Monday, January 31, 2011

The toilet paper rope.

I recently watched a Mythbusters episode where they were testing jail escape methods.

One of them was making a rope out of toilet paper.

That made me think of my store -- not the toilet paper, but the fact that they could weave together enough strands of the weak material to make a strong rope.

I've never had the luxury of having one product to sell. It didn't take me long to realize that comics alone would only get my about 2/3rd the way to sustainability; maybe only 1/2 way to true profitability.

Fortunately, I had sports cards to turn to back then, which were growing exponentially into a bubble. At one point, sports cards reached 85% of my sales, but something told me to keep trying to do a good job with comics. I not only didn't drop comics, but I grew them during this same period.

Later, I had the idea that a three legged stool was more stable than a single or two legged stool.

I never quite came up with three product lines that stayed equivalent for long. Eventually, it become comics and graphic novels; and everything else: games, toys, cards and books.

Currently, I'm about 50/50 with that proportion.

Ironically, almost every category is declining because of new technology and competition from the mass market. But I already knew that: I brought in new books and boardgames, and toys, knowing that I probably wasn't a primary, or even a secondary, source for most people.

But by being in a busy downtown, with lots of foot traffic and tourists, I've managed to make them viable.

I also never completely gave up on sports cards or card games or manga and anime, even though they have continued to decline.

I figure if I just keep weaving the weak strands together, I can make a strong enough rope to escape.

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