Friday, July 31, 2015

Books are cash flow proof for me.

I have assembled a massive -- for me -- book order.

Every book I've sold over the last ... well, since I last did an order, plus new books, plus filling in on some series.

Thing is -- books sales haven't dropped even though I've been out of Catcher in the Rye and Game of Thrones and To Kill a Mockingbird for some time.

Wow. Is this the way other stores work?  Because that is not the way my store has ever worked.  I've always had to buy the new material on a regular basis or see sales drop through the floor.  Comics and cards were most of my sales for decades, and they were periodicals, entirely dependent on the weekly shipments.  The good thing about this has been that it given me a steady, regular clientele.  The bad thing was that I've always had to buy them whether I could afford them or not.

But in books, toys, and to a lessor extent, games, it doesn't seem to matter as much.  With the important caveat that you have good books (games/toys) in stock.  You can be out of many of the standards and still sell.  Which is kind of cool, you know?

(Admittedly, this probably wouldn't be true if these categories were 80% of my business instead of 40%.)

What it does is allow me to make orders when I can afford them, when the cash flow gives me an opportunity. Instead of having to order whether or not the cash flow can handle them.

Cash flow is having the money on hand to pay for the product.  It took me a very long time to realize that I could be making a nice profit overall and still be short of cash when I needed it. It's easy to fall into the trap of spending to keep big sales up, and then having nothing on hand when sales drop.  Which they do, on a regular but unpredictable basis.

I finally got secure enough to have money in reserve, and smart enough not to use too much credit and to replace the reserve when it is depleted.

Plus, downtown finally became the place it always promised to be -- lots of people walking around, dropping in, buying on impulse.  Very cool.  I'd have to say most of my book and toy sales are impulse sales to strangers, and a high percentage of my game sales.  So all I need is a steady flow of customers, which downtown is providing.

Wasn't always that way -- wasn't that way for a good 20 out of the 35 years I've been doing this.

I give myself credit for recognizing the change in customers, and adapting my store to it.  I give myself even more credit for expanding into games and books just as the Great Recession was starting and sticking to it.  Having 20 years of experience by then was invaluable.

Especially for a dolt like me who seems to only learn not to touch the oven by burning my fingers a few times.

1 comment:

Mr Nighttime said...

Nice post...on a two day streak now. Hope you get to three!