Wednesday, June 5, 2013

May results.

We were down 5% from last year, which was within range of my target.  The goal this year hasn't been to increase gross sales, but to increase profit margins.  More importantly, the goal has been not to fall into debt during the slow months, and we've managed that.

That means that summer profits can be used for things other than just "catching up."

Like for taxes -- or investment.

I'm still satisfied with the mix I have.  I intend to increase the space devoted to boardgames and books, while consolidating space for toys.  Toys are a bit of a problem in that they have fairly low margins and take up more space than most items.  There are spots in the store, though, where toys are appropriate and nothing else is -- the higher up the walls space that won't work effectively for things like books.

So I've rearranged the store to make more room for boardgames and books.

In ten more days I can start ordering for summer -- which means, basically, ordering twice as many books and games as I have been for the slow months.

About the same number of comics and graphic novels, since I keep these up to high levels all year long.

Magic has declined for me, which is perfectly all right.  It was the one category that was requiring large investment up front for uncertain returns, and I kind of don't like that process anymore.

It's too much like gambling. 

In other words, I've slowly morphed my store where most of my spending was speculative; the next wave of sports cards, or the next hot comic, or the next hot magic wave -- to something that is a little more evergreen;  good books and graphic novels, enduring boardgames and other items.

Much less risky business model, if not as exciting...


Duncan McGeary said...

I have to say, we didn't have much choice until the last few years -- graphic novels were the first thing that made this possible, but it took books and games to really turn the focus around.

Duncan McGeary said...

It's taken me roughly ten years to make this transition.

Starting in about 2002, I started bringing in more and more evergreen items, pulling from the cashflow while sales were going up.

In other words, I didn't take extra money out of the store during the boom years but changed the store to a more sustainable model.

Then, with the crash, I decided to continue to invest in boardgames and new books for the next two or three years, though it was much more difficult during the slower sales.

Then, about a year or two ago, I finally filled the store with a mix that seemed to work. About 1/3rd books and games, about 1/2 comics and graphic novels, and the rest -- everything else.

Now it's not so much a matter of what product lines to carry, as to what product to carry within those lines. Getting the best product to sell within the mix, without changing the mix, if you catch the difference.

Duncan McGeary said...

Of course, these things are always fluid -- but evergreen really means evergreen.

So I get a couple in yesterday looking for Clockwork Orange, which I didn't have, dammit, but which is one of the books I always try to carry.

What I'm trying to say is, that won't change. Clockwork Orange is an established book and will be an established book as long as I'm here, I suspect.

So the trick is to get as much of that -- as many To Kill a Mockingbird, or For Whom the Bell Tolls type books as I can manage.

Because they'll always sell.

Duncan McGeary said...

This ought to be easy, really.

Just keep getting good books.

It kills me to go into a new bookstore and find two shelves of S.F., for instance. There are at least a couple hundred S.F. books that will always sell. Same with mysteries and every other genre.

Nope -- same old Book Sense books in every store, same old Oprah books that are piled high at Walmart and Costco. And then bookstores wonder why it's hard to "compete."