogs which will take years to sell if they ever do.

As I said above, it doesn't matter to the chain stores -- they put all the toys out for the same price, so Spider-man costs the same as the Taskmaster toy.

What ends up happening, of course, is the Spider-man and Hulk and Daredevil toys sell instantly, and the rest become what is known in the trade as "Shelf-Huggers."

The mass marketers just apply the credit for the unsold toys to the next wave of toys, which they get in three months before me, and I'm still sitting on the last batch of shelf-huggers.

I have figured out only one way to fight this -- charge more for the better figures. So now, the price differential is 5.99 versus 14.99, or something. And even that only brings me to a break-even situation. And makes us look bad.

The only toy line I carry that I'm willing to do this with, are Star Wars toys. I get a case of 12 toys in, and there is one Yoda in there, or a Boba Fett. I put it on the wall for 19.99. Six months later, the toy can't be found anywhere, and someone may actually buy the toy from me.

And yet, I probably still have three or four toys left out of that case, and even selling Bobba Fett and Yoda for 19.99, I probaby have only broken even. So I look bad, breaking even. I do it for Star Wars, because love Star Wars and because people accept that five years after the toy came out, it might cost more.

Even if I am successful at selling all the toys, it's still less than half the margin I get on most of my product, and I'm probably better off using the cash, space, time and energy selling other stuff.

I'm not even talking about the shipping, credit terms, and other advantages the mass market has.

But even all the above would be something I think I could compete with, at least some of the time, except for one thing -- Exclusives.

Exclusives come in two flavors. One is, a unique item only offered to that outlet. And secondly, unique packaging only offered to that outlet.

Packaging is important. If I have a box that looks exactly like a box in a chain store but which costs 5 times more money, which do you think Grandma is going to buy? She's not going to look to see that there is only 20% of the packs.

Or that I have to pay 5 times as much, for the privilege of carrying a the minimum amount.

The best example of exclusivity I have is an old one, back when Fleer was first selling basketball cards. They had packs that you could buy at the mass market that had "exclusive" Rookie Sensations. For the hobby, we had the "exclusive" Foreign Stars.

So you could buy from a grocery store, a Rookie Sensation Kobe Bryant, or you could buy from me, a Foreign Star Detlef Schremf. You can imagine how that worked out.

A really good example of both advantageous packaging and exclusivity is when Marvel -- probably my biggest supplier of material -- created Marvel Masterworks in two editions.

These were the original Spider-man, Hulk, Daredevil, etc. silver age comics everyone remembers. The comic store version was hardcover and 49.99. The softcover version was 14.99 -- and available only through Barnes and Noble. Nice.

This kind of thing isn't 'competition' unless you think bringing a knife to a gunfight is competition.

Packaging and exclusives are almost always in the favor of the chain stores. Even if they weren't, their sheer volume ends up making those the items people are looking to complete.

Not coincidentally, both of the above examples are products that generally don't have a printed Suggested Retail Price -- which means the mass market can price less and I can price more -- and it's acceptable either way.

Much harder -- if not impossible -- to carry anything above the SRP. Books and comics have suggested SRP, and that's what I sell them for. People may understand they can buy them cheaper from Costco, but they aren't usually outraged that you're selling them for regular price.

You just don't sell them much.

So that's the direction I've been moving into. Carrying mainstream product as regular price and hoping I can make enough to make it work. Because of my location, I've needed to move as close to the mainstream interests as I can get, and that has been books and boardgames.

At the same time, keeping the specialty product than no one else carries.

I think this is going to be the model for specialty stores in the future -- independents are going to need to compete both at the mainstream level, and at the same time look for niches that they can exploit.

It's a very fine line between popular and uncompetitive, and obscure and uninterested.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stats? Doh!

Employee Matt has a blog, On The Subject of Being Awesome, which I think he started after working here. I think he set a goal of writing every day -- heh -- mostly fiction.

Anyway, he wanted to show me something on the Stats button on Blogger. He wanted to show how many foreign hits he was getting. And wanted to know if my blog was getting them too.

"Stats?" I asked. "What's that?"

Sure enough, there's a stats button that must have been added relatively recently. Anyway, I'd decided a couple of years ago that I didn't really want to know how many people were reading my blog, and I told him that.

"Oh, it won't show you that if you're just looking for sources...."

"O.K." I said, curious. So I hit the stats button. DOH! DOUBLE DOH! Right away I see the stats I'm trying to avoid; Matt quickly changes the page, but it's too late. Now I'm curious, so I start exploring....

I've decided that, overall, my hit rate is a little pathetic for a four year old blog, which has been written on everyday. But then again, for a local blog with local readers, it isn't so bad. I figure about half the hits are people seeking out the blog, and about half are by accident.

What it did, was make me curious about the beginnings of the blog, so I went back-- I've been saying this blog is 3 years old, but really it's nearly 4 years old. At first, I had very few comments. But I also got a bit of notice by the local press, early on. When blogging was "new."

(What was amazing is how consistent the themes and subjects have been, especially about the store.

It's kind of amusing to see how many times I say, "I finally have the store the way I want it and I won't need to make so many changes," because that's the same thing I'm currently thinking and saying.

To put that in perspective, for most of my career, I never had as much inventory as I wanted. Still, the more things change the more they stay the same.)

Back to the stats. Trouble is, once I start checking them, it becomes addicting.

In an ideal world, content would be everything -- but the amount of spam I get, tells me different. I suppose monetizing this site would be throwing in the last towel. There is an interactive element to blogging that I've not ignored, exactly, but maybe I've put on the back burner.

I do love the comments.

I've decided to add labels consistently, now that I'm checking the numbers again, to see if that has any effect.

I've been interested in the 'writing' part of a blog -- and I write about what I know -- downtown Bend and my small business. I don't include pictures, but blogs do lend themselves to the visuals, and I'm not totally opposed to them, either.

That's the thing about blogs that I realized early on: Blogs can be ANYTHING you WANT them to be.

How liberating!

Monday, October 4, 2010

What a mess.

I sort of gave my son the advice to walk away from his house, a couple of years ago, even though it's probably not what I would do in the same circumstance.

Indeed, when I owed the credit cards a fortune, I fought through to pay back though it didn't make much sense at the time.

Toby was too proud, and too stubborn to take my advice, and is currently in negotiations to 'short sell' his house.

Anyway, with all the recent news about foreclosures being in dispute, it might be a good argument for hanging in there. Because the guys trying to take over your house may be bogus.

These SOB's may not have the goods. They may not be able to Prove Their Legal ownership.

If enough people challenge these bastards in court -- "Prove to me that I'm actually supposed to pay you," maybe they'll will start being a bit more accommodating about adjusting the loans.

What a mess. And more proof that we Americans aren't so damn efficient after all. (As if we needed more proof after New Orleans and Iraq -- not to mention the potholed roads and broken down bridges....)

Mark Zuckerberg can cringe all the way to the bank

Watched "The Social Network" last night.

Strangely, my reaction was to actually get interested in Facebook for the first time. I still doubt I'll join, but I have to wonder if a lot of people -- perhaps older folk -- will make the leap.

The movie actually shows almost nothing about the actual ins and outs of the site.

And my reaction was to actually feel sorry for the guy --

Poor little billionaire.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Downtown Comings and Goings

I've been a little sluggish about listing these. It isn't always as clear cut as it seems. For instance, if a store is rumored to be 'going' and it has a FOR LEASE sign in the window, what am I to think when the sign disappears but the store is still there? Did the space lease to someone else and the store is leaving soon? Or did the store make an accommodation with the landlord?

I've heard strong rumors of stores leaving, but a strong rumor is still a rumor, and people can change their minds.

SO I've been more inclined to wait for confirmation, and lately it seems as though some of these stores actually open before I list them!

Giddyup has opened across the street from us where Volcano Vineyards was. (The grapes must always be greener somewhere else for Volcano). Saw the owner opening this morning, welcomed her to downtown, and found out she has a store in Prineville. A clothing store.

The Antiquarian is back, where Oxygen Tattoo was, don't know where they went.

Great Outdoor Clothing apparently left without me noticing before.

A place called Dalia and Emilia is moving into the Microsphere space. "Purveyors of Fine Goods."
Well, aren't we all.

A new art gallery is going into the space of Finders Keepers, but no name yet. A word of advice --it doesn't hurt to spark anticipation to put the name of your store up in the window....


Dalia and Emilia, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Antiquarian Books, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Giddyup, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/10.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Ave., 8/11/10,
Red Chair Art Gallery, Oregon Ave. 7/13/10.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 7/12/10.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 6/2910
Common Table, Oregon Ave. , 6/29/10.
Looney Bean Coffee, Brooks St. , 6/29/10.
Bourbon Street, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
Feather's Edge, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
The BLVD., Wall St. , 6/13/10.
Volt, Minnesota Ave. 6/1/10.
Tart, Minnesota Ave. , 5/13/10
Olivia Hunter, Wall St. 4/5/10.
Tres Chic, Bond St. 4/5/10
Blue Star Salon, Wall St. 4/1/10.
Lululemon, Bond St. 3/31/10.
Diana's Jewel Box, Minnesota Ave., 3/25/10.
Amalia's, Wall St. (Ciao Mambo space), 3/12/10
River Bend Fine Art, Bond St. (Kebanu space) 2/23/10
Federal Express, Oregon Ave. 2/1/10
***10 Below, Minnesota Ave. 1/10/10
Tew Boots Gallery, Bond St. 1/8/10.
Top Leaf Mate, 12/10/09
Laughing Girls Studio, Minnesota Ave. 12/7/09
Lemon Drop, 5 Minnesota Ave., 11/12/09
The Curiosity Shoppe 11/5/09 25 N.W. Minnesota Ave, Suite #7.
Wabi Sabi 11/4/09
Frugal Boutique 11/4/09
5 Spice 10/22/09
Cowgirls Cash 10/17/09
***Haven Home 10/17/09
Dog Patch 10/17/09
The Good Drop 10/12/09
Lola's 9/23/09
**Volcano Wines 9/15/09
Singing Sparrow Flowers 8/16/09
Northwest Home Interiors 8/5/09
High Desert Frameworks 7/23/09 (*Moved to Oregon Ave. 4/5/10.)
Wall Street Gifts 7/--/09
Ina Louise 7/14/09
Bend Home Hardware (Homestyle Hardware?) 7/1/09
Altera Real Estate 6/9/09
Honey 6/7/09
Azura Studio 6/7/09
Mary Jane's 6/1/09
c.c.McKenzie 6/1/09
Velvet 5/28/09
Bella Moda 3/25/09
High Desert Gallery (Bend) 3/25/09
900 Wall
Great Outdoor Store
Luxe Home Interiors
Powell's Candy
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Game Domain
Subway Sandwiches
Bend Burger Company
Showcase Hats
Pita Pit
Happy Nails


Lola's, Breezeway, 10/8/10.
Oxygen Tattoo, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Great Outdoor Clothing, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Volcano Vineyards, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
Subway Sandwiches, Bond St. 9/2/10.
Urban Minx, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/10
Old Bend Distillery, Brooks St., 6/19/10.
Staccato, Minnesota Ave. 6/18/10.
Showcase Hats, Minnesota Ave., 6/1/10
Cork, Oregon Ave., 5/27/10.
Wall Street Gifts, 5/26/10
Microsphere, Wall St. , 5/17/10.
Singing Sparrow, Franklin and Bond, 5/15/10
28, Minnesota Ave. and Bond, 5/13/10.
Glass Symphony, Wall St., 3/25/10
Bend Home Hardware, Minnesota Ave, 2/25/10
Ciao Mambo, Wall St. 2/4/10
***Angel Kisses 1/25/10 (Have moved to 'Honey.')
Ivy Rose Manor 8/20/09
***Downtowner 8/18/09 (moving into the Summit location)
Chocolate e Gateaux 8/16/09
Finders Keepers 8/15/09
Colourstone 7/25/09
Periwinkle 6/--/09
***Tangerine 7/21/09 (Got word, they are moving across the street.)
Micheal Cassidy Gallery 6/15/09
St. Claire Coffee 6/15/09
Luxe Home Interiors 6/4/09
Treefort 5/8/09
Blue 5/2/09
***Volcano Tasting Room 4/28/09** Moved to Minnesota Ave.
Habit 4/16/09
Mountain Comfort 4/14/09
Tetherow Property 4/11/09
Blue Moon Marketplace 3/25/09
Plenty 3/25/09
Downtown Doggie 3/25/09
***King of Sole (became Mary Janes)**
Santee Alley
Bistro Corlise
Made in Hawaii
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Kebanu Gallery
Pella Doors and Windows
Olive company
Pink Frog
Little Italy
***Pomegranate (downtown branch)**
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Speedshop Deli
Paper Place
Bluefish Bistro