I may have overreached a bit, this Christmas. I was so close to completely stocking my store, in every category, that I went for it. But I think I may have gotten a little ahead of the actual level of business.
I'm not sorry I did it. The store is extremely satisfying to me, right now. I know what I've accomplished. It will be much easier to maintain the current levels, then it was to build to these levels. There are still small improvements to be made, there are always new products being offered, but there isn't a section in the store that I've had to delay fixing up.
I've done fixed them.
However, I've known from past expansions that it usually takes 6 months before we really start to see the benefits.
Christmas has been slow so far. I don't find myself surprised. I usually try to make a bit of extra profit at Christmas, because I need that money to cover the cash-flow for the much slower, Jan. through June period. My attitude is actually pretty good, considering that sales are nowhere near what I envisioned them.
It just means I'll have to be more careful about my budgeting next year, but that should be much, much easier with the store fully inventoried. I had an image in my mind 23 years ago of the store that I wanted, and if anything, I've surpassed that. The trade-0ff of the satisfaction of a job well done, versus actually making money, is one I'm always struggling with. I always tell myself that I'll try to make money next year, but right now,
I'd like to start carrying.....say....new books. And there goes my profits for another 6 months.
But I prefer having too many options than not having any options. There was a time in the mid to late 90's when every single product line in my store went down in sales, month after month. There wasn't a thing I could do about it. I looked around for product to replace the falling product, and there wasn't anything I could find that fit my store. It was a scary time as sales got closer and closer to my break-even point.
The store I have now is a reaction to the helpless feeling I had at that time. I have one main product line, where I try to have just about everything (comics and graphic novels), and then I have a bunch of products where I have tried to have almost everything. (sports cards, toys, games, anime, manga, used books, new books, art books.)
I used to tell myself that there was never a finishing line, that I would never get all the way to the summit. But, you know what, I feel in some ways that I have indeed reached to top of my capabilities.
I've also reached a physical limit. There simply isn't a sq. ft. in the store that isn't being used. So, from now on, I keep my eyes open for anything new, I refresh every category with new product, be certain to replace the 'evergreen' product, and look for opportunities and bargains. Every category can be incrimentally improved, of course. But I'm very proud of my store right now, and when I walk in every morning, I feel a great satisfaction.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
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