Friday, April 30, 2010

Free Comic Book Day

This has gotten to be a grand tradition; a no lose for the customers.

They create some pretty good comics for this day, and it's a great time to give comics a try, especially for the kids. Toy Story, Iron Man, Superman, Archies, etc. etc.

Come on in!

We let people pick 4 titles each, which seems to be a good number.

See you on Saturday.

House Hunters

Low and behold, House Hunters had a program on Bend, Oregon last night. It's probably been shown before, maybe many times, because by the population sign (75k) and the prices of the houses (700 - 800k) it appears to have been filmed at the height of the boom, somewhere around 2006?

Got to admit, it made Bend look very attractive.

The couple settled on a house in Northwest Crossing, which has to have dropped in half in value....


Tending my own garden.

One good thing about vacations.

They make you appreciate home more. The routines, the small comforts.

I really have very little vacation stamina. Trips wear me out pretty quickly. I don't have to tell me how pathetic that is....I'm well aware. It has always been thus, though I wasn't fully aware when I was younger. Made it hard to perform on long trips; skiing, debating, whatever...

And yet, I love traveling at the same time. I love seeing new things. I like getting off the beaten track.

I'm glad to be home, sitting quietly in the morning, communing with the internet, looking out over my (new) lawn and sipping coffee. Bliss.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Who's the Real conservative?

Small business owners are supposed to be conservative. Against government interference, and all that. Against taxes that support social welfare programs. Against regulations.

I don't know that necessarily follows. Certainly, I want efficiency and effective governance; but that doesn't mean I'm against all social programs -- I just want them efficient and effective, you know? I believe that regulations are often necessary, and haven't found most of them to be onerous, just sometimes inconvenient....

But I don't believe the government should interfere with the creation of new business, or in spending too much effort to help people move here.

When it come to my own business, I really would rather be left alone. Let me do my thing, and you go ahead and do your thing. I don't want your hindrance OR your help.

Here's where I part from most of my brethren. I think the level of business we have is the level of business we deserve.

I'm truly laissez faire when it comes to business.

The comic book group is convinced we don't have enough comic stores; the games stores are convinced we don't have enough game stores; and so on. Whereas, I tend to believe they overestimate the demand, and underestimate the resourcefulness of the business community. That is -- I firmly believe -- if there is sufficient demand, someone will open a store to meet that demand. The problem usually is the opposite; someone opens when there isn't sufficient demand and fails.

The marketplace takes care of itself.

I'm talking small business here. Big business has turned into a giant, carnivorous, ravening beast who is eating it's young and needs to be reined in.

Let's put it this way -- I've behaved myself, acting as a responsible and honest seller of goods. These guys? These f%#%cking guys? Yeah, they need to be regulated because they've proven to be anything but responsible and honest.

But back to local interests.

The local business groups are asking the city government to help out. There's a good article over at the Source by Bruce in the Wandering Eye column. These being the same groups who will scream bloody murder if they are asked to help in return....(with, shudder, scream....taxes....).

I say artificial measures aren't helpful, they may be downright harmful. Back in the day, both the local city and county governments have stepped in with loans to help local businesses -- and to my knowledge, almost all of them ended badly.

If a business doesn't have enough reason to move here or open here, or enough resources to do it on their own, then I think it's dangerous to entice them or prop them up.

Who's the true conservative here?

I remember the amounts the county loaned to a couple of local businesses -- both of which failed-- was an amount that as many smaller loans probably would have helped dozens of local existing businesses get a firmer hold, hire new employees, and expand -- or at the least survive.

But having once stared down a stack of Small Business loan papers, I doubt even then I would have taken them up on it. Let me run my business. Don't go helping weak sisters who only turn around and siphon away dollars that might be better used by existing businesses.

There is just an inherent contradiction here; the article in today's paper about a local business owner running for city council has a couple of interesting quotes.

First: "Bend can be a difficult climate for small business, Ramsay said, particularly for newcomers who moved here from larger cities. Nice cars and a handful of sophisitcated resaurants give newcomers an impression of a much wealtheir town, he said, and many new businesses started by newcomers failed."

"....I think it's just a misunderstanding people have of our economic base here in Bend, which is a very conservative economic base. People hold their money very close to their wallets."

Well said. And as anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows, is pretty much what I've been saying for years.

But then he goes and outlines a program of 'pro-growth' which seems to be encouraging the very thing he just said is a problem. At least, that's the way I read it.

I'll repeat: If a business doesn't have enough reason to move here or open here, or enough resources to do it on their own, then I think it's dangerous to entice them or prop them up.

I have no doubt that the city and county will continue to throw money down the rathold of growth, instead of letting natural growth take place. And I'll just keep running my letting business without any outside help, thank you very much.

Apparently, I'm a liberal with true conservative values...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Paybacks a poop...

....or is it, Poopback's a bitch?

Bulletin's article about the business called The Bomb Squad, whose owner decided to give back a customer's unpaid Shar-Peis poop.

"I didn't really even think about it much. I just decided to give her back her poop."

What's wrong with that, I ask?


Something tells me the Sawyers have absolutely no ability to detect irony.

"No trip to Cabo for Sawyers," includes this line. "'s very difficult in any country to find a good contractor..."

Yeah, finding honest reliable people can be hard, can't it?


Nova had a great program on money and emotion last night.

I'm not being egotistical to say, I knew everything they were saying. Sports cards were a crucible for me; I didn't know it at the time, but I had experienced a classic economic bubble. I wasn't immune to it -- I doubt anyone is, until they've been exposed.

By the time the comic bubble came around, I was reaching some conclusions, but unfortunately, not quickly enough. I got caught a second time. I started researching and reading up on bubbles around then, and experimented with the magic and non-sport card bubbles, and probably still messed up a bit.

By the time pogs and beanie babies and Pokemon came around, I had a handle on it.

Anyway, I was aware of all the experiments that were shown on the Nova program -- especially the one where a group of players bid against each other to win prizes, with the knowledge that at the end of the game value would be zero.

I entered into pogs and beanie babies and Pokemon with that in mind -- I played the game until I saw the mania was peaking, and then quit.

I still remember the number of customers who questioned my sanity. "Why are you not getting more stuff?!!"

"I think this whole thing is just about over," I'd say. "If I were you, I'd be careful."

"No....I'll be doing this forever! I love POGS! (or beanie babies or Pokemon.) (Don't laugh, they really meant it.)

Most people get caught once by a bubble -- then, if anything, they probably overreact from them on.

The housing bubble was too big for me to 'play' and too dangerous. But I saw it clearly, and tried to prepare my store for the day when it would end.

The one thing left to say about this bubble from past experience, is that we are still in the stage where people are trying to 'happy talk' the market back up. To say, "It's all over...." "Things are recovering..." as if saying it enough times will make it so. As if the fundamentals can be ignored through positive vibes and ambition.

We're still mired, in my opinion.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My guess about Cascade....

My guess about CACB stock?

Someone -- probably a major investor who can't extricate himself without losing most of the value of his stock -- figures that delisting from the stock exchange would be the end.

Someone -- probably a major investor who can't extricate himself without losing most of the value of his stock -- is trying to prop up the stock price above 1.00 for ten straight days.

It'll be interesting to watch the next seven days....

Verbal snapshots.

The comic industry is discussing moving 'new' comics day to Tuesday -- and mind boggingly, there is some resistance. I can't for the life of me figure out how any retailer could be against moving up one day. It's like these guys live in some alien universe....


There was a lot of trash on the side of Highway 97 from Chemult to Bend. Never used to see that.

Lots of traffic, too.

Suppose they're connected?


The motel we stayed in Crescent City is right on the beach. As in, walk out the door ten feet, drop down over a pile of rocks and onto the sand, close. As in, one good tsunami would wipe it out, close.

In exchange, there is no air conditioning, no micro wave, no refrigerator, and it's a bit pricey.

I still think it's worth it...


We went down to the coast because we needed to transfer title to some property to a niece of Linda's and Lois's.

An acre on Cummin's Road (Linda's maiden name...) of old growth redwood trees. How cool is that? A dense tangle of coastal vegetation.

If anyone wanted to built on it, they'd have to cut down a few trees.

"Maybe we could sell a few of the trees to pay for the development," I said to Linda.

We told the lady who were were doing legal business that, and she just shrugged. "Lots of redwood in Del Norte County," she said, with dry voice. The neighbor also thought it was a crazy question. "Had a tree fall on my property, and I couldn't give it away...of course, it was a cedar...."

I'd do some research, if we were likely to do anything. But we aren't. It's Norma's property, in any case.

But I still like the idea that we have an acre of redwoods in the family....


So we got the red-tape runaround trying to transfer the property. Finally found a notary public who took pity on us, and took 45 minutes out of her day to write up four legal documents we needed and explained the process.

Even if she wasn't impressed by our being redwood timber barons....


Crescent City looked a bit better than the last time we were down there. Some of the vacant, torn down lots had been built on.

Still, not a terribly prosperous looking town. It looked like half the people were living on the government dole.

Brookings, on the other hand, had huge mansions up on the hillside. "Tom Hanks lives in one of them," one of the store clerks told us.

Really, Brookings is about as far as you can get from a major city....


Once again, I was struck by the charnal aspects of beaches. Came across a beautiful looking black bird in the sand that was obviously dying, surrounded by sea gulls.

Vultures of the sea.

It pained me to see it. Came back later in the afternoon and it was dead, and being pecked out by gulls.

I found four complete sand dollars. Four!

I know, my life is unbearably exciting. But I rarely find unbroken sand dollars....

Straighten up, dude.


I'm going to get a little bit on my high horse here; so you can try to knock me off, if you'd like.

It's maddening how most used bookstores look. Poorly laid out, messy, disorganized, limited, dirty, ....did I say messy?

I could 'fix' some of these store in -- oh, I don't know -- an hour? Two hours?

Really, it ain't hard. Just straighten up.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Need Vacation Practice....

Just spent four days in Crescent City, CA. Kind of a last minute thing.

Went with 3 coats, but no shorts or sandals. (Of course, it was just about the most beautiful weather I've seen down there -- including summer.)

Forgot my camera.

Didn't make a reservation at our favorite motel, which was booked solid Friday night; got it Sat. and Sun.

Most importantly, forgot our laptop!

3 and a half days without an internet connection! Fortunately, I had two blog entries lined up, so this entry late Monday means I still haven't missed a day of blogging.

But I need a couple more practice vacations to get into the swing of things.

Anything happen? You know, locally? Hoping our friend kept the newspapers this time....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ups and downs.

I'm sure there is a program out there that measures and quantifies volatility in sales. And probably some theories to make sense of it.

But I don't really need them to see what's happening.

We keep seeing days that are a third, or half, or even a quarter of the target average -- which are interspersed with the occasional day that is double or even triple the average. Right now, we are Right At the target average, overall.

What does it mean?

I may be kidding myself, but I think it means that my store has the material and the longevity to be pulling in folks on an irregular basis who then buy lots of stuff.

Whereas, the average local and or tourist customer is either visiting less often or spending less.

At least, that's my guess.

I'd much prefer a strong steady average, but I guess as long as we keep hitting our targets, we're O.K.

Summer is coming.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Comics are literature AND art.

Pretty much from the from the beginnings of buying Pegasus Books, I've been using my own family as a touchstone as to how to reach the general public with comics.

My Mom wouldn't let me read Classics Illustrated when I was kid. Fundamentally, she just had no real respect for comics -- they were for illiterates and stupid kids.

My siblings still have similar feelings toward them. Nothing I could say or do, no amount of Sandman graphic novels in the Christmas stockings, would change their minds. Normally, I try to convince them of the literacy of the stories -- the intelligent content, the wild creativity of the stories, the play between words and pictures.


They're having none of it.

This morning it occurred to me, that the one thing that might have really caught my Mom's attention -- and by extension, my siblings, and by further extension the general public, may not be the writing and story at all.

It's the art, stupid.

My Mom was an art major. I think I might --just might-- if I could get her to even glance at a few pages--caught her attention with the art, which after all, can be fabulous.

Probably not. But I probably would've had a better chance with the art, then trying to convince her how clever the writing was.

So maybe I should be trying to catch them with the art --- and then tell them all about the storytelling. Even though, for me, the writing is so much more important. Or, perhaps I should say, equally important. Because a great comic has the two elements working in tandem.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bank Levitation.

I've been noticing for a couple of days now that Cascade Bancorp, has been shooting up in price. As of this morning, it's at 1.18 a share, nearly double it's lowest price a few weeks ago. Did they sell out to another bank? Did they raise the financing they wanted?

The Bulletin has this: "There was no company news Thursday."

So if it turns out there was a development, but it wasn't publicly announced, wouldn't that be the epitome of 'inside' knowledge? Just asking.


The City Council has earmarked a 535,716 boost to the raining day fund.

How nice. How prudent.


The money will be spent, when it's spent, no matter where they park it.

Just saying.


Interesting picture in the Bulletin of President Obama giving his financial address on T.V. to a room of brokers, most of who....are paying absolutely no attention.

Just how it looks.

Goes along with the other headline in the financial section, I suppose: "SEC staffers viewed porn as markets collapsed."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring work.

I was going to work on my orders this afternoon at home, but the roofers are here. Noisy little buggers...

The lawn is in and looking green. Funny, the backyard actually looks smaller now. The new privacy tree is about 25' tall, a nicely shaped maple. In my neck of the woods, most the plants have just lately started budding.

Looking forward to some real gardening this year.

Was not happy with the plants I bought from a 'mass market' store last year -- too many of them didn't survive. (They were planted carefully -- pretty sure it's the plants...My Mother's plants always survived.) So I'll buy from a nursery this year.

There is lots of cool stuff at the nurseries -- lots of kitschy stuff too. But I can see how it would be easy to blow a whole lot of money on nifty things. But I think a garden should be elegantly simple, too. Mostly plants. Linda likes the idea of gazebos and water fountains and statues and all that stuff, but I'm afraid of cluttering the look.

Still undecided about what kind of tree or shrubs we will plant in front of the front stairs. We have our own names for them; "Monkey tree" or "Dr. Suess Plants". We drove around, and it was interesting to see the shrubbery in sub-divisions, which seem to reflect the prevalent 'fad' plants of when they were built.

I'm trying to make my front yard mostly maintenance free -- shrubs and lawns and trees.

The backyard will be my gardening spot.

Our 60 to 90 day growing season is almost here!!!

Don't blink.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where did all the crazies go....?

Where did all the crazies go? You know, besides me? The bubble-blogger, end-is-nigh guys?

Talking to a friend who said, "I think the economic crisis is outlasting the people who warned of the crisis." I know that 'Tim' was in the other day saying that he was splitting town -- that he got a job offer in Eugene that was just too good to pass up.

I think resources are dwindling; and the bad thing about a storm is it falls on the just and the unjust alike.


I haven't even gone to visit the Twitter site in about 2 weeks. I gave it a full year of checking every day and ultimately, I've just not found it useful or interesting. I'm still drawn to Craig's List rants and raves occasionally, though it always makes me unsettled. The real crazies.....


It's been almost exactly six months since Linda and my economic situation changed.

I read it takes about that long to come to resolutions, and it seems to be true -- at a minimum.

Ultimately, not as much has changed as I would've thought. We were able to clear away some overhanging debt; to fix the house up a little (lawn, roof, leaky bathroom); and to establish a retirement fund that looks realistic.

It also means that if the stores have a bad six months or so, we won't be out on the street.

It's one of those situations where you realize that the pressure was good in the way it makes you disciplined -- but you'd be crazy not to take the pressure off.

So I keep trying to remind myself to take a deep breath and relax. Enjoy life. Spend a little money, take a little time off. But don't go crazy. To be thankful but not take it for granted.


Falling even further behind on my "Book a Week" goal. I decided I was really hankering for a good old fashioned space opera; so I picked up an author I haven't read before, (Kevin J. Anderson) who has a seven books series, (Saga of the Seven Suns), and slogged my way through the first 600 page tome.

I enjoyed it enough to finish it, at a very slow pace, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough to read six more books....

Started reading a quick Aaron Elkins mystery, Little Tiny Teeth, which I should polish off in a few days.

Reminds me of when I was a kid and the schools or libraries would have contests to see how many books you could read over the summer so you read all these short little books a year or two below your reading level to stack up the numbers....

I don't want to do that.

I just want to pick up the pace a bit. I read more or less a page a minute, so a six hundred page book should take me about 10 hours and if I spend at least an hour every night, 10 days, and....

Do I really want to think of it in those terms?

No. If I decide to pick up a non-fiction 800 page tome, then that's what I should do. Point is, to keep reading because me life feels fuller, somehow, when I'm actively reading....and, as you may have noticed, when I'm actively writing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How much is the Iron Man head in the window?

Guy was asking about the brass Iron Man head, "But then I'd wonder where the rest of my suit was..."

"No," I said. "You just wear a bathrobe. Any mask looks good with a bathrobe. Just looks like you're off duty..."

I used to wear a purple "smoking jacket" with my big dragon head at Halloween, with a pipe.


Linda and I went for a drive, and I could feel my beard blowing in the wind. You know your beard is long when you can feel it blowing in the wind.

I find myself stroking the beard at stoplights and such.

The beard's looking biblical, I tell you.


The combined sales on Thurs, Fri., and Sat last week were more than the combined sales of 13 of the previous 14 days.

Needless to say, it brought my average up.

Still, I would prefer to have a solid middle average than these wild up and down swings, even if the average comes out the same. Too much chance that I'll get 11 out of the 13 bad days, and only 1 of the 3 good days, you know?

We now have a realistic chance continuing our year to year increases into the 8th month.


Went to see Kick-Ass yesterday, and it was nowhere near as violent as I expected. But then, after that final episode of Spartacus ("Kill Them All") maybe my tolerance is pretty deep.

I enjoyed it. It was slightly different from the graphic novel, but like most of the good adaptations of the graphic novels, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Road to Perdition, History of Violence,300, etc. the changes are mostly for the better.

It's two different mediums, after all.

Looking forward to the Scott Pilgrim movie, too. Finally read the first graphic novel and thought it a hoot, though definitely from a different generation's viewpoint.

Again, how can graphic novels be read so little, and so many movies be made from them?

I've sold, what, 10 Scott Pilgrims in the last few years?

There will be thousands of local residents who will see the movie. Ditto Kick-Ass.

A bit frustrating, though I've come to realize that isn't likely to change no matter how many movies are made from graphic novels....

Monday, April 19, 2010

Speak Truth to Power.

The time is ripe for a true third party in this country.

I don't mean the tea-baggers.

No, I mean a common sense party.

There is a fascinating turn of events in England. The third party, the Liberal Democrats, (well, that name wouldn't work, would it? Or would it?) has taken the lead in the polls.

Why? Because their leader, Nick Clegg, got up in a national debate and spoke common sense.

We in the U.S.A. would be SO ready for that.

4% of prices changes are up, Quick buy a house!

Bratton has called a new bottom in the housing market? (Bulletin, 4/18/10).

Come on. Really? Do these guys in the real estate industry have any credibility left?

Why would we listen to that? Once again, all we have to do is go to the Bend Economy Bulletin Board and see what prices are actually doing:

Out of the last 110 prices changes, going back to April 13, 106 are down, and 4 are up. This ain't a guess, or an opinion, these are actual price changes, up or down.

Wow. You wouldn't want to miss that-there bottom. (Just like you wouldn't have wanted to miss the bottom last year --- or the year before --- or probably next year at this time.)

Though I have to admit, 4% is a much higher level of price increases than I've seen in a long time...

Meanwhile, there were all of 38 housing permits issued in the tri-counties; which is about as low as I can remember it ever being, especially in the spring.

Never mind the record breaking quarter for foreclosures.

I just found out that two of my neighbor's houses, which I thought had sold, were instead rentals.
You got to wonder how many rentals are floating around waiting to go back on the market....

So one 'expert' thinks that housing median prices are lower because the tax credit is only really noticeable on the lower end of the price range, and not helping sell the higher range houses at all:

"Nobody's bought anything in the upper end, so in the whole market the price fell, only because of all the activity in the lower range...."

I had to read this a couple of times to try to understand his reasoning. But if I got it right, it's like, you know, I always wanted to get rid of the smartest kid in class because he was really ruining the grade curve...Wouldn't have made the class any smarter, but we would've LOOKED smarter!!

Or....the opposite, get rid of the dumbest kid in the class, and the smarter kid looks smarter. Something like that.

Uh,, not having a tax credit will help sell more upper end houses? Well, hard to see that. So what you're saying is, not having tax credit will help make lower priced houses sell worse? So the median goes up?

Well, yeah, I guess if I have a store full of jewelry, and I only sell one high end ring and none of the lower end sell at all, my average sale price would be pretty high. Hey, I got it. I'll just get rid of everything lower priced! That's the ticket! Then I'll have wonderful median prices!!!!

I suppose trying to figure out this kind of reasoning is useless. Because it simply doesn't want to deal with reality, but a selected perception of reality....

Finally, because Bratton should never be allowed to live it down, this is what he said in Feb., 2008:

“You’ve got 60 days to make that great buy, and then they’re onto us, and Bend is going to lead the nation out of this housing recession we’re in,” Bratton said to cheers and applause in the Riverhouse Convention Center. “Why not? It’s gonna start here, OK? So I say make the move — don’t miss the boat.”

Tongue in cheek or not, it was an ill advised thing to say and revealed volumes about the real estate state of mind. Yesterday's Bulletin article was full of smoke and mirror statements by real estate professionals, but nothing from anyone approaching an objective third party observer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friendly Airlines, 1950.

Friendly Airlines (cars, furniture, books, etc. etc. etc....................................)

"Hi, come fly with us! We have the most experienced pilots and the best safety record in the industry.

"Free gourmet meals on every flight."

"We hand check your luggage for your convenience."

"We fly into every major airport, and you will never be bumped, our aisles are spacious and roomy."

'We love serving you, and appreciate your business!"

Saver Airlines, 2010.

"We're 25% cheaper than the other guy...."

Thanks alot, for nothing.

Once upon a time, there was a peaceful, prosperous little tribe that was being attacked from both it's smaller and bigger neighbors.

The leaders of the tribe appealed to the powers that be to be given the weapons to defend themselves, but they were ignored.

Meanwhile, their neighbors got bigger and badder guns.

Eventually, the powers that be decided to visit the once peaceful, prosperous little tribe, and found a clearing of burned huts and dead bodies.

"We've decided you're right," said the P-T-B, over the sound of buzzing flies. "We are going to give you an air pistol."

Panini, which owns the basketball card license and does football cards, and is one of only two major card companies left in America (Topps is the other.) (I don't count Upper Deck, since they have lost F.B., BSK., and B.B. licenses) has offered us an air pistol.

Now, normally, I'd throw out the old bromide, "Better late than never." And, well, I suppose that's true. Except it's going to take a very, very long time, if ever, for the village to repopulate. That is, if they want to trust in the powers that be.

I'm going the CAPITALIZE some of the comments in the following press release, to highlight the ironies.

But first, let me say a couple of things:

1.) I've been saying this needed to be done for 20 years now.

2.) They once again have left out the problem of the mass market, which was already killing the card market long before the internet became a factor. (My favorite example is when Fleer was putting "Rookie Sensations" in the mass market cards, and "Foreign Players" in the hobby shop cards -- so you literally had a choice of buying Kobe Bryant or Detlef Shrempf. It was like handing WalMart a bozooka and us a pea shooter.)

Without addressing this problem, the solution won't work.

Interestingly, there is a story in today's Bulletin about record stores, that has the following passage:

"'Record Store Days' is also a story of corporate captitalism's perks and perils, documenting the rise and fall of mega-chain retailers such as Tower and their major label partners, whose neglect of independent stores cut off a major artery of word-of-mouth fan support.""

If you don't mind, I'm going to repeat that, in a shout: "...WHOSE NEGLECT OF INDEPENDENT STORES CUT OFF A MAJOR ARTERY OF WORD-OF-MOUTH FAN SUPPORT."

And it could be said that the same thing has happened or is happening in just about every other industry I'm involved in: Comics, Books, Games, Cards, Toys, etc. etc. etc.

3.) These solutions are obvious. But what's even more important, they are the RIGHT THING TO DO! It makes the playing field fair! It shouldn't take 20 years to do the ethical thing, and only then because you realize this new industry you bought into ( An Italian sticker company, Panini bought the Donruss and Playoff brands) is on it's last legs.

4.) Mass market sales of sports cards dropped 35% last year. 35% IN ONE YEAR!

Sorry, I keep shouting, but damn, how stupid are these corporate suits?

Simply put, you can't kill your base of support and expect the business to grow -- internet or no internet, Walmart or no Walmart. They still need the likes of us little guys, who actually read, listen or play the product, who enjoy talking to the customers, who provide a gathering spot.

And if you are going to support us, REALLY support us, don't just throw us a bone every couple of years, always too little too late!

Without further ado, Panini's Wake Up Moment:

From The Cardboard Connection:

Panini’s Plan Might Just Save the Sports Card Industry

On Monday, Panini headlined the first day of the Sports Collectibles Industry Summit and promised to help heal the industries relationship with America's hobby shops.

Panini America executives stunned more than 100 hobby retailers at The Industry Summit by announcing sweeping, comprehensive changes to the company’s distribution network.

THESE ARE THINGS WE'VE WANTED TO DO FOR 10 YEARS,” Panini VP Mike Anderson told a room that included more than 100 hobby shop owners. “We are no longer turning a blind eye to the problem that has been killing margins for hobby stores.”

Panini outlined it's plans that addressed the most pressing concern of the hobby shop: Online sellers’ negative impact on brick-and-mortar profit margins and key buyer relationships.

Panini's plan was enthusiastically embraced by Retailers who have largely been ignored by the card companies OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS. Among Panini's pledges to a wildly enthusiastic retailer audience at the summit:

  • Re-authorizing all brick-and-mortar hobby shops. Only authorized stores and potentially a handful of authorized show retailers will be able to purchase and sell Panini product directly.
  • A dramatically reduced Wholesale Distribution network. Anderson noted that, currently, as many as 50 entities operate as quasi-wholesalers, through online services such as DealernetB2B, eBay, individual websites or through a sub-distribution sales force. Going forward, Panini will appoint and promote a very select number of Authorized Distributors –perhaps as few as four nationally, Alsup said.
  • A no-tolerance policy for distributors who sell to non-authorized retailers. Said Alsup: “If people do not abide by the policy, we’re done with them. No warnings.’’
  • A no-tolerance policy for retailers who attempt to wholesale product, rather than selling directly to collectors. “Again, no warnings,’’ Alsup said. “They will be black-listed.’’
  • A clear distinction between wholesale and retail businesses. “You are one, or you are the other,” Anderson said. “And never the twain shall meet.”

The Panini executives credited CEO Mark Warsop for the company’s unprecedented COMMITMENT TO INTEGRITY in distribution – and admitted that, prior to Panini’s purchase of the former Donruss/Playoff LP business in early 2009, the company made distribution choices that were NOT IN IT'S OR THE INDUSTRY'S BEST LONG-TERM INTEREST. Included: Selling significant volume of new issues and closeouts to online retailers, and allowing certain wholesale distributors to develop and operate online retail businesses.

“We turned a blind eye toward those things, because, honestly, we had to. Our ownership needed the money, and WE PERPETUATED THE INDUSTRY'S PROBLEM," Anderson said. “But under Panini ownership, we work for a CEO who is allowing us to do what should’ve been done 10 years ago. We are well structured, well financed and committed to doing what is best for the brick-and-mortar stores who are the lifeblood of this hobby.”

An enthusiastic Industry Summit crowd of 114 brick-and-mortar store operators applauded repeatedly during the Panini presentation. Jeff DeGraw, an Illinois-based retailer, said Panini’s presentation addressed his concerns so thoroughly “it was like they were listening in on our Retailer welcome meeting last night. This was clearly our No. 1 issue, and they’re taking a stand in support of us. I can’t tell you how glad I am to be here, at the Summit, to see this announced.’’ Said Mike Fruitman, a Colorado-based retailer: “I have just two words: ‘Thank you.’ “

Among some of the other initiatives Panini discussed with retailers:

  • The company continues to destroy any returned NBA trading card product to protect collectibility.
  • The company is willing to implement a MAP (minimum advertised price) program, but believes its authorized distributor and retailer qualifications may address the new-release pricing issue without a formal MAP initiative.
  • Anderson and Alsupsaid more details regarding the distribution initiative will be announced this summer, including the formation of a brick-and-mortar standards committee.
  • Panini is initiating an upgrade of its hobby ordering systems and schedules.
  • The NBA Adrenalyn XL trading card game launch has been an unquestioned success, thanks to strong marketing support including a mobile tour. The company plans to extend the Adrenalyn brand to football and hockey as part of its investment in re-developing a youth collecting segment.
  • The company will launch a new product tentatively called “The Vault,” which will feature compelling autographs and memorabilia swatches from sports, history and pop culture. Alsup indicated the initial release may be available as early as December 2010.

“Salvation is not going to come in the form of some new whiz-bang,wow, big-hit product,” Anderson said. “It’s just good honest blocking and tackling, and that’s what we’re doing here.”

If Panini is able to do what they say they can, this news may very well save an industry that has been PLAGUED BY BAD BUSINESS PRACTICES FOR DECADES. As someone who has worked at a Hobby Store, I can honestly say that the card store is the countries least protected small business. The HOBBY IS ONLY AS STRONG AS THE HOBBY STORE and it's refreshing to see a card company that truly cares about the health of the industries most treasured asset.

Panini might just be the CONSCIENCE the card industry has lacked for decades, in the process they might save the industry from itself. One things certain, Panini sees what's hurting the industry and appears to truley care about fixing it.

"Hey, I think that body twitched. Give him the air gun, quick!"

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Looking at roofs.

Turns out, nobody really looks at roofs.

At least I don't.

Turns out it's one of those fade into the background things -- literally. You'd have to have a hideously ugly or an outstandingly gorgeous roof for people to notice.

Our shake roof is in it's 23 year; they are supposed to last 20 to 25 years. I posted a blog a couple of years ago about ravens pulling up the staples on the crown of our house; we looked out our window and saw these weird shadows and squawks and they were having a great time of it. The roofer laughed when we told him that, and said he'd never heard of such a thing.

"Oh, sure," I said. "You have those ravens trained, don't you?"

Anyway, there are a couple of patches that were looking pretty iffy and I've been thankful for the mild winters these last few years.

It is time.

Linda and I aren't thrilled by our house color (tan) but it appears to be a recent paint job, and still looks solid. We put in new stairs and a couple of decks with the gray trex, which limits our color palate a bit.

We drove around looking at roofs.

Wow. Lots of roofs really don't match the houses very well, but I don't think it's something you notice unless you're looking. Most others just sort of blend in.

The one color that I noticed looked sharp on almost every house was a dark charcoal gray. This would be a safe color to pick.

We also noticed that variegated colors looked a bit classier than solid colors on most house. Of course, we found out that these cost more money. (Hey, why is that? Because they know there is a demand, or because it costs more to make?)

We decided on a variegated color that incorporates both the tan and the gray colors of the house. It's going to limit our house colors in the future, but the gray decking had already done that.

Makes one nervous, not knowing how it will really look once it's on. You can look at pictures, but you never know.

The pricing is interesting. You can get a nice roof, a 30 year mid-range quality roof, for about 4/5th the price of a 50 year, extended warranty higher quality and richer color roof.

When you start averaging out the cost over the life of the roof, you're talking a couple bucks a month.

My first inclination; my knee jerk reaction, is to always go cheap. I usually override that enough to move into the middle range of quality; lately I've been pushing myself to get the higher quality, since I think we can afford it.

We'll be living with this roof for a long time; same thing with the landscaping; same thing with the house furnishings. May as well do it right in the first place.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Keeping the faith.

Despite a truly horrible ten day stretch in this month, I'm keeping the faith. In fact, I'm sort of doubling down.

We are close enough to summer for me to go ahead an bulk up my books and games.

Games, especially, I've really upped the ante. I turned my doorway table over to games yesterday. (Now that the weather is good enough to start putting a used books table onto the sidewalk, again.) I stacked Settlers of Catan, Munchken, Ticket to Ride, and Carcassonne on top and under the table, so that its the first thing customer see when they walk in the door.

Which opened up enough space for more board games on the shelves.

I have a row of very impressive 90.00 to 100.00 boardgames (Twilight Imperium, Warcraft, Rune Wars, etc.)

It's nice to have the resources to stock the store the way I think it should be stocked, even when I have an occasional stretch that really isn't supporting it. I'm saying, I think, that this is good stuff, and it WILL sell, and by god I'm going to get enough of it for you to notice, folks!

I sometimes think willpower is a big part of being a small business owner. If you're going to let yourself retreat whenever things don't go your way, the retreat will turn into a route. You have to know when, in the face of fire, you need to attack instead.

Of course, I have summer coming which will forgive a certain margin of error. There are two times of year when you can take on a bit more risk -- just before summer and just before Christmas.

I'm making yet another game order in a few days, which will totally fill out that section. I'm determined to never run out of the main games.

Next step: Books.

Kick Ass.

Too bad many Bendites will only see Ebert's damning review of Kick-Ass.

It's getting great reviews overall. And among the nerd core of Rotten Tomatoes, it's getting a 90% rating. So Ebert thought it overly violent; but hey, fair warning, it's an R-rated movie. Think Tarantino...with a nine-year old girl.

I'm still trying to figure out my feelings for this over the top stuff-- much like my reaction to Spartacus, part of me winces, part of me quails, part of me chuckles. And part of me say, "Hell, yeah. Kick Ass!"

Moral failings, I suppose.

Or....I prefer to think that I'm able to separate fiction from real life.

Now who's being unpatriotic?

I had kind of strange reaction this week when Sarah Palin accused President Obama of being "Unamerican."

A visceral reaction of "How dare she call my President that?"

What a harpy that woman has turned into! But it was more basic than that. It wasn't even about Obama. It was the office, and the lack of respect that the tea baggers are showing.

Holy moly.

What's next?

My country, love it or leave it?

My country, right or wrong?

Never mind that the poor guy inherited a horrible situation from 8 years of mismanagement.
It's the idea that these people consider themselves to be the 'patriots' at the same time that they can wish that the President of THEIR U.S. fails.

I'm sure that most people in the U.S.A. don't feel that way. That most people are quietly supporting him.

A Silent Majority, if you will.

NO, Wait! What did I just say?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Do Resorts Boost Economy?"

Three tourist oriented blogs in a row.

The Bulletin has an article entitled, "Do Resorts Boost Economy?"

"A Deschutes County Commissioner is pushing for a study of the economic costs and benefits of destination resorts, in response to contradictory reports...."

Well, I don't know about the wage benefits of resorts, but I can tell you that a significant number of my customers, when asked "Where you from?" answer "Sunriver" or "Black Butte" or "Eagle Crest."

So from a small business owner's standpoint, destination resorts are important.

I think places like downtown Bend are more or less designed to capture business from this type of customer. It's why Bend is a tourist town, and that our local economy is dependent upon it.

There is an important caveat here, though.

When I say "Destination Resort" I mean a real, tourist destination, second home or vacation oriented community. Especially an established community.

The "contradictory reports" to me aren't really contradictions at all.

"Resort opponents have argued that many destination resorts are nothing more than large rural subdivisions, while developers and operators have said they draw tourists to Central Oregon and boost the local economy."

They're both right. I think the later 'resorts' have done little for our economy, because they aren't fully developed, they have had way too many "pretend and extend" passes on the touristy parts of their plans (overnight lodging, etc.).

Who's at fault?

The same guys asking for clarification on whether resorts boost the economy. The Deschutes County Commissioners have given waiver after waiver to these developers -- creating a boom and bust cycle.

I don't believe it's an accident that most of my customers come from well developed resorts, most of who were established long before the last land rush.

Real destination resorts help the tourist economy.

Fake ones don't.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's the outdoors, stupid.

Yet another 'survey' telling us that tourists come to Central Oregon for the outdoors -- the mountains and parks. (Hey, I think the High Desert part is undervalued...)

No, duh!

I keep offering to save them all the effort.

Why do people visit Bend?

It's the outdoors, stupid.

Will they be more likely to visit and spend more money this year than last year?

Probably not.

Will they be more likely to visit and spend more money in the future?


There. Survey complete.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Living like a tourist.

It's always interesting me to me when someone says to me, "Bend needs jobs that actually pay something..."

Deju vu all over again. Except I remember people just hoping for jobs, any kind of jobs. The 1980's in Bend were tough. Downtown Bend was half empty.

We needed jobs.

We talked a lot about that. The mills were closing. What were we going to do?

Tourism was what we had in front of us, and tourism is what we went for. Except that we had no illusions that it would get us rich. Tourism at least provided jobs, even if most of them were minimum wage. We were really pretty happy when a few buildings were renovated downtown and it filled up with modest Mom and Pop businesses. All well and good to say we were short-sighted to pursue tourism as a solution, but I think it was the only realistic option we had.

Every once in a while, someone would open something a little fancier, a little more upscale, but I have to say that even through most of the 90's these kinds of stores didn't do all that well.

I wonder sometimes if Bendites -- especially newer Bendites-- mistook the money that tourists flashed when visiting Bend as money that they should flash while living here. But it doesn't necessarily follow. The idea of moving to a tourist town and living like a tourist is pretty crazy, really, unless you're on permanent vacation. Otherwise, you're probably servicing the tourists, and that doesn't pay all that well.

So for a time in the early oo's, high end businesses actually survived, and some even thrived. But I have to believe, stripped of the boom, that it was an illusion. It's nice that people keep opening downtown, keep filling those vacancies, but I really wonder if they are following the 80's model (maybe a little too severe) the early 90's example (probably pretty close in potential to what we're currently experiencing); the late 90's example (started getting alittle ahead of ourselves, but maybe healthily aspirational); the early 00's example (O.K. going a little nuts now, but business was booming!); the late 00's example (all but delusional).

But tourism is what we've got. And unless something really exceptional happens (and even if it does it will take years to take effect) we're stuck with selling our 'lifestyle' and 'retirement' and our 'tourism'.

We're lucky, in fact, that we've been able to pull that off. There are plenty of towns who would like to have what we have. I was talking to a merchant from Ashland who was saying that downtown Medford seems to be emptying out.

In other words -- tourism, in it's own terms, has worked. It just doesn't provide big jobs, but lots of little jobs.

That's O.K., if you understand that's what's happening, that you can expect to earn whatever these folk are willing to spend, but you don't try to outspend them yourself. Let them drive the big SUV's; dine in the fine restaurants; stay in the boutique hotels, and let them have a fine old time. Maybe once in a while, you can save up and join them.

But as an every day Bend way to live, unless you've brought the money to Bend with you, you may want to re-examine your plans.

Poverty with a view still holds. We're a tourist town. Get used to it.

Sunriver Books visit.

We have yard people working in front of our house, so rather than hover, when we were done with our errands yesterday, Linda and I drove to Sunriver Books.

I like the way they have arranged the store, and I especially like their selection of books. Was actually able to get the owners to talk about things for awhile -- I'm probably more than a little overbearing, but it seems to be the only way to get people to open up a little.

We had some agreement on the types of books we want to carry. They obviously cared about the titles, and made a strong effort to bring in books that have quality. We sort of agreed that it was important to carry titles that maybe didn't sell quite as well to be a good bookstore.

She would point at a bookshelf and say, "I have to sell this book, so I can carry the book I really want -- this book. I have to sell this book, so I can stock this book."

(I probably should say -- they do carry best-sellers, as well. )

In the course of the conversation, she mentioned a good friend who has a store in another part of the state, and how well this other store was doing. When she mentioned the numbers, I kind of raised my eyebrows and said, "Are you sure?"

The numbers were so outsized, compared to the situation that other store was in, that it didn't seem likely.

This has happened a number of times over the years; I'm told sales numbers that just seem incredibly overstated. It doesn't make sense And my general rule of thumb is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

She was friends with this other owner, so it would be cognitive dissonance for her to doubt her friend's numbers. But that doesn't keep ME from doubting. Apparently this other store has been around a long time, and there was some independent confirmation of the numbers.

But still....I have my doubts.

What does it matter? Why do I care?

I think it's pertinent, because this other bookstore owner (a whole nother part of the state) had been trying to convince the folks at Sunriver Books that they should crunch the numbers and only carry the books that 'sell.'

I don't think it's coincidence that Central Oregon has a supply of new bookstores that are more varied and diverse. I think it's what works around here. Carrying only best-sellers would put us on a collision course with Barnes and Nobles and Costco. I didn't ask if this "other" bookstore discounted, which would have been a good question.

I suppose in the end it doesn't matter how well another store does, because every situation is different. Bend is different from Sunriver which is different from Redmond, and so on...
Local circumstances are all important.

Anyway, Sunriver Books is a real treat and well worth the drive if any of you Bendites haven't been there yet.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hey, give me a break.

I'm getting people saying, "You're never here anymore!"

Even if they're kidding, I don't like hearing that. I looked over the hours, and I work over half the open hours, and I'm open seven days a week. Even if I took every hour off when I had an employee in the store, I'd still be working more than half the hours, and there is considerable overlap.

Oh, well.

I think I'll probably just have to get used to the comment. My own feeling is that I need to be at the store at least 4 days a week. Less than that, and I get out of touch.

But the majority of hours and 4 days a week isn't going overboard, I don't think.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yeah, yeah a Tiger blog.

You know, it takes a certain size of balls to keep ordering stuff for the store when Pegasus has as horrible a week as we've just had. But I know, from experience, that these kinds of weeks happen. It's why I make plans in the first place, and why I don't change plans willy-nilly. I need to see a trend for 3 months, before I'll make major changes.

It helps that the six horrible days where sandwiched by two pretty big days.

Blame the weather and move on.

I watched the Master yesterday. I admit it, I'm fascinated by Tiger Woods. He's a role-model in a sense for how to approach business. He has these horrible shots, and a bad stretch, and a small tantrum, then he calms himself and keeps plugging away, and eventually turns it around.

At the end of the day, he's 4 shots behind, but you can tell -- just tell from the tone of his voice and the glint in his eyes -- that he still thinks he's going to win. (Any other golfer would probably be thinking, "wait till next year....")

So whenever I have a bad week, I throw a small tantrum, and then calm myself and keep plugging away.

Not that I'm any Tiger Woods; but you can learn something from the guys (overused) brass balls.


Along with the weird ass mug shots, the other thing you can depend on from the KTVZ.COM website is that every time a crime is reported there will be a number of comments along the lines of: "Throw the bums in jail and throw away the key!!"

And if they can start throwing these cell phone driving jerks in there, I'm all for it.

So on that basis, we need a bigger jail.

Still, it does seem to be something that isn't immediately necessary, if it was based on boom projection numbers.


Heroin in Central Oregon.

So when you become addicted to heroin or meth, what do you say to yourself?

"I didn't know it was addictive?"

I really don't get this....


You know, I would've thought if there was ever a heavily regulated industry, it would be coal mines. Kind of a shock that the regulations are "weak" and "rarely enforced."

I suppose it's one of those things that is a 'shock' every time there is an accident, and then it just fades away until the next time.


This statement in an editorial in today's Bulletin seems dubious to me: "...we could have averted crushing tax increases during the depth of a god-awful recession, and not the risk of the flight of private employers from the state..."

"Crushing" tax increases? Really?

Some examples? Or is any tax increase a "crushing" tax increase. I believe the corporate tax was pretty minimal and long overdue.

"Risk of flight," well, O.K. "Risk of"...not the same thing as it actually happening. Wouldn't we have some evidence of that happening by now?

I know it all accumulates and all, but really, the new jail would add all of 3.00 a month to my mortgage payment. Hardly a number to hyperventilate about....and I get more than 3.00 a month aggravation from the cell phone driving jerks a month. Throw the bums in jail!


Got to admit, the Bulletin's editorial policy is consistent.

Against school bonds.

For fast food blight in Sisters.

Against any new taxes...

Except for the new jail.

Heck, you don't even have to read the editorial, you can tell just by the placement of the story and the headline. The news isn't that there is an opponent to Sen. Wyden, but that the opponent is in "position" to "beat" Wyden.

I don't know if they've editorialize the jail measure yet, but a front page article with the headline of "need is still there" kind of gives me an idea of where they'll come down.

And at a time when our infrastructure seems to be falling apart around us, they give the "Bend builders" a headline about "lower fees". This seems to me to be the government equivalent of 'Sell it at a loss, but make up for it in volume."

Like I said, at least they're consistent.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

March results.

Pretty much forgot to do this.

Pegasus was up in sales 14% from last year in March.

Which sounds great. Except about 10% was due to a my biggest shelf holder coming in an clearing a tardy shelf.

More like a 4% increase. Was noticing too, that I had miscalculated (by not including some of last years sales) a little bit on January and February, so that the increases were more like 4% than the 8% I originally reported.

Still, counting March, we have beaten the previous year 7 months in a row.

Not by much, but there it is.

I think that string is coming to an end both this month and next month.

This month because I've just had a really, really crappy week in sales, that I don't think I can make up. So April will probably be an 'outlier' on the downside. (I do blame the weather shifts -- it's the change in weather that causes pauses in shopping behavior, and it seems like the last month or so has been nothing BUT changes in weather....)

Next month because May was so big that it is probably is an 'outlier' on the upside.

It's still possible we could beat last year in either month, but not looking good at the moment.

Considering that last year really was the low point, sales haven't exactly been booming. Still, I seem to be keeping even; I think the about 5% increase just about covers my employees.

Tally ho, steady on.

Friday, April 9, 2010

All things being equal.

To followup the previous blog.

I know what the industry defenders would say. I know what the public would say.

For years, the manufacturers, the distributors, and the industry publications who got their advertising from the first two, convinced everyone that if the sport card hobby was having problems it was because of any number of reasons.

The strike? Cards were already in free fall.

The other reasons: the high prices, the proliferation of brands, the lack of trust in dealers?

Most everyone bought into these reasons.

The fallacy is: the game industry and the comic industry have exactly the same problems without the same results.

Comics when I started were .60 and now run $3.50. There were less than a hundred titles offered every month and zero graphic novels. Now there are thousands of titles offered. Dealers are looked at askance.

Games? There was Magic at the beginning, followed by dozens upon dozens of brands. Specialty game boards? This has exploded from nothing to hundreds of titles, which get pricier and pricier.

In other words, proliferation and inflation happen IN EVERY INDUSTRY! It's a neutral value.

Others point to the fadness, the very popularity of sports cards as reasons for it's demise.

But believe me, comics and games have also had huge fads which died off -- and they didn't take the entire industry down with them.

The internet came along after cards had started their long hard fall; and again, is a neutral factor.

The difference is -- comics and card games have never had a strong presence in the mass market, for whatever reasons. That's the major difference. And if you want to believe the manufacturers that the "greater exposure" is going to help you, then you've got a problem.

I tried to make this case to the card retailers years ago, and they not only didn't they believe it, they actually went and bought their cards from Walmart and Target (thus reinforcing the trend.) I know of only one card shop that was around in the late 80's in Oregon that still exists -- there might be a few others -- everyone else has jumped in since the decline started, god help them.

Now that card games have gained a foothold, I expect them to follow the same path as sports cards.

To sum up.

What's the one factor that separates sports cards from comics and games.

It isn't price inflation. These have happened in all three industries.

It isn't brand brand proliferation. These have happened in all three industries.

It isn't dealer mistrust. These have happened in all three industries.

It isn't the fad factor. These have happened in all three industries.

It isn't the internet. These have happened in all three industries.

The one factor that separates sports cards from comics and games is MAJOR PRESENCE IN THE MASS MARKET.

(It might also be said this is the problem with books, toys and music. )

P.S. I don't expect that anything I can say or do will change what is about to happen. I can only adjust my own behavior so the damage is minimal -- which because of my experience with books, toys, and sports cards, I've already done.

Past is epilogue

I was already intending to write the following blog before I heard this morning that Upper Deck was no longer going to be making football cards.

Since they also aren't making baseball and basketball cards, they're toast. It would be like a music store not selling rock and roll, country western, and classical. Or a book store not selling mysteries, science fiction, or romance. A game store not selling board games, card games or toys.

Possible, but not likely.

As I mentioned before -- and this is said in the most sarcastic of tones -- it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys. This company was emblematic of all that was wrong in the sports card industry. I think they were crooks. Certainly short term thinkers. I didn't like them much.

So there is justice and karma after all.

Anyway, to tie this back to what I was originally going to write:

I gleaned two nuggets of vital information from the latest Internal Correspondence, which is the de facto trade publication for the game and comic industry. Try to catch the jarring contradiction.

First this:

"Magic the Gathering continued to surge in mass (market) in Q4 as the retail environment for collectible games remains a dynamic one...

"Mass merchants' share of the total Magic business is the highest it's ever been..."

O.K. Keep that thought in mind.

Now this:

"...the environment for collectible games at mass is changing. The biggest immediate factor is thr recent rapid decline in sports card business and in the number of sports SKUs, which affects the space for games because they're often near each other due to their similar formats.

"The sports cards business is down 35%.

"As a result, space allocated to sports is declining, and space allocated to games and entertainment is increasing."

Do you see the fly in the ointment? Is it obvious only to me?

You know, there was great fanfare 20 years ago when the sports card market expanded in the mass market. About how good it was for the hobby -- bigger exposure and all. They kept saying that as my sales disappeared... It was self evident it was NOT helping.

And as the hobby shops disappeared, and the mass market became the biggest seller of cards, the hobby disintegrated. Now the mass market is jettisoning the sports cards, and there are very very few cards shops left to pick up the slack. There are really only two card companies left who are viable: Topps and Panini. (Hell, there were three companies before the boom started: Topps, Donruss, and Fleer...followed by Pinnicle, and Score, and Upper Deck and Pacific and....and.....all defunct.)

I mean, it really fell apart.

It's all but gone.

So, what? The game industry is now determined to follow in those footsteps?

You know, because it worked so well for sports cards...?!

The gullibility and naivete of the game stores is astounding.

Oh, I already know what they'll say. They'll maintain that having play space and service and knowledge and blah, blah, blah will keep their businesses viable. Because, you know, it works so well to have the mass market sell the product cheaper, while you keep doing all the things that cost money but don't bring in money.....

Did I mention the mass market will sell the product cheaper? Because you know your customers are going to be willing to pay an extra 20% or 30% and 40% and 50% because they LIKE you and APPRECIATE YOU. They would never actually go buy the product cheaper from the mass market and still come and use your space and services.

They would NEVER do that!

So I just want to say, Past meet the Future....Future meet the Past. Be sure not to learn anything from each other....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

So it begins?

"18M in debt, filing bankruptcy." Bulletin, 4/8/10.

Pat Gisler was never my landlord, but he was the landlord of Pegasus Books for the first 3 years when we were still on Greenwood Ave. And he was my boss for awhile.

He started a little video game parlor between Pegasus and the pizza parlor (this was before they built the underpass and the building was still at street level.) I would work at Pegasus for part of the day, and then go over to the video game parlor for a few more hours. This was when there were video games everywhere.

I always felt that Pat treated me fairly, (his brother was another matter....) though I had always heard that he was a 'hard-ass.' I liked him; he trusted me with cash and the counts and I appreciated that.

He was more the 'adult' in the room, while I was a bit of the 'kid,' though I see from the article he's really only 7 years older than me. I doubt he ever would've taken advice from the likes of me, but it sure appears he got overextended.

Notice two things.

1.) Part of the 18 million debt is to Bank of the Cascades. This may be the first commercial loan that has hit the headlines, but I suspect it won't be the last.

2.) Gisler partly blames his moderating of rents to his tenants for his lack of cash flow.

There is a correlation here that is inescapable and is going to impact on every commercial property out there. Lower rents keep viable tenants. Higher rents drive them out. Lower rents keep the vacancy rate low, but make it harder to pay the debt. Higher rents drive up the vacancy rate, which also make it harder to pay the debt.

Most new commercial developments are going to be facing this dilemma -- higher rents, lower occupancy; higher occupancy, lower rents. And I'm sure that many of these CRE's were penciled out with both high rents and high occupancy. The banks are going to need to "moderate" these loans -- much like everyone was hoping they would "moderate" the home loans. And we all know how that's been working out....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Do you want to make money or have fun?

I'm struggling with a bit of a contradiction.

The "Best" bookstore I can have, the one that I'm happy to go to everyday, that I can be proud of , is NOT:

The "Most Profitable" bookstore I can have.

Oh, there's an overlap. If I was doing a pie-chart, I'd have about 50% of the two pies intersecting.

It took me years to realize that these two goals were in some ways in opposition.

The "Most Profitable" bookstore would be one where I simply crunched numbers all day. I'd order the new and best stuff I could get, but at "Sell Out" quantities. I'd skip most of the "Mid-List" titles. I'd look for publishers and product with the highest margins, and skip the lower margin titles. I'd buy in volume, meaning I'd buy higher quantities of best-sellers, but lower quantities of anything else.

In short, I'd sell the Newest and Best-Selling titles, with the highest margins, I'd order to sell out, and I'd order anything that was very cheap. I would sell on a yearly horizon, and not worry about 5 or 10 years down the road.

Which is fine.

But it leaves out a whole lot of what I deem "Worthwhile" books, that may not be "Best-Sellers" , that may have a slightly smaller margin, that may take a little longer to sell. It leaves out the meritorious titles I'm willing to carry for longer periods of time, perhaps taking up room that I could have devoted to the latest Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer's book.

It leaves out personal tastes, and idiosyncratic choices, and unusual surprises.

So....I bet some of you have caught where I'm contradicting myself.

Haven't I always said that it's the odd stuff that makes my store different? That makes my store stand out from the run of the mill? Haven't I always said that I couldn't compete on the best-sellers with the big chainstores? Haven't I always said that one should plan for the long-run, not the short run?

Yes and No.

I could design a store where I got just enough of the quirky stuff to look different.

I could design a store that was diverse enough to spread the risk.

And still make more of a profit. Because it would be more marketing than substance. It would be a compromise.

To really be different and diverse, I have to invest heart and soul in the idea of being idiosyncratic, of going my own way, of having fun with it, and just being weird for weird's sake.

Anything else, and it just isn't as satisfying.

Sure, I could have both ways: look like I'm planning for the future, when in fact I'm squeezing the store for every dollar. Look like I'm different and diverse, when in fact I'm just trying to intrigue you.

The biggest element of this is probably counter-intuitive.

By going for the bucks instead of the satisfaction, I'd be lean and mean and I'd be out of much of the product much of the time.

I can't entirely explain why this is true. It doesn't seem to make sense.

All I know is, if I am ruthless in my buying, I make money.

If I indulge in my buying, I make a lot less money.

If, for instance, I had a budget to spend of 60% of what I earn, I might be able to get most everything I need. I'd make a decent profit on sales. I'd pay the overhead. It would still be the Best Minimum Wage Job a Middle Aged Guy Ever Had.

But if I budgeted say, 45% to spend, I would only get most pf the basic stuff, I'd might have a small drop in sales but my margin would increase dramatically. I'd pay the overhead. And I'd be Better than Minimum Wage....blah blah.

Better than Minimum Wage, but NOT the Best Job, if you catch my drift.

But doesn't ordering less hurt my long term prospects. Don't I lose sales?

To some extent, but not as much as you might think. Most people wouldn't notice if I was carrying slightly less. The fact that I'm 'Sold Out' (which happens even the best of cases) would just be slightly more everyday, but not so's you'd notice. I'd sell Other stuff.

Like I said, it's hard to explain.

Here's a single example.

Say I sell my copy of Stray Bullets. Now this hasn't sold in 3 years. But it's a great book; a crime noir graphic novel, with interesting characters and a neat plot, and something I really enjoyed.

I can take the entire 30.00 and stick it in my register, not reorder it, and it would be all profit.
Nobody would notice. Nobody would care.

But I'd know I didn't have it in the store. And it would bother me.

Thing is, I can cut back just slightly on my new experimental buying, shave just slightly my replacing 'prestigious but low selling titles, buy just enough of the quirky stuff that I can interest people, and so on. The little bits here and the little bits there would all add up to profit.

And they would be like little cuts to my self esteem. Yes -- Cerebus hasn't sold in 5 years, but I have the full run! It was a landmark series! There is always a chance that a customer will start picking it up!

Thing is, after the first couple of thousand graphic novels, I'm probably not significantly adding to my sales by carrying another three thousand graphic novels. It wouldn't surprise me, for instance, if the top 20 best-selling Vertigo, Dark Horse, Image, and to a lesser extent, Marvel, series, account for half of my graphic novel sales. And if the next 50 or s0 titles account for half of what's left, and so on.

I've gotten very knowledgeable and savvy in my buying. I could easily spend that 45% on product that would satisfy 80% of my customers, special order to satisfy 80% of the other customers, and make more money. I'd be selling down on in stock product. Not replacing the mid-list titles. I could do this for years, and no one would notice.

Except me.

It's simple pride of ownership. It's trying to have that store that surprises outsiders by it's depth and breadth. It's working everyday in a store that would be the kind of store I'd like to visit.

So far, I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too. I'm trying to merge the contradictions, make the store both profitable and satisfying. There is one loophole that seems to be working pretty well for me: I can buy stuff that's slightly dated, or slightly less in demand, or completely idiosyncratic on the 'liquidation' lists. So far, this has helped me keep my store diverse and interesting, without breaking the bank.

But I still haven't let go of reordering the "Stray Bullet" type books; the titles I think are great but sell very little. Until then, it's an uneasy balance between profit and fun.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fat Cats.

I was starting to worry about my fat cat, Panga. She seems to sleep more than any cat I've ever lived with.

Picked up a book at Linda's store that said it wasn't unusual for cats to sleep 18 hours a day.

So I guess she's O.K.

She's still fat, though.


Was commenting to a customer that I didn't understand where all the Salon's were coming from.
I didn't know anyone who used Salons and I was asking people if they used them.

Thing is, I don't much like being pampered. I don't like being touched all that much. I want a quick hair cut and out.

The customer said, "Yeah, things like massages just 'skeeve' me out."

That's it exactly. It skeeves me out.


Noticed an interview with a business that's been in Bend even longer than I have, Cascade Jewelers, and noticed this comment:

"I think a lot of it" (longevity) "is because I decided, if I kept something small, I could control the inventory and the people who work for me. In case times get bad, I could run it by myself...."

Wise advise.


I've always thought it lame to blame the weather for slow business.

Shi ---er, weather happens.

But this last week hasn't been terribly helpful....


I'm going in for a teeth cleaning this morning.

I'm not sure if I buy into the "Clean your teeth or DIE!" message, but whatever....

(I mean the grinding picking part....)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Downtown Openings and Closings.

The last two new businesses I'd heard rumor of, were confirmed this morning by the Downtown Bend newsletter.

By my count, that's 51 new openings, versus 43 closings. Interestingly, the vacancy rate of 94% (pretty good!) is the same as last year at this time. Many of these new businesses are opening either in new locations, or places that probably weren't counted before, or taking what were formerly office space, at least I think that's the explanation.

I didn't count High Desert Frame as either coming or going, just changed their address, with an asterix.


Olivia Hunter, Wall St. 4/5/10.
Tres Chic, Bond St. 4/5/10
Blue Star Salon, Wall St. 4/1/10.
Lululemon, Bond St. 3/31/10.
Diana's Jewel Box, Minnesota St., 3/25/10.
Amalia's, Wall St. (Ciao Mambo space), 3/12/10
River Bend Fine Art, Bond St. (Kebanu space) 2/23/10
Federal Express, Oregon Ave. 2/1/10
***10 Below, Minnesota St. 1/10/10
Tew Boots Gallery, Bond St. 1/8/10.
Top Leaf Mate, 12/10/09
Laughing Girls Studio, Minnesota St. 12/7/09
Lemon Drop, 5 Minnesota, 11/12/09
The Curiosity Shoppe 11/5/09 25 N.W. Minnesota, Suite #7.
Wabi Sabi 11/4/09
Frugal Boutique 11/4/09
5 Spice 10/22/09
Cowgirls Cash 10/17/09
***Haven Home 10/17/09
Dog Patch 10/17/09
The Good Drop 10/12/09
Lola's 9/23/09
**Volcano Wines 9/15/09
Singing Sparrow Flowers 8/16/09
Northwest Home Interiors 8/5/09
High Desert Frameworks 7/23/09 (*Moved to Oregon Ave. 4/5/10.)
Wall Street Gifts 7/--/09
Ina Louise 7/14/09
Bend Home Hardware (Homestyle Hardware?) 7/1/09
Altera Real Estate 6/9/09
Honey 6/7/09
Azura Studio 6/7/09
Mary Jane's 6/1/09
c.c.McKenzie 6/1/09
Velvet 5/28/09
Bella Moda 3/25/09
High Desert Gallery (Bend) 3/25/09
900 Wall
Great Outdoor Store
Luxe Home Interiors
Powell's Candy
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Game Domain
Subway Sandwiches
Bend Burger Company
Showcase Hats
Pita Pit
Happy Nails


Glass Symphony, 3/25/10
Bend Home Hardware, Minn. Ave, 2/25/10
Ciao Mambo, Wall St. 2/4/10
***Angel Kisses 1/25/10 (Have moved to 'Honey.')
Ivy Rose Manor 8/20/09
***Downtowner 8/18/09 (moving into the Summit location)
Chocolate e Gateaux 8/16/09
Finders Keepers 8/15/09
Colourstone 7/25/09
Periwinkle 6/--/09
***Tangerine 7/21/09 (Got word, they are moving across the street.)
Micheal Cassidy Gallery 6/15/09
St. Claire Coffee 6/15/09
Luxe Home Interiors 6/4/09
Treefort 5/8/09
Blue 5/2/09
***Volcano Tasting Room 4/28/09** Moved to Minnesota Ave.
Habit 4/16/09
Mountain Comfort 4/14/09
Tetherow Property 4/11/09
Blue Moon Marketplace 3/25/09
Plenty 3/25/09
Downtown Doggie 3/25/09
***King of Sole (became Mary Janes)**
Santee Alley
Bistro Corlise
Made in Hawaii
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Kebanu Gallery
Pella Doors and Windows
Olive company
Pink Frog
Little Italy
***Pomegranate (downtown branch)**
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Speedshop Deli
Paper Place
Bluefish Bistro

Mother Nature, make up your mind!

Clash of the Titans = McCheeseburger.

Though I did like the Pegasus.

At the end, Zeus says, "I didn't want to lose a son to mankind," and I laughed out loud. No one else did. I asked Linda about it, and she didn't catch it.

Maybe because it was Easter, I thought it an ironic statement. Probably reading too much into it.

The 3-D effects were muddy and lackluster.

"Wow," Linda says. "This Sam Worthington fellow is becoming a big star -- Terminator, Avatar, and C of the T's."

"Yeah, but we still don't know if he can act...."


I'd be willing to jump all over bad Republican behavior, false degrees and strip clubs and all, except I think it's more general politician bad behavior.

Though the Republican's would be all over the Dems if it was the other way around, so I suppose to keep a balance, we need to point our fingers. "See!!! See!!! Bad guys! Republicans!!"


I've sold all of 2 of the 30 copies of the Twilight Graphic Novel. Not one of my better buying decisions. It seems to be neither fish nor fowl.


Been perusing my paper copy of Internal Correspondence, and am surprised by the general tone. I would have thought, after visiting daily the professional online bulletin boards for comic and game retailers, that the comic industry was slightly up and the game industry slightly down.

In fact, the comic industry is slightly down, the game industry is slightly up.

The problem is the other side of the coin of my previous post about those 30 comic retailers who are actually willing to talk about their business. They're all pretty good at it, so they tend to skew the perception.

The game insiders tend to be even more vocal, however, making their complaints sound like the industry isn't doing too well.

You have to factor in those tendencies.

I've always thought game retailers were the most analytical; the comic retailers, at least those willing to talk at all, are slightly less analytical; book retailers tend to fuzz their results and tend to be a little less open to new ideas; and card retailers are completely and utterly oblivious.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Letting it stew.

I've got a very crude sense about the stock market that as long as doubts are being doubted, and warnings are being warned, and clarion calls for getting out are being clarioned, that it's O.K. to stay in.

When that shifts. When I hear people saying, "By golly, this rally is the Real Deal!" that's when I'll be looking to move to cash. I want to pay off the house, but I want to ride this rally as far as I can.

I know, I know. You never know.

But still. It does seem like in my daily readings, I get an overall sense of negativity vs. positivity.

The Bulletin, The Source, The Oregonian, Salon, Slate, Calculated Risk, Mish's, Big Picture, Keypoint Partners Retail Roundup, Craig's List Rants and Raves, Naked Capitalism, Huffington Post, Bend Economy Bulletin Board, USA Today,, Bend Blogs, My Back Pages, Financial Armageddon and numerous comic related sites are on my daily reading list.

Obviously, these are weighted toward the negative sites -- Financial Armageddon? -- but I try to weight my evaluations accordingly. I think the negative sites have proven more reliable over the last several years, don't you?

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out my financial planning.

It may seem obvious, but you can't plan for the future until you know what kind of future you want....

I'll repeat. You can't plan for the future until you know what kind of future you want....

I thought I did. But the future I had planned was pretty much decided, circumscribed by circumstances.... and now it's been thrown up in the air again.

What's changed is this: We now have a viable retirement. Not just a pay the bills and pinch our pennies type retirement, but a real enjoy and live and explore kind of retirement. But a lot depends on what we do now. The variations seem endless.

I hate not making plans, of not mapping out a future, of leaving it undecided. But I'm a great believer that things become clear over time -- that I reach a conclusion, sometimes subconsciously, that feels right and then proceed. I get a Sense of the Future -- of who I am and where I'm going.

I joked about never having a Mid-life Crisis; that I got it out of the way when I crashed and burned out of high school. I wouldn't call this a mid-life crisis -- well, maybe it is, in that I'm a little fuzzy about things right now. What's weird is that I should be able to relax; and instead, I find myself worrying more than before. (Poor me. ) More is at stake, somehow.

What's surprising and dismaying is that I'm still up in the air about the future. I haven't integrated my new situation to my decision making process.

It was easier when I didn't have any other decision to make but to just put my head down and keep working and keep trying to save and keep trying to stay out of debt and keep trying to stay healthy and happy.

It's become complicated. Too many options, too many choices.

Somehow it's not working to say to myself, "Nothing has Changed. Put down your head and keep working and keep trying to save and la, la, la........"

It ought to work. It has always worked in the past. But somehow, this time I haven't been able to compartmentalize my situation.

It doesn't help that the businesses we own are going to be facing some major challenges from digital, and other complications. The next 5 years or so are already in play; but there are decisions I can make now that decide the 5 years after that; which then decide the next 5 years.
All well and good to say -- just keep working and saving, and let the future take care of itself. Perhaps because we own businesses, we have to plan a bit more than that.

I mean, I know I'm going to keep working in the store for the foreseeable future -- I know I want to keep working in the store, maybe with a bit more time off. But I still have to make decisions that affect my future; and my future will be affected by my decisions, you know?

And there is the matter of getting older, and being a little afraid that we won't have a chance to take advantage of our opportunities if we wait too long. I have to second-guess myself a bit, because I know that I have some family ingrained characteristics that aren't healthy. I need to let go, a bit. Allow myself to relax, to actually spend money.

The saying, "Life is not a dress rehearsal" really applies to me. I'm all about planning for the future, of delayed gratification.

What I said above about arriving at a 'Sense of the Future' after much thought and introspection and talking about it, is really true. It's shaping a 'narrative' of my life, if you will. And I had a pretty strong self-identity as an Underdog, a Come from Behind Dark Horse, and an underestimated achiever. Now, that's been thrown in doubt.

I can usually compartmentalize things. I can be aware of inner contradictions, but make room for them. This time, I'm still trying to work out all the ramifications. Usually, I'm the guy who can ignore all the problems, just keep going as if they aren't there, and hope that by going on, that the problems will resolve themselves. While it weighs down Linda. This time, Linda seems perfectly O.K. with the ambiguity, and I'm wanting more clarity.

I'm giving it more time to settle, probably until summer, before I make any major decisions....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bah, Humbug. I-Pad.

I've fallen behind my one book per week reading pace I set for myself, by about 2 books.

On the other hand, I have increased the pace of my reading which was the real point of the whole exercise.


Speaking of books, I was in the Open Book yesterday, and before I knew it I was carrying around about 8 books.

Thing about going into other people's bookstores, they always seem to have books you don't.

Pretty silly.

Not like I can't find enough to read in my own and my wife's store.

I put all but two of the books back.

Doug Peabody asked if Tina was my sister. I knew that Doug and her had worked together at Great American Plant Company -- and you're a real Bendite if you remember that place.

I told him about Tina's death.

Interesting. I always thought Doug knew who I was....but maybe not. Then again, this is a good thing, if he doesn't remember me from the early 70's and those bad old days....


I have a couple of weird little superstitions.

First of all, let me explain that I'm the worst basketball player ever.

Your 8 year old son could beat me at basketball.

Strike that. Your 6 year old daughter could whip me.

Actually....a 6 year old tribal girl who's never seen a basketball would be doing slam dunks on me.

So when I throw a piece of trash at the garbage can, I always....always miss.

If I don't miss? Bad luck.

Same thing, if I drive to work and everyone clears out of my way and I get nothing but green lights and I find the choicest parking space?

Bad luck.

It's a bit of the -- knock wood, don't jinx it mentality.

Crazy as it sounds, I just see it as a reminder that not all luck is good, and things don't always go my way, and out.


The new I-Pad has a Marvel app, which apparently, you know, actually Works.

So we come face to face with the future.


A comic publisher, Checkers, has severed it's distribution deal through Diamond. Alleging, among other things, that Borders Books is so far behind in payments that they aren't getting paid in a timely manner.

Others --- off the record -- dispute this.

Thing is, if you publish comics or graphic novels, it's pretty risky to drop Diamond, which is more or less the only real distributor for comic shops.

Speaking of Borders, they managed to re-up their loan, so the bankruptcy I've been expecting for a year or so may have been avoided.

Another note; a game retailer who was dabbling in comics, was ready to sever it's ordering from Diamond.

Ditto my comment about Checkers. If you don't buy comics from Diamond, don't even bother to try to sell comics....


Friday, April 2, 2010

Beards of our Forefathers..

Had the UPS guy in wearing shorts, and a heavy jacket. Now, that's Bend weather.

Err....that was so yesterday. Today, he'd need to add snowshoes to the ensemble, and this afternoon, probably a snorkel.


Selling plants in Central Oregon is a great business. You sell them in March to all the newbies, and then you sell them in May to all the locals AND the newbies....

Same types of plants, twice!


I'm not sure I can stand the old-foginess of my beard. I may not make it to summer, without trimming it.

"I have dream, where all men have a beard.

Where men are not judged by anything but the length and beauty of their beard.

I have seen the mountaintop,

I may not get there with you....

But I have looked over,

And I have seen the Bearded Land."


Bought a big screen T.V. -- and a month later, they're selling 3D T.V.'s.

Bought a laptop -- and a month later, they're selling I-Pads.


1090 foreclosures.


Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't a whole lot of balloon payments yet to come?

I know that our second mortgage (once upon a time, a Home Equity Loan) was a trap -- which we will be able to fortunately escape -- and it was signed at the peak of the whole smear -- about 2006ish. So, five years of low interest, no principle payments, coming due in 2011ish.

Adding a mortal blow, I suspect, to a lot of wounded people who were talked into similar loans.

Countrywide -- bastards.

Yes, I know people are responsible for what they sign.

Still.....Countrywide -- bastards.


A funny poll over on the comic professional's website: Someone asked if digital comics would be "good for business."

Amazingly, it was evenly split yes/no.

Then someone had the brainstorm to post to "RETAILERS" only; 10 to 1 -- No!!!

Apparently, most of the publishers and creators like the idea, most of the retailers hate it.

Imagine that.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Downtown Openings and Closings.

A couple of more 'salon' type business are opening downtown.

I'm sort of conflicted about including salons on this list -- then again, they occupy 'retail' space, which is really what I'm trying to keep track of. In fact, now that I think about it, most 'service' oriented businesses probably belong on this list. Office type businesses, not so much.

(Why is it that salons seem to be opening everywhere?)

The downtown is filling out in unexpected places. There seem to be a fairly static number of empty spaces, while new businesses find nooks and cranny's or new buildings that weren't being used before. Interesting.

I've heard rumor of still another couple of businesses planning to open, so the Openings list is getting bigger.

For those keeping count, I've got 49 openings, and 43 closings. I think I'm more likely to miss a closing than an opening, so keep that in mind. For instance, who was in the space that the Blue Star Salon is opening in?

Help me out, here, folks.


Blue Star Salon, Wall St. 4/1/10.
Lululemon, Bond St. 3/31/10.
'Jewel Box,'(?) Minnesota St., 3/25/10.
Amalia's, Wall St. (Ciao Mambo space), 3/12/10
River Bend Fine Art, Bond St. (Kebanu space) 2/23/10
Federal Express, Oregon Ave. 2/1/10
***10 Below, Minnesota St. 1/10/10
Tew Boots Gallery, Bond St. 1/8/10.
Top Leaf Mate, 12/10/09
Laughing Girls Studio, Minnesota St. 12/7/09
Lemon Drop, 5 Minnesota, 11/12/09
The Curiosity Shoppe 11/5/09 25 N.W. Minnesota, Suite #7.
Wabi Sabi 11/4/09
Frugal Boutique 11/4/09
5 Spice 10/22/09
Cowgirls Cash 10/17/09
***Haven Home 10/17/09
Dog Patch 10/17/09
The Good Drop 10/12/09
Lola's 9/23/09
**Volcano Wines 9/15/09
Singing Sparrow Flowers 8/16/09
Northwest Home Interiors 8/5/09
High Desert Frameworks 7/23/09
Wall Street Gifts 7/--/09
Ina Louise 7/14/09
Bend Home Hardware (Homestyle Hardware?) 7/1/09
Altera Real Estate 6/9/09
Honey 6/7/09
Azura Studio 6/7/09
Mary Jane's 6/1/09
c.c.McKenzie 6/1/09
Velvet 5/28/09
Bella Moda 3/25/09
High Desert Gallery (Bend) 3/25/09
900 Wall
Great Outdoor Store
Luxe Home Interiors
Powell's Candy
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Game Domain
Subway Sandwiches
Bend Burger Company
Showcase Hats
Pita Pit
Happy Nails


Glass Symphony, 3/25/10
Bend Home Hardware, Minn. Ave, 2/25/10
Ciao Mambo, Wall St. 2/4/10
***Angel Kisses 1/25/10 (Have moved to 'Honey.')
Ivy Rose Manor 8/20/09
***Downtowner 8/18/09 (moving into the Summit location)
Chocolate e Gateaux 8/16/09
Finders Keepers 8/15/09
Colourstone 7/25/09
Periwinkle 6/--/09
***Tangerine 7/21/09 (Got word, they are moving across the street.)
Micheal Cassidy Gallery 6/15/09
St. Claire Coffee 6/15/09
Luxe Home Interiors 6/4/09
Treefort 5/8/09
Blue 5/2/09
***Volcano Tasting Room 4/28/09** Moved to Minnesota Ave.
Habit 4/16/09
Mountain Comfort 4/14/09
Tetherow Property 4/11/09
Blue Moon Marketplace 3/25/09
Plenty 3/25/09
Downtown Doggie 3/25/09
***King of Sole (became Mary Janes)**
Santee Alley
Bistro Corlise
Made in Hawaii
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Kebanu Gallery
Pella Doors and Windows
Olive company
Pink Frog
Little Italy
***Pomegranate (downtown branch)**
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Speedshop Deli
Paper Place
Bluefish Bistro