Tuesday, December 5, 2006

I was up late again, putting up more shelving in the back of my store. Amazing to realize that I probably stayed late at the store about every other night for the first 10 years I was in business, before I decided that, if I can't get a job done during store hours don't even start.

But for renovations, there is no choice but to stay late. I love planning changes, I almost always like the results of changes, but actually doing them is stressful. Fixtures don't quite fit, (usually by a maddening half an inch or so), product falls all over, and every time I reach for the tape-measure, it's missing.

I believe I have now completely, utterly filled every inch of my store. But I'm going to have 69 feet of shelving to put my toys on, which will create a bunch of room in the front of the store. I've got one more night of hard work, and then it will probably take a couple of weeks for product to find their proper niches.

One of the reasons I know that my circumstances are different that most downtown owners, is the amount of set-up time these new owners give themselves. They put paper in their windows, and two or three months later THEY STILL HAVEN'T OPENED. It is unfathomable to me that they have enough money to eat rent like that.

There is a saying in business, that one should expect to not make money for two years.


I have ALWAYS needed to make money, from the day I opened. It was all or nothing. I've always said that anyone who owns a small business who has a viable alternative, will eventually take the alternative. Knowing that it is all of nothing has a way of focusing the effort. If a guy doesn't have money to fall back on, if he knows that working for Walmart is the alternative, then he is going to fight and claw to survive.

I've decided that everyone's business is hard; if it was easy, someone would've come along and sliced the margins a little thinner. Therefore, business is always on the edge, which is an uncomfortable place to be. You have to work harder, stay longer, have better ideas than the other guy. So, after a while, your little dream business is no longer the fun you thought it would be. In fact, it is even more work than the job you left, and for less money!

I actually like that challenge. And I really don't believe I'm suitable to work anywhere else. It is comforting to me that all of us live by the same rules -- and that having tons of funding for your store can be as much a drawback as an asset. In other words, you can't buy your way to success. Eventually you have to get down in the trenches with the rest of us poor shlubs.

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