Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Rewriting is a misnomer.

I know some of you are thinking -- "rewriting" a book in 12 days?

But what I'm trying to do here is come up with a "reading" copy; which means that continuity is the most important aspect.

The "rewriting" is a misnomer. Actually, it's more that I'm reading the book and making corrections. Significant corrections, but not actually rewriting the whole book.

I write a book in parts. All the parts could work but the whole be unreadable. So I want to try to read it how a reader would read it.

If I have time at the end, I may read the whole thing out loud to myself. I find that I will often read it slightly differently than what's on the page and what I read aloud is almost always an improvement, like my subconscious has a better choice.

I got another 4 chapters done, but I suspect I might be slowing down, because the later chapters probably need more work. Arrggh.

Anyone who thinks that one should write a book simply for the "fun" of it, has never written a book or is kidding themselves. By kidding themselves, I suspect they secretly or not secretly harbor the wish that the book will be published, make tons of money, and be covered in glory.

Writing a blog is "fun."

Writing a book takes time and energy. There are fun aspects in the process, but actually finishing a book -- to me -- becomes a little less fun. There is a great sense of accomplishment, though.

The fourth chapter needs some additional material -- so I'm hoping I can write that before I start doing the next 4 chapters.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Big surprise -- having half your market in two stores isn't a good idea.

A New York Times article on Barnes and Noble.

The publishers are scared to death that Barnes and Noble is going to follow Borders into going out of business, dragging book sales with them.

Because independent bookstores only account for 8% of the sales.

Well -- who's fault is that?

Did it ever occur to these morons that supporting Borders and Barnes and Noble instead of the independent bookstores was putting all their eggs in one basket?

It was inevitable and foreseeable.

And avoidable. Giving preferential treatment to the big box stores was going to kill the independents. This isn't in dispute. The publishers were sued and found guilty of doing exactly that. They still do, just in legal ways.


And your base, basically, are the small stores all throughout the U.S.A. This was true of sports cards, and it was true of the music industry, and it's true of book publishers.

Like the sport card manufacturers before them, and the album producers, the book publishers went full blast into the big box stores. They couldn't be bothered with the little guy.

I know what some of you are saying: The big box stores sold more, they had a better model, why should the manufacturers fight it?

I'm not saying they should have fought it. I'm saying they shouldn't have cooperated so thoroughly to it. Really, it was collusion. They saw big bucks in chain stores and they didn't put a moment's thought into slipping the knife into the small stores by making it difficult to compete. Whatever they told themselves, they gave better terms to the big boxes.

The big box mass market chains stores achieved their size and pricing because the manufacturers HELPED THEM DO IT!

I just get tired of the media leaving out this step.

The manufacturers were responsible for the market they got. They could have made more of a level playing field.

Even -- gasp -- giving preferential treatment to independents, if they had to give preferential treatment at all.

Bulk discounts (I'm sorry, selling 10,000 books to a hundred independents, or 10,000 to one bookstore, you STILL sell 10,000 books.)

Exclusives, early shipping, overships, expanded returns, longer payment terms, endcaps, cheaper prices, etc. etc.

They did it in a hundred ways, folks.

It's their own damn fault.

Or is it two steps forward, three steps back?

I made myself a couple of checklists for my writing the second draft.

As I mentioned, I have three themes I want to pursue:


For nuts and bolts writing, I made a second checklist.

1.) Is there a more original way to say it?
2.) Is there a telling detail you can add?
3.) Does it read professionally? Is it smooth and pleasing?
4.) Does it advance the story? Is there anything you can add for suspense?
5.) Sight, sound, color, touch, feel, all the senses.
6.) Are we emotionally connected to the narrator?

I planned to go through the chapters once. Then run through them again with the critiques from the writer's group. Then a third time with Checklist 1; and a fourth time with Checklist 2.

In reality, I ran through the chapters once with the checklists pretty much in mind, and then a second time with the writer's group critiques (which have turned out to be kind of skimpy -- the critique at the meetings can be anyway from 5 minutes to an hour, but there turn out to be only a few written comments and corrections.)

My test is -- if I picked this up in a bookstore, would it seem out of place?

I tell you what: I'm so glad right now that I actually had those books published back in the 80's, as well as got some real positive feedback on the unpublished manuscripts.

Cause if it wasn't for that, I'd be afraid I was making a fool of myself.

It is so intimidating. I've just put on my blinders, stuck a needle through my eye for a small lobotomy, and I'm finishing the damn book!

Drinking quit me.

I decided after doing the first four chapters, to drink a little beer and look at the story with a skewed perspective.

This used to be very effective for me. Made me more casual in my writing, looser, a little more creative.

Last time I drank anything was way back on my other writing binge, when I went to Baker City in the first week of September. Back then, it didn't seem to help at all.

Neither did it this time. Got very little out of it, the changes I made I'm not even sure are that much better.

Meanwhile, went to bed and dreamed that I wrecked both of my cars while drinking. I feel like crap this morning.

I haven't quit drinking, drinking quit me.

The only time I'm going to do it anymore is during social engagements where alcohol is suitable; and in my life, that seems to be only during the rare McGeary family get-togethers.

My wife, who is a life-long teetotaler, is not crushed.

Three steps forward, two steps back?

So here's what I'm doing.

I'm giving myself 12 straight days off from work to pound I'M ONLY HUMAN into a readable copy. This is the copy I'll put into manuscript form and print out and pass around for a few people to go critique.

The first two days, I spent just putting the chapters in the proper order. I started the process of cutting unnecessary chapters, or chunks of chapters. Title-ing and dating.

Started the real rewrite yesterday. Need to do at least 3 chapters per day, and I estimated between 2 and 3 hours per chapter.

Found out right away that some chapters are more finished than others. The first chapter needed hardly any work, the second chapter (which is a new insert) needed a lot more work, and so on.

I started around noon. When I finished, I looked up at the clock, it was 9:15 and I'd missed Downton Abby which was the only show I intended to watch on a usually busy Sunday viewing.

I got four chapters done.

I like them. I think they flow very well.

I did quite a bit of dumping of explanations. What I feel I need are thinner but stronger transitions. Anything that smacks of an "info dump" needs to be cut or integrated into the narrative or dialogue. Fantasy is hard, because you've got to explain so much more. But the more you explain by showing, putting it into scenes or in character's mouths, the better.

So, I think I was pretty ruthless. (It helps to have an intact first draft that I can always go back and check if I go too far.)

Meanwhile, I also fleshed out some of the actual scenes, gave them a bit more depth. This is where I tend to underwrite the first draft because I'm eager to follow the plot.

The first draft was probably close to 70,000 words, so it will be interesting to see if it gets bigger than that, especially since I've cut 3 and half chapters already.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roll your own. Really?

Something seemed hinky about the cigarette rolling business mentioned in the Bulletin.

You know, the "too good to be true" dictum?

I think it's the math.

The company promises that one can make a "300%" return.

The machine costs 34,000.00. Right off the bat, I have a question. Has this guy bought the business of a RYO Filling Station, or did he buy the machine? Does the "rent" refer only to the customer's use of the machine, or the business owner?

But assuming he bought the machine, and it's just a one time purchase, is this a good deal?

Let's make a couple of more assumptions.

Basically, the story says that he charges for material and time, at about 30.00 per eight minutes. For this, the customer gets 200 cigarettes. Now, if the article was right and people are paying 5.00 a pack in stores, then that's a savings of about 20.00. If you don't count the probably 15 minutes the whole thing is going to take to finish.

So assuming that the machine is running 30 minutes out of every hour, with the other thirty minutes being the preparation and selling part. (Actually, this is if he's busy. Not counting minutes where there are no customers....) Well, I'd love to be busy with a transaction 30 minutes out of every hour, on the hour. Instead of busy sometimes, not busy other times. But...hey, people got to smoke.

Anyway, I'm thinking 4 of these transactions an hour is an upper limit to how many times he can do this. (Of course, if they pre-roll them, they could get around this -- but that would be illegal....)

Which works out to 120.00 per hour. Assuming an 8 hour day, 6 days a week, that would bring in a lot of money. Let's say 5000.00 a week.

Now, assuming that he is paying 50% for cost of goods, he's making 2500.00 in profits. 130,000.00 per year.

So the company itself says you'll do three times the cost of the 34K, so that works out to 102K.

If you make it past the first year, it would seem like a bonanza.

So I googled RYO + Scam and learned the following.

First off, the company itself was served an injunction in 2010, and had to close down. The injunction hasn't been lifted, but is not being enforced. What that means, if I understand the legal issues here, is that any money accrued in the interim will be subject to full taxes if they are ruled against.

Since most of the money saving in this enterprise is by subverting the taxes -- they guys had better be saving up their profits to pay to eventual judgement to the government.

I'm doubting that the government is going to give up their taxes so easily.

Several states have banned these machines already.

Secondly: An already in-operation store mentioned that they sell 3000.00 worth a week in sales, which seems more reasonable. The 5000.00 I came up with assumed a high level of busyness. They also implied that they pay about 1/3rd in cost of goods. One of them mentioned a 3.50 royalty to the company on every cartoon of cigs.

Anyway, the sales are bit lower than I estimated, the costs a bit lower. Overall, they make about 20% less profit than I estimated. Still a pretty good 2K per week of gross profit. (Before business costs; rent, electric, insurance, labor, etc. etc.)

Third: The company itself says that it takes "10 to 20 minutes" to roll 200 cigarettes, not the 8 minutes in the story. In fact, they claim they can only roll 10 cigarettes per minute, tops. So that changes some of the assumptions above.

That means, if the machine is running every minute, they can complete 3 -- 200 count transactions an hour. Which means if they run every minute, they can sell 90.00 per hour.
Going back to my original assumption, that they are running half time if they are super busy, that works out to 45.00 an hour, of which 30.00 are profits.

This is looking less profitable all the time. Still possibly viable. 240.00 per day in gross profits, or 5700.00 a month. Still not bad, assuming low overhead.

These are the estimates of the actual producer of the machines. (They are trying to wiggle off the hook of being a "manufacturer", so apparently they scream they are slow to the regulators, and scream they are fast to potential customers. Assume something in the middle, and it still isn't looking as good.)

Fourth: The profits really come from cheaper pipe tobacco being used in the process. You can use legally taxed cigarette tobacco, but it's much more expensive. However, you apparently can go out right now and buy the same kind of pipe-tobacco cigarettes for under 10.00 a carton, already rolled. So you're actually paying more per cartoon, if that is the kind of tobacco you're using.

Fifth: There are discount cigarette retailers who sell a carton of branded cigs for closer to 45.00, than the full retail 60.00 a carton. (I don't know local costs -- I'm sure a smoker out there can tell us.)

So the savings, even on the pipe-tobacco cigs are now about 15.00 per cartoon, not the "half" that is advertised. This if for legal, brand-name, already rolled cigarettes that you can buy in 1 minute store transaction.

So. A good deal?

There seems to be a big risk that the machine will either be shut down legally, or become much more expensive (with taxes) to operate, as well as a danger that the operator will "owe" big bucks to the government. If he can make it past the first year, it might be O.K.

It seems to me, that even in the best-case scenario, the profits are less than advertised. You always have to assume that you'll be less busy than you think you will be.

But it might be enough to be part of a diversified tobacco shop. If I had one of these machines, I'd probably get all kinds of tobacco paraphernalia, maybe some food and drink, a gambling machine or two, whatever it took to keep the doors open.

I'd probably try to hold back a significant percent of my revenues from the machine for the eventual day of reckoning.

The Taxman Cometh!

P.S. Math isn't my strong suit, so if any of you can point out errors, let me know.)

getting ready to get started getting going on beginning

It took me two days to get the manuscript ready for rewriting.

Organizing it, rearranging.

Numbering and adding titles.


So now I'm ready....I think.

I'm hoping to do about one chapter per day. It may be more, it may be less. I won't rush it, but will do it at whatever pace seems right. I've read almost all the chapters at writer's group, so I have hardcopies with critique and corrections to spark off of.

My intention is to finish a chapter, whatever chapter. Then the next day, read what I finished the day before and move on to the next. And so on. Hopefully, rereading a rewritten chapter before starting the next one will give me an approximation of how the reader approaches a new chapter.

I know this isn't very interesting to anyone, but so be it.

This is going to be what I'm doing for awhile.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Getting serious about finishing.

I took a stab at putting my book, I'M ONLY HUMAN, into a second draft yesterday.

Changed it quite a bit. Put a 'floating' chapter in as the 2nd Chapter. Cut about half the original 2nd chapter and made it the 3rd chapter, and moved the 3rd chapter to the 11th chapter. Cut the 4th Chapter.

Cut quite a few duplicate explications. (Going to explain less, and hope the story shows it.)

Simplified some of the terminology.

The willingness to cut one's "precious" words is the hallmark of a serious writer, in my opinion. It means I'm getting serious about getting it into readable form, even if I have to cut out some really nice sentences, paragraphs and pages.

(At least four chapters can be used for the prequel, which I've already got in mind.)

Since it turns out to be flashback heavy (seems unavoidable for an eternal protagonist...) I've decided to title each chapter, and put in timestamps where necessary. (NEW YORK, 1845.)

I wrote a few simplified bridging scenes.

Anyway, got as far as the 11th chapter. Pushed the wrong button, and it disappeared!

Then spent two hours trying to find it again. (Yes, I tried everything -- dropbox, trash, everything. I even read the damn manual. ugh.)

Got really angry, then depressed. Almost any of the other chapters I could have reproduced. (I'm keeping the first draft intact in case this second version just doesn't work.)

Anyway, it was VERY UNSETTLING and pretty much destroyed any momentum I had. Went to bed unsettled and still feel unsettled this morning.

So, I'm going to try to reproduce the Chapter 11 today -- but not slave over it. Then move on to getting the rest of the book in the proper order.

THEN: I can get serious about revising the actual words.

As I mentioned: I feel like I've now fleshed out this world, ironed out the rules of engagement, created the characters. But I did this by writing the book. Now as I read the first draft, I can see where I was feeling my way into this fleshing out, and many of the explanations have been slightly changed or are unnecessary.

The rules should go into the background, to be abided by, but only hinted at.

I also sort of figured out the themes. Which I want to play up in the second draft.

Big signs over my desk.

Theme #1. HUMANS ARE STRANGE. As the main protagonist, Kobb, "becomes human" I want to highlight all the strange things about being human, make little remarks about human behavior.

Theme #2. WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE? So the main human emotion the protagonist learns is Love. So I want to show a Love story.

Theme #3. THE WEIRD MENAGERIE. It turns out, that Kobb is "The Protector" of creatures, great and small, in both his world and ours. Want to show these creatures, and how he has tried to save them.

I've included several scenes with historical characters who are famous writers. I want to do some research on these writers, and put some of their own words in their mouths and just try to make them believable. (As well as historical verisimilitude in the settings.)

At this point, it's very hard for me to get a sense of the flow of the book, and I'm doing it by instinct. This "feels" right here, this "feels" right there. I'm trying hard not to get to that point where I simply can't see the book anymore with fresh eyes. But this point is unavoidable, as far as I can tell, and I just have to have faith in my original vision.

Hey, if it doesn't work, it's been another learning experience, which I intend to apply toward the next effort.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday fuds.

I always figured it was unlikely the state would do anything to drive away Facebook. But I suppose it had to be processed.

You win again, Facebook!


Why doesn't the Deschutes Pub expansion seem an overreach, when I remember thinking that Merinda was?

Because it's a proven success, I suppose.


Managed to insult a builder yesterday, without meaning to. What's next, bankers?

Bankers are people too.

I suppose you can't write anything without bleaching it to a pure bland without risking a little bit of misunderstanding.

So my snarky remark was: "They are the absolute LAST PEOPLE ON EARTH I'd ask for an honest opinion."

To which Builder Dude expresses mock disappointment in the comments. "Awww.....Shucks...."

Then I ask Builder Dude: "So....how's the building going?"

He answers: "Could be better....but it's been worse."

You know what? I believe him.

Queue one of my favorite sayings:

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day..." Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Online reviews are bunk?

Who'd have thunk it?

Well, obviously, it's easily manipulated. And even when it's not, the strongest opinions -- fair or not -- will out.

I know my own experiences have been completely contradicted by what I read online -- both positive and negative.

So....bunk. Total, useless bunk.

This is one of those cases where the internet isn't going to be able to replace a journalistically independent reviewer. (Among other things.)


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not an ounce of integrity.

According to Yahoo Finance:

"Fewer Americans bought new homes in December. The decline made 2011 the worst year for new-home sales on records dating back nearly half a century."

So what do the "experts" conclude?

"Although this decline was unexpected, it does not change the story that housing has likely bottomed," said Jennifer H. Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Um, why? Because it's reached a new low? You just told us it was unexpected, so how can I not expect you to miss the next forecast too?

But this last statement floored me.

"A sustained rise in new home sales is imminent," he said. "Homebuilders say so too, and they should know."

"Homebuilders say so too, and they should know."

I'm speechless.

Tough patootie, artists!

The comics world is ablaze with arguments over the future of independent comics. Much of the disagreement is over piracy.

But I think the problem is more fundamental than that.

There just isn't enough of a financial reward for almost all comic creators. There are exceptions, but even regularly published and well-known comic people are having a hard time surviving. Many of them are approaching or are already middle-aged, and without much net worth, without health insurance, and without much of a guarantee of a future that will provide.

I sort of believe this is true of almost all artistic fields. That the same thing could be said of musicians, painters, actors, and writers. I think we all get to about 30ish and have to decide if we are willing to risk our future on a very uncertain way of life.

I wish there was an answer.

I suspect that the internet is going to mean that there are going to be a few -- a very few -- financially successful artists, and a whole bunch of people doing it part-time for the love of it. This has always been true. But I think in the past there was a mid-list zone, where talented and diligent artists could at least make a living (and hope to move into the upper tier.) I think it's this middle that is being hollowed out.

And that it's the internet that's doing it. Piracy, to be sure. But just the access to so much material has flattened the pay rate for most everyone.

Anyway, if you are interested in the issue, and you have a strong stomach, I urge you to visit The Beat: The News Blog of Comic Culture, and read the over 100 comments that follow the essay. People can be pretty cold-hearted.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just going about my business.

Sometimes it's best to just quietly go about your business, you know?

And a blog isn't quiet.

Then again, the crossover between customers and blog readers probably isn't huge.

No dark secret, just that I'm quietly curtailing much spending this month. Just letting what I've already ordered come in. My orders from several months ago were bigger than normal, so that seems to be bringing in a healthy supply of product.

Meanwhile, I'm sort of taking a step back from writing, as well.

I was stumped for awhile, and decided that it was better to wait until I was ready before I started again. Well, that seems to have worked. I've dreamed -- literally -- a couple of solutions, and I think I'm ready to get going.

So next week, without fanfare, I'm going to start in on the second draft. I'm doing a bit of Jedi-mind tricks on myself.

See, it's important to get all motivated and loud about starting a book, but ironically, to finish a book I need to take the opposite tack. A sort of a lessening of pressure, a "It's no big deal" sort of attitude. The closer I get to finishing, the more I have to quit thinking about it.

I have to sort of turn off all my critical thinking again, and just enjoy the process -- and feel my way toward a flow of words that seems right.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday tings.

I need to start saving up some of these entries. I've been doing two or three a day, but then I have days like today where I can't find any blogger fodder in the paper or from the internet, and I don't have anything bugging me.

I'm sure I'll come up with something.


Have a guy in the backyard cutting up the fallen tree. He asked if he could take the wood and use it, and I said By all Means!

Linda had wanted me to find someone to use the wood.


Today seems to be Taking Care of Business day. All the little errand-y type things I've been saving up. Plus, I've got to do my monthly orders.


Had lunch yesterday at some of Linda's church friends house in Crooked River. Walked to the Deschutes gorge, about 800 feet distance, through the sagebrush and juniper. My shoes are CAKED with mud, which no amount of banging against the floor will dislodge.

We have a joke. Most of Linda's church people only know me by reputation. Linda jokes that I'm the "Mythical Duncan."

So I think they're always surprised by how talkative I am. I bet they were assuming I was shy.


My hair and beard cutting person has moved to Redmond and I've been debating whether it's worth driving all that way.

Thing is, I'm comfortable with her.

Why is it so hard to change hair cutters?

I'm starting to look like a mountain man, so I've made an appointment.


I think this is the worst two weeks stretch I've seen affected by weather. Slop and wind are the two most customer-discouraging patterns. Snow...people get used to it. Cold...they bundle up. Rain...they run to the door. Heat...they walk to the door.

But slop on the ground and wet slush blowing in your face? No way.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Small business cycles are both conservative -- and liberal.

I'm using these terms loosely, but you'll see my point I hope.

When business is booming, it seems to me the smart thing to do is play it very conservatively. You grow only as fast as you can grow without taking on debt, without overspending, without stretching your cashflow.

Indeed, you take the money that's flowing in and you pay off your debts. You DON'T take more money home, but stay on an even keel. Instead you spend that money on infrastructure improvements, or an increase in inventory.

By playing it this way, you may not grow as fast, but you grow manageably.

When business is bad, you take home the same amount of money, and you continue to spend everything else on keeping up the inventory and day to day management of the store. You are going to take on more risk to keep the business up, in hopes of increasing market share, of locking in the reliability factor with the customers so that they know they can depend on you.

By taking on more risk, you probably are going to take on some debt as well, but if you have gone into the slowdown without debt, this level can be kept manageable. And if you hang in there, you can probably count on the eventual recovery in taking care of this debt.

As far as I can tell, just about everyone else does it the opposite.

They spend like drunken sailors when times are good, they grow fast, they take home lots of money, and take on lots of debt. New cars, new houses, new everything.

Then when business goes south, they cut drastically, and hold on. Except, by cutting drastically, they've probably cut their own throats. When business is bad, you need to be at your best.

I think that's why I've survived this long, because I seem to never do as well as other businesses when times are good -- but never as bad as other businesses when times are bad.

As far as I'm concerned, it's been a fair tradeoff.

Most small business owners experience only one or two complete cycles in their career. (If you last long enough, you'll experience at least one boom and bust.) I've been lucky (?) in that I've experienced maybe a dozen or so, manifested in "fads."

What I mean is, I've had 30 to 50% drops in sales over and over and over again. And eventually, I arrived at my contrarian approach to the business cycle that I mention above.

The last five years have been the best five years we have experienced in terms of profits.

Which is the result of not making as much money as everyone else during the boom years.

It's not easy being a liberal.

It's not easy being a liberal.

There is an article at the Economist which asks: "The Hangover; America is Recovering from the Debt Bust Faster than European Countries. Why?"

If I'm summarizing this correctly, it seems to come down to a reduction of household debt. And that reduction is due mostly to foreclosures. Whereas in Europe, people are hanging onto their houses -- and their debt -- more often.

The liberal part of me says, Good for them! That's seems more humane.

The other part (dare I say conservative?) is aware that historically, economies which deal with household debt recover faster and eventually increases in productivity bring the economy back which is good for everyone.

The other part of the equation is, that the U.S. (the federal government, but not the state and local) has continued public spending, unlike the austerity measures in Europe. This is the liberal side of me, agreeing with Krugman that we need to spend money.

Again, historically, if the private debt is dealt with first, the public debt is taken care of by increases in productivity. This is a lot like my business, where cutting is not always the right thing to do in the face of a slowdown. Indeed, I think I'm still around because I've sometimes made the decision to increase spending at a time when everyone else is cutting back.

Finally -- such soul searching comes from my liberal side.

So, overall, I'm still a liberal, right?

The bad news is....the good news is...

The number of e-readers in the hands of customers more or less doubled over Christmas.

(Because most of them were given as gifts.)

But about half the people who got Kindles haven't taken them out of the package.

I had my first urge to buy an e-book a couple of days ago. I don't have an e-reader, so it wasn't much of a temptation, but I had the fleeting inclination. It was a book mentioned in passing, that sounded really interesting but which I've already forgotten. This is always happening, of course, but I usually don't pay much attention. I find plenty of books to read.

Thing is, I know enough about the availability of books to know that I'd be unlikely to find that particular title anywhere locally, not even at Powell's. So that would seem to be the perfect book to look for online. Of course, maybe it wouldn't have been available there, either.

I'm still sticking to my assertion that people will continue to buy book books. Because people like to browse and touch and talk about books. I just don't believe it's a Zero Sum game. And there is some evidence that people who buy e-books also end up buying book books.

The independent bookstore would seem to be the place for that. (I think Barnes and Noble is doomed, however.)

You can find various surveys over on Shelf Awareness, of which I'm summarizing.

Amazingly, over half of the respondents say they won't buy an e-reader. This percentage is up over last year, which was up over the year before.

So they say.

A "killer app" could change that.

Interestingly, the percentage of people who say they want to buy their books from Indies is about 3 times the number of people who actually do buy their books from Indies. Their heart is in the right place, but when it comes right down to it, they buy from where they're at -- and they're closer to a computer and the mass market and big box stores.

This fits in with my overall impression of the comic market, the card market, and just about everything else I sell. If you ask people, they are very supportive. But the numbers don't add up.

So we just have to keep chipping away at that.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday suds.

Because of a skin condition, I have to take cortisone every day -- on my forehead, around my ears, and a bit around my nose.

Fortunately for me, a little over the counter medication every morning after a shower is effective.

(I've met people with the same condition who didn't get the same relief -- the red, itchy, scaly stuff some people get on their elbows and on their chests and on their face-- but for me it works.)

For the last two days, my eyes have been swollen and red. That worried me, because the condition gets really bad if I can't use the lotion.

I'd just started using a new tube of lotion. Sure enough, when I read the small print -- it is a very slightly different formula. Package looks the same in every way, except for one small banner.

Phew. Dodged another bullet.


So are you lucky when bad things happen in a good way? Or unlucky that bad things happen at all?


All those headline writers were just waiting for the moment they could pull out the "newtered" headlines....


Robots are taking the place of Malheur Lake carp. Oh, wait. Did I read that headline wrong?


I think I've got my sleep patterns back to normal. Forced myself to go to bed by 12:30, and then forcing myself to go back to sleep in the early morning. Seems to be working.


Lost my wifi connection on my laptop at home, which is a little scary. I'll reboot and see what happens. It isn't the cable because my wife's computer works. Damn.


Went to see Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, American version. It was well done, Linda really liked it, but it seemed kind of unnecessary to me. It did remind me of what I liked about the book, though, and that was the detailed nuts and bolts of the investigation.

Some of the reviews I've read find that part to be boring, but that's the part I liked. Almost all mysteries and thrillers skip those steps these days. The literary thrillers are all gray and inconclusive, and the non-literary thrillers just skip all that and go straight for the action.

Went to see Haywire the day before, and, yeah, I believe that dame could kick the crap out of most guys....

I do love to go to movies...

Came home and watched Star Trek, and marveled how good it was. I told this before -- that my Mom went to see the Star Trek, Return of the Whales, movie and came back and said; 'I liked it. It was like spending time with old friends."

You have to understand my Mom had a disdain for sci-fi (and had a hard time understanding my fascination with it.)

Anyway, that's how the new Star Trek movie felt -- spending time with old friends.

Looked it up: the next Star Trek is scheduled for May, 2013.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oh, yeah. THAT's why I don't do that.

We were up 20% in sales in December from the previous year.

But I also spent the whole season replacing inventory. I wanted to see what would happen if I was fully stocked all the way through the season.

Flash forward to the floods of this week, and a huge drop in customer visits and sales, and -- coincidentally, many of the bills coming due from the Christmas surge.


Weirdly, I've found that I have a much less stressed store if I order heavily in the slow months, and tail back in the busy months. The opposite of what makes sense on the surface. Sure, it probably keeps sales lower on the busy months, but that is counteracted by sales probably being a bit better in the slow months. Everything seems to be paid for much more smoothly. (Bills more often come due during the busy months, and slacken in the slow months.)

Thing is, I actually had results from the heavy inventory buying -- so the situation is temporary and can be adjusted for. But I could have ordered all that inventory, and the weather that we had this last week could have been the weather we had the week before Christmas. Not a pretty possibility.

There were also some long term objectives in keeping my inventory up through the Christmas season. I knew that I wouldn't have to order as much in the rest of winter, which has been more or less true. As soon as I get this bulge of bills out of the way, I'll have clear sailing for awhile.

I also wanted to keep my new higher discount level with DC, which I've probably locked into for at least the next six months, by which time I'll be in the summer season. So I've probably saved myself hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars -- eventually.

And finally, I had a one month chance to order DC product for an extra 5% and I took that opportunity for ordering extra copies of the best-selling graphic novels, so that will also rebound to the bottom line -- eventually.

So a little short term pain for some long term gain.

But I think I'm going back to the old way of doing things. It's much less risky and stressful --

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kick ass movies.

Woke up this morning to find a tree crashed in our backyard. Missed the deck by inches. Phew.


My custom is to watch Jon Stewart every night. Funny stuff. Almost always get a belly laugh or two. Is there anything more soul cleansing than a belly laugh? But I used to watch Stephen Colbert only once in awhile.

Now -- he's a never miss, and as funny as Stewart. We are lucky to have these two guys.


The Mayor thing is just unnecessary and a distraction.

What are these guys thinking? We've got bigger problems.


Linda always responds to heartwarming, or serious movies advertised on T.V. by saying, "I want to see that!"

So this morning, I say, "Let's go see Haywire," and she says, "Yeah, I really want to see that!"

It's a kickass movie, with a lady kickasser.

Thank goodness, when it comes to the crunch, she is always willing to see a thriller, comedy, blockbuster, horror, sci-fi, or cartoon with me.

Planning for temporary disasters.

I was mentioning at Pegasus how these last four or five days have been hard on sales, and a guy said, "Yeah, they said something on the radio about how most businesses don't plan for these kinds of things."

Well, sure. But neither do most households.

Anyway, I think what happens is that we tend to plan for the average. But when things are better than average, we spend the money trying to keep that going. Instead of saving it for when things are worse than average.

Under-capitalized businesses will always have trouble with these unexpected events, because they spend every dime they have trying to get more product and or catching up on bills.

Many small businesses are under-capitalized because the business --is -- their backup plan. They can't find a (decent) job, or they have a great idea (they think) and they hope they can leverage up their business through hard work. So they go all in, throwing everything they have into the effort.

I know someone is going to pop up and say that an under-capitalized business needs to raise money, hold back on the cash. But if you actually are one of those businesses, you quickly realize that you pretty much have to throw every dime into the business -- all the time. If you're not trying to leverage growth, you're probably going to go backward.

There simply isn't enough margin to both save and build. Because here's the thing: What you're trying to do is leverage every dollar into two dollars. So every dollar you withhold is really a potential two dollars you didn't make, which is a potential four dollars which is a potential eight dollars.

I mean -- that's what it means to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You have to invest it in your future -- you're taking the risk to grow.

Of course, almost everyone makes mistakes (really, everyone makes mistakes) or gets caught short by some unforeseen event, and that's where businesses get into trouble with debt. The credit cards used to be fairly willing to loan money to struggling bootstrap businesses (don't actually know if that's true anymore.) So then, not only are you trying to build your business but you're trying to pay back debt.

I'm not saying that someone smarter than me can't build his business and save money at the same time, but I never found it possible.

If you are well capitalized, you might have an emergency fund -- and ironically, you'll probably need it less. Or you may have an opt-out where going backward for awhile isn't something you want to do. "Screw this not making money!" and you quit.

Some of us though are using different coin -- hard work, to be sure. A better idea, maybe. But also -- but mostly, well, the willingness to risk. You may not have much, but the fact that you'll risk it all may be the reason you are in business, and others aren't.

That same willingness to risk is going to go into the building of your business.

It wasn't until this last decade or so that I had enough credit and cash on hand to handle the temporary disasters -- and I remember thinking, the first time it happened --"Oh, this is how it feels to actually have emergency funds!"

Wow. It's a totally different feeling.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's still Poverty with a View as far as I can see.

I was ready to tackle the "Growth is Expected in Central Oregon" article in the Bulletin. But there was nothing to tackle but air.

Other than Facebook creating more (temporary) jobs, not a lot substance. The forecast was so general and vague as to be pretty useless.

Let's see. To get more jobs, we need to be more "innovative." Which is pretty much saying that we could get more work done if we work harder.

Thanks. What are we paying you, again?

So nothing much there. I'll just fall back on my on internal guesstimates.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I don't expect my sales to get back to pre-crash numbers until 2016 or so. Which falls in line with the other article in the Bulletin, "Few Cities Have Regained Jobs...." which predicted it would be 2016-2018 before Bend regained the jobs it lost.

Is the economy improving?

Lots of articles to that effect. All over the place.

My own guess isn't that it's improving so much, as that people have settled in. The new baseline to work from.

Unless Europe goes south, and gauging from the falloff in news about that (and only gauging from the falloff in news about that) the danger seems to be slowly receding.

Still, plenty of warning articles as well.

Not that the media is a reliable gauge, but probably more reliable now than it was during the boom. There is definitely an optimism bias there. But at least there is a bit more skepticism these days.

Locally, I still know quite a few people who are struggling. I have a customer who works for a major employer around here whose entire office division was laid off -- and he thought the manufacturing part was not far behind. If so, it will be a major blow.

On one hand, this is the 'real' economy in Bend, and I think it's still struggling. But I can deal with that. It's just a one damn thing after another scenario which I'm completely accustomed to. What I was dealing with in the first decade of my business....well, hell, for most of the years I've been in business.

On the other hand, I'm actually more fearful of economic panics -- such as the collapse of Europe, or any other earth shaking event. Those can have more dramatic impacts on sales than the slow drip, drip, drip of a struggling local economy.

We had a nice Christmas, but I think that we're talking about tourists who are affluent enough to visit Central Oregon in the first place -- are probably affluent enough to actually shop, and since they are on vacation, will buy in shops instead of online. (This goes double for new residents who start new businesses -- that they can move here and open stores probably just shows they have the means to do so.)

Which is a real valuable attribute to Bend's tourist economy. (The Growth article also mentioned the "retirement" business as being a growth area.)

So, as usual, I fall back on tourism and retirement as being our main industry around here, which unfortunately means that we'll remain mostly "poverty with a view" for most of us.

I think that's O.K. as long as we understand and adapt to it.

Talkin' to my friend Noah....

What shall I talk about today. Gee....anything happen lately?


All the water we've been missing over the last 3 months got dumped in one day....


I'm not afraid of snow. I am afraid of other drivers.

Especially the slow ones. I'm always afraid they're going to slam on their brakes in full on panic.


Rain, baby, rain.

Melt this gunk away before it freezes.


My ceiling at the store sprung a leak.

I caught it pretty fast. Stuck a bucket under it. I think only one toy container was damaged.

But it freaked me out. This is not a store where you want to spring leaks. Just a tiny bit of water can soak into cardboard and paper and it becomes a soggy mess.

I'm pretty sure we have a lake up there, probably all the water trapped by gunk. It didn't make me want to leave at 6:00 without being sure the flood was over.

But what am I going to do -- sleep here?


First leak I've seen in 30 years.

Then again...it's been 30 years....


I was surprised....a bunch of my comic customers came in to collect their shelves. That's the advantage of having periodicals for sale in the store. Regular regulars.

As opposed to counting on drop-in customers only.


The roof guy came by pretty quickly, and he confirmed that the gunk had clogged the drains and dammed huge puddles of water.


Dropped by the Bookmark and it also sprang a leak, as well as having a window that "failed."

I have to wonder if every old building in town sprang a leak.


The "rain baby rain" part I wrote yesterday above?

Forget I said it.

I'll take a slow melt instead....


Linda got up at 6:30 this morning and is headed for her store to see if the buckets under the leak overflowed. We were going to go back late, just before bed, but we just couldn't get up enough gumption.

So depending on how big the puddle was above her leak....

Hopefully, it's all right. Because at least the rain slowed down.


Heh. All you industrious driveway shovelers.... my driveway is clear this morning.....


Water related:

Pouring water into a volcano. On purpose.

Oh, oh.

I remember the last time I poured water on a hot griddle. Watch out!

Probably will crack the earth, and we'll be staring over the abyss, what? At least Central Oregon will be on the cutting edge, for once.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When Bend was Bend.

When I went to bed, I was all ready to accuse the media of being alarmist about the snow -- we had maybe half to an inch on our porch.

Then....this morning. 4 or 5 inches, which is considerable.

Still, I do think the media tends to play it up, versus my youth, when they tended to play it down.
Then again, that could be a false memory. Old Bend versus New Bend. A time when I walked to school with snow up to my knees.... When men were men, and Bend was Bend, and winter was winter.

Or maybe I'm just remembering my school age self hoping that a little snow would cancel schools.


Yesterday was horribly slow at the store -- so what can I expect today?

A day of going around rearranging and cleaning things, I think. Maybe I'll do my orders.

I'm so thankful I have the resources to handle these sudden drops, unlike the Dark Years when I would have had to scramble.


I got back the nice print of Star Axe, beautifully framed.

I switched pictures at the store, and took the original painting home.


Video game sales were down 8% last year.

I'm no expert -- I have nothing against them, but I decided that trying to keep up with one more media, my head would explode. (New books -- I'm already inclined that way, and Board Games -- I probably fall down a little there....)

Anyway, even so -- I can guess that this has to do more with "Hot" games and "New" platforms than it does with actual interest in games. One web site mentioned boardgames as competition, but I think that's ludicrous. I'm pretty sure boardgames could double, and they'd only move the video game meter a smidgen.


Hey, I just realized I could take my first day off blogging in five years and say it was a Blackout in support of anti-SOPA efforts.



I read this week's Sunday New York Times, instead of putting it on the pile. Just try to keep up from here, instead of trying to catch up.


How not to get my business.

I go to a certain website to order books. They have new listings every day. So I add to my order each day, through the month until my credit card turns. This way, I don't miss anything and I can get to my 'minimum' order.

So....books sell out, during the process, which is the chance I take. I understand that.

Anyway, I got to the minimum two days before the turn, and then -- bam! It went up about a third. So I checked, and they had raised the minimum order on about 25 books from one to two.

When I eliminated those books, I was all the way down to 2/3rds the minimum again.

I go back the next day, and suddenly I'm at half the minimum.

I deleted the order.

Thing is, this site had been borderline in satisfaction for some time. (Don't like the condition of some of them.) And I've been needing to cut orders slightly.

So they made it an easy decision. I'm probably done with them, for the time being. Maybe I'll cherry pick in about six months.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just write the damn book.

This week was supposed to be my big start to the 2nd draft, but I kind of froze. I started letting outside considerations enter my thinking.

Will people like this?

Am I prepared for people not liking this?

Is this a manuscript that I would send off to a publisher?

And so on.

In the end, none of those questions are pertinent. I'm writing the book I'm writing. I'm not sending it off to a publisher.

So I just need to write through the doubts and finish the book.

Reading as Escapism

I read for the fun of it.

What's fun for me are well-written genre books. With the occasional seasoning of non-fiction.

I've been keeping up a list of the books I've read since 1982 in a blank notebook, which is nearly full. It was really useful in that first decade or so; I could refer to it whenever I was in doubt. Over the last decade, not so much. I have to go through pages and pages, and even with the publishing date, it's a bit of a pain trying to figure out if I've read something. So I read mostly newer books.

My lowest total was in 1991. 20 books read. That was just before the big sports card crash. I had four stores, and I was very, very busy.

My highest total was in 1998: 85 books read.

I seem mostly to read between 40 and 60 books a year.

Last year, I read 60.

Anyway, something that becomes very noticeable is that I actually read much more in the stressful years. When business was bad, or declining.

My worst years, as far as stress and debt and just hanging on were concerned, were between 1992 and 2001; I averaged 65 books a year.

My busy years, 1984-1991 and 2002 and 2009, I averaged 36 books a year.

What's clear, is I bury my head in books when I'm stressed out.

Not to mention the decade that I suffered depression. I'm pretty sure that I was reading well over 100 books a year back then. There was one year where I remember reading a book every day or two.

It was all I could do.

And thank god for that....books probably saved me.

I'm smarter than the Fed.

Apparently. That's not saying much.

Read the New York Times article: "Fed was Slow to Connect Dots on Housing Crisis" ... and weep. Turns out the Fed was even more clueless about the Housing Bubble than we thought at the time. These transcripts have become available after 5 years, so ignore everything they said they were thinking and read what they were really thinking.

Over the course of the housing bubble, I spent most of my profits on inventory and or paying down the debt. I knew that there was going to be an implosion, I knew that that implosion was going to impact the economy.

All I needed to do was look at my regular subscription comic customers and count up how many of them were employed in some aspect of the housing business to know it was trouble.

When Bear Stearns ran into trouble, I immediately pulled back on my expansion plans. I immediately assumed that the anticipated recession would soon start. (It actually pretty much began that month for me.)

According the N.Y.T.'s article, the Fed didn't think the Housing Bubble would affect the overall economy. In fact, they thought it would be GOOD for us.

If you really want to be frightened by our future, just read all the comments by Tim Geithner, (who seems to me to be Obama's Donald Rumsfeld -- a complete incompetent who keeps getting promoted.)

In fact, I'll go ahead and reproduce those comments in all their horrid glory:

"We think the fundamentals of the expansion going forward still look good." December, 2006. Timothy Geithner, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

"We just don't see troubling signs yet of collateral damage, and we are not expecting much." September, 2007.

About Alan Greenspan: "I'd like the record to show that I think you're pretty terrific, too. And thinking in terms of probabilities, I think the risk that we decide in the future that you're even better than we think is higher than the alternative."

What a mouthful of obsequious gibberish!

Our Treasury Secretary, ladies and gentlemen!

Now....don't you feel secure, just all warm and fuzzy, in our Greenspan granted, Geithner graced future?

Monday, January 16, 2012

2011 Pegasus Books results.

We ended the year at 5% over 2010.


However, we were 10% down in the first half of the year and up 16.5% in the second half.
Six months of better than last year sales, July through December.

I'm not going to feel the recession is over until we not only beat last year, but we beat a positive month from last year. So far, every time we've seen an increase, it was over a decreased month. So, if I can string 10 out of 12 months where we not only beat last year, but we beat months where we beat the year before that -- then I'll believe we're on the upswing.

The biggest increase was card game sales. 53%. My two competitors both took a bite out of my sales in the last 3 or 4 years, but we seemed to regain some ground last year. I just tried to be steady and have the product available at all times. Plus, Magic just seems to be having a resurgence.

Games (boardgames and rpg's) were up 7% for the year, but the second half was pretty big.
Same with new books -- they were up 10%, with the emphasis on the second half of the year.

Toys were down, 16%.

Comics were down 6.5%. The New 52 kept it from being worse that. I was able to restock or newly stock a ton of graphic novels which should hold us in good stead. I'm going to save several hundred dollars a month in a better discount rate -- and that on top of saving several hundred on shipping costs. Add in, constantly jumping on any "sales" and I think this category will be stronger this year. (Comics and graphic novels.)

Graphic novels were up 2%. Some of this is bleeding into the New Book category, I believe. It still feels vibrant.

Sports cards and anime aren't significant movers in the store, anymore. I actually rededicated myself to restocking them this year, so I haven't given up.

Toys -- that's where my big push is going to be this year. Can't sell what you don't order, and over the last few years I was ordering pretty slim numbers of new toys -- except when they went on sale. So I've decided to get at least a couple of series of new toys every month and see what happens.

We matched 2009 sales in 2011.

So my goal would be to match 2008 sales in 2012. A 10% increase, which is a lot.

And then, the biggest year on record -- 2007 sales in 2013 or 2014.

Then we'd be back to square one....Mr. Greenspan.

Sunday T.V. is the Bee's Knee's.

I've stuck with Hell On Wheels, mostly cause I really like the whole western thing. I spent my youth watching just about every western on T.V. (Except ironically Gunsmoke and Bonanza -- my Dad was a reverse snob.)

I still think it's the most lackadaisical work crew in the history of labor.

They seem to have a real problem with trying to keep the characters workin' on the railroad, and yet having dramatic things happen to them.

Bohanon running from the law, the Swede being tarred and feathered. How they coming back?
Whatever they do, it's going to seem a little unlikely.


Am still loving the Good Wife. Kalinda -- everyone falls for Kalinda. (Boys and girls. This show has more girl/girl longing looks than I've ever seen.)

I had just read an article on Bitcoins, so at least I knew what they were talking about.


I watched The Firm, and you could tell they were trying for Good Wife vibe, but it didn't happen. They fell back too much on the old cliches. Won't be watching.


Downton Abbey is still totally addictive.


Most of my other shows seem to still be in the never/never land between re-runs, co-opting, and new shows. Which is really irritating.

Buy the stuff that sells, sell the stuff they buy.

So let's say you have a store full of stuff and it isn't selling.

What do you do?

Here's the kind of advice I imagine you would get if you threw that question out to world.

1.) Lower prices to sell more. Have a "Sale!"
2.) Advertise more. Let people know what you have.
3.) Promote more. Instead of spending money on ads, do it with events and other efforts.
4.) Provide more free service. Give them more for their money, expand your "Open" hours, give the customer free events and services.
5.) Move to a better location, a bigger location.

And so on.

In my opinion, all the above are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

If you have a store full of stuff that isn't selling, fill it with stuff that WILL sell. Stuff that people are willing to pay full price for. That will bring them in during normal hours. And that --if you carry it-- knowledge will be spread by word of mouth.

You don't have to get rid of what you have, but search for the product that will sell. I can almost guarantee you, there is something just around the corner, something tangential but not opposed to what you already sell, that might do better. Or-- if 3 product lines aren't enough-- add a 4th. And so on.

The problem probably isn't your service, or your prices, or any of the other things experts will tell you.

The problem is that you don't have product that people want enough to buy.

O.K. I know I've simplified it somewhat, but I'll stand by it. Do the math. If you need to sell to 1000 people, but what you sell only sells to 1%, and you have 90,000 population base, you will fail.

You need to have a product that sells to enough people that you can sell it. If you don't, then carry a diverse group of product that WILL sell to enough people.

I'm not saying it's easy, but having the right product is the best solution.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First the store, then the promotion.

I can see that I need to explain myself better on my assertion that "promotions" cannot save your business over the long run.

If you don't mind, I'm going to use the 80/20 rule for illustrative purposes.

I will make a bold statement -- that 80% of the customers who walk in your door have not been affected by your promotional efforts. Seriously. They've never heard your ad, they don't care that you had an author signing last week, they missed that newspaper article on you.

No, they are there because they are regulars, semi-regulars, browsers, tourists, whatever.

They look around your store and if you have something they want at a decent price they buy. Or not.

I'll take that even further. Of the 20% of the customers who walk in your door who HAVE been affected by your promotional efforts, 80% of them won't buy anything because of those efforts.

So what is that? 20% of 20% is about 4% of your sales.

Not insignificant, I suppose. You have to weigh the time, energy, money, space, and all the other elements that go into a promotion to decide if it's worth pursuing. If so, then go ahead by all means. As long as you know the payoff.

O.K. The 20/80 rule is convenient. So say you go crazy with promotions, and a full 30% of your customers are affected by your promotional efforts, and a full 30% of them will buy something. So 30% of 30% brings it up to 9% of your sales. Again, you've been promoting like crazy ("6000 author signings!) so you have to weigh the costs versus the results.

In my case, I'd say that less than 10% have ever heard any promotional efforts on my part, and almost none of them will buy just because they read a story in the Bulletin or read my blog or whatever.

This is NOT the impression you get reading stories about retail. You'd think that promotional efforts are the most important part of being in business. Image is everything, according to this way of thinking.

But I think it's putting the cart before the horse. It's the equivalent of the Dress for Success. Or driving a fancy car to prove to your clients how successful you are.

I think true successes get there by being efficient and hardworking and honest and experienced and -- on and on.

Otherwise, you're just an empty suit. A nice empty suit, in a nice, debt-ridden car.

It seems to me that most of the stories about business I read are about "image". Almost all the business blogs I see are about "image": how to market yourself online, or with advertising and all that.

And I'm saying it just way too overblown. To the effect that it attracts people who buy that entire message and they are simply unprepared to run a real business. They want to have a successful image without putting in the fundamentals to make it a successful business. And they think they get there by promoting, burnishing their image, joining the clubs, dressing nice --whatever.

Again, most of my customers have never read my blog, or seen an article in paper. I've spent thousands of dollars on advertising before, and had a 1% hit rate when I ask people in the door. I've had months, even years, of a fad driven clientele -- way beyond my normal numbers of customers -- who then disappeared when the fad was over.

So promote your store by all means. Just don't mistake that for success.

Sunday suds.

We put Panga, our cat, on a bit of diet.

The other night, she tried to jump onto my lap and she didn't make it. She seemed really embarrassed by it -- I mean, she acted like it was no big deal but you could see it was. She is 16 pounds currently, and has been as high as 18 pounds.

We're giving her a tiny third of a small can of wet food in the morning, a quarter cup of dry food around dinner, and then about half a cup of dry food before bed.

Doesn't seem like much, does it?

But we really weren't feeding her much more than that, anyway...

If this doesn't work, I'm going to see if I can't get Linda to agree to leave her in our enclosed backyard during the day while we are at work. See if she can't shiver away a few pounds.


Had a young guy come in yesterday and introduce himself and tell me he's been looking "everywhere" for Icetowers. For "years."

Icetowers is the sequel and conclusion to Snowcastles, and my guess is that it never got as wide a distribution as Star Axe or Snowcastles.

Anyway, I did my usual, "Probably have to buy it off the internet" but I could see he was living close to street level, so that wasn't helpful.

Here's the thing. He seemed to be genuinely enthusiastic about Snowcastles -- I mean, you can tell when someone really, really likes something and he did. He went on about it, why it was good and all.

So I gave him my store copy of Icetowers (my visual proof that I actually wrote it.)

This has happened a half a dozen times over the years -- people I don't know seeming to really like one of my books, and it is obviously most gratifying.


I'm stuck on my book. I thought I might have had an elegant solution yesterday, but after sleeping on it, I decided that probably wouldn't work.

I think I'm just going to have to do some heavy rewriting, despite all my efforts to avoid such a thing.

But first, I have to figure out the organization of the rewrite, and that's something I just want to be sure about for I start.

So I'm sort of in limbo.

Once I start the second draft, it probably won't take all that long. Then ... depending on how it comes out, a third draft?

Oh, why did I start this?!


I think a lot of us bubble busters thought there might be a surge in property crimes when the Great Recession started.

Instead, there seems to be arson fires just about every day.

What's going on? Is this just Bend, or is it some kind of recession pathology?


My sleep patterns are still off. Not getting to sleep before 2:00 or later, and waking up at least an hour late, and still feeling groggy. Makes it harder to get my blog out in the morning.

With the daylight savings shift jumping an hour forward, this is only going to get worse.

Ah, well. This too shall pass.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Arguing against the obvious.

Having book signings and events is good for business. Obvious, right?

Not to me.

A couple of recent articles caught my attention.

The first deals with the storied Kepler Books in Menlo Park, California, which was saved back in 2005 by a consortium of book-loving investors. The owner is retiring, and they are talking about making it a non-profit bookstore. (I've made my opinion about that kind of thing known -- get out of the way and let someone make a living!)

Anyway, this statement caught my attention:

"In the past seven years Kepler estimated that the store has sold two million books, held 3,000 author events, collected $3 million in sales tax and donated $200,000 to schools and nonprofits. Still, it is barely breaking even."

3000 author events = barely breaking even.

No correlation, you say? Maybe it would be worse without the events?

Maybe, but I browse books sites every day, and there is funny common characteristic to bookstores that go out of business -- many of them hosted multiple author events. (That, and they sell online -- another supposed savior of bookstores.) They all act surprised that it didn't work.

The second statement comes out of an article that is actually addressing the problem of Amazon versus independent bookstores. It's written by a publisher (strange how that keeps happening, too. The publishers and authors and customers and just about everyone else things it's a grand idea!) "Independent Bookstores: How to compete with Amazon." Huffington Post.

He uses as an example, a bookstore in Boston, which he says he got started down the path toward 'events.'

Two statements, actually. First:

"Perhaps only 10 or 15 of those 40 people actually bought books that night, but since then more and more poetry readings have been booked there..."

Notice how the second half of that sentence more or less assumes that results were better with more events. But the ONE event he mentions, let's average out his number of books sold (I'm betting he was being a bit on the high side, but...) to 12.5 books.

Average profit on a hardcover 12.5 books -- maybe 125.00. ($25.00 book times 12.5 times 40% markup.)

Whoo hoo! $125.00! Sorry I missed dinner, honey, but I just made 125.00!

(You might have done just as well by staying open the same extra hours. Eventually, unless you want to burn out, you have to have set hours --- which allow you to go home and have dinner with the family and go to a movie or whatever...)

Thing is -- every time I see ACTUAL numbers, they aren't impressive. (I've also held two events myself, and I sold almost nothing -- literally. A couple of comics, a single graphic novel....something like that.)

So that 125.00! Now subtract expanded time and space and employee hours, plus sales the store didn't make because everyone is listening to the author, plus probably refreshments (at least for the author) and whatever other costs it incurs.

The second statement is more in the way of, damning with faint praise:

"...since the push to have more events, their overall sales have improved too." This comes from the owner, who in the article is mentioned to have since jumped ship and moved to New York.

I'm sorry, "overall sales have improved too" is pretty vague. One or two books a day, ten more books a day? I'm guessing that if the sales had improved "dramatically" they would have used words to that effect.

Here again, I've actually talked to several bookstore owners who do events, and they are usually anything but enthused about actual events. They usually mutter that the events are a big huge hassle without much results.

So it comes down to -- events will bring in future customers...

Where have I heard that before?

Oh, yeah. Downtown street closures. Yet, I have about 30 years experience with downtown street closures and I simply don't buy the "future" customer argument.

It's obvious, sure. Obvious to everyone.

But -- I think -- it's also wrong.

What's sad is -- it has become so much the accepted wisdom, that just about every bookstore will start doing it.

And then be surprised when they go out of business.

If you want to host events because you like it, or because you want to provide a community service -- fine. I'm sure there is a plus factor (minus all the negatives, but still a small plus). What I'm saying is;

It isn't what will keep you in business. Being a good bookstore is what will keep you in business, not being an event center.

Try not to confuse the two things.

And remember, the above examples were actually provided by the Proponents of the idea of events, and even the numbers they provided pretty much sucked.

O.K.............I'm ready for everyone to disagree with me. :/

The Gordian Book-knot.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening transferring my book into the Scrivener program.

I couldn't find a simple, easy but totally necessary first step and flailed around for a couple hours. Linda came home and listened to my blustering frustration for awhile, and then figured it out. A simple thing that seemed utterly unintuitive to me.

I think the problem I have with lots of computer stuff is that I can't see the forest for the trees -- that I want a few simple things, and they give me hundreds or thousands of options.

Anyway, I finally got the book into the program -- in roughly the format I want.

However, it seems like a bit of an unwieldy mess, right now. It goes from A to G to B to F to M to C to....something like that.

I think I need to work out the organization of it before I start doing the second draft.

The actually sitting down and writing I don't think will take that long.

This may seem like a lame example, but when I was in college, I'd often assemble the elements of term paper without being sure what the final form would be -- and I'd worry about it for awhile, but almost always it would come together in the end.

I need to immerse myself in it, struggle with it, and eventually it will take shape. I hope.

I ended up with 26 chapters, and about 68,500 words, which is actually bigger than I thought. It's maybe already big enough for an e-book, especially if we add visual and illustrative elements as we intend. I want it to be a "fast" read.

I usually add when I rewrite, so it may very well end up the size of, say, Star Axe, which for a fantasy wasn't a large book, but large enough to tell the story. Besides, personally I'm kind of tired of overblown fantasies.

I wish I wrote in more tidy way -- but that's just not the way of it. My creative impulses aren't tidy.

I'm just going to thrash out the structure this weekend and see if I can't find a way to get it all to fit.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Love the book, hate the writer.

I'm really having trouble with Stephen Hunter. I love his books. He's a terrific storyteller. Addictive, propulsive action.

And he's a ginormous asshole.

He first offended me in his opinions of the pop culture trends that are my very break and butter -- and my first love. Science fiction and comics -- he pretty much dissed them on a regular basis as the film reviewer for The Washington Post.

O.K. I could overlook that. He's just ignorant.

But not...his last three books have gotten progressively more loony tune right wing batshit crazy. The book I'm reading now is so offensive, I can barely overlook it the bullshit.

The story is great, and then he'll do some transparently offensive caricature of Obama-- or any other liberal-- that I have to gulp and keep reading.

It's funny when you see people go off the rails. I'm guessing he started watching Fox News or listening to right wing radio. Ugh.

If only he wasn't such a good writer! It didn't matter to me that Clancy was a simply minded twit, because he is also a lousy writer.

I think this may be the last Hunter book I read. I can't get over his self-righteous smugness.

Whoopee! 0.1% rise in sales.

"Retail Sales Rise Scant 0.1%." Bulletin, 1/13/12.

So much for all the predictions. What about all the news stories that we were bombarded with throughout the season about how sales were great, great, great!


Meanwhile, the media was also full of stories about how stores were discounting, discounting, discounting!

So .... lower margin, with next to nothing increase in sales = lower profits.

The mass market stores have created a very stupid environment -- training the customers to wait for the last minute, and only to buy if it's hugely discounted.

I've been ignoring the whole nonsense for years now. I stock up the store, keep it stocked throughout the season, and sell everything for regular price. So, you know, I actually make money.

Sales in my store were up 20%, and I sold everything at retail price.

These giant stores really are dinosaurs, with huge appetites and tiny brains.

It is called a "Perp Walk."

Dear Ms. Sawyer,

It's called a Perp Walk, and you are not the first nor the last the suffer the indignity of it.

Wiki: "PERP WALK is a common custom of American law enforcement, the practice of taking an arrested suspect through a public place at some point after the arrest..."

Notice the words "common."

From my reading of mysteries, it's done for a variety of reasons. The shake the defendant so they might be more malable in questioning. Or to make an example of someone. Nothing like a fellow stockbroker or mortgage agent being hauled out of the office in front of other stockbrokers to make a point. Which happens all the time, right? Right? ......uh.......right?

I'll say no more, since she seems to sue anyone who mentions her name in public.

"Executive Director of Business Development."

Something I've noticed is, that occasionally a corporation will hire an entrepreneur to give itself some sort of boost.

And it almost always ends badly.

Turns out, the independent businessman can't operate in the bureaucracy . He's neutered and marginalized. The bureaucracy won't change no matter how it is pushed.

Seems to be the norm.

Same goes for creative people -- some manage to thrive in the bigger organization, but most flail around. (Insert story of Faulkner, Fitzgerald or Chandler in Hollywood.)

Anyway, Diamond Comics has hired a longtime comic person, Chris Powell, for the job of promoting specialty shops. With an apparent emphasis on creating new stores.

Normally, I'd be skeptical of the success of such a venture. But there are several factors that seem hopeful.

First, it's a new position, so he's not trying to work himself into an existing model. He's been given a blank slate.

Secondly, Chris Powell has shown he's capable in a variety of situations -- Comic's Pro, and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Third, he's a constant presence on The Comic Book Industry Alliance forum, and seems to have his head screwed on right. I don't personally know him, but he seems very sensible.

Fourth, he was never the owner of the stores he managed (Lone Star Comics), but has been working for an owner. Which gives him some experience at dealing with higher ups.

So this could be a really great thing for the industry. What's probably holding us up from growth the most is the lack of venues for comics books. The comics are great, but most people just don't know it.

However, I couldn't quite shake a small bit of apprehension. Will he be able to create new comic stores in such a way as to not hurt existing stores? Without creating unnecessary competition?

What I've seen is, people seem to want ignore previously unserved populations areas, to congregate around population areas that seem to have successful stores. In other words, they want to follow the example of the stores they actually see, instead of envisioning store where they aren't.

So that's going to be tricky.

Still -- it's one of those moves that actually seems to make all kinds of sense for everyone involved. In fact, I'd say there is a danger of expecting too much. It's nice that Diamond is actually focusing on Brick and Mortars in a Digital world. (Of course, that's their business -- but then again, I think it's the publisher's business too, and they are pushing willy nilly into digital...)

It will be interesting to watch.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

#*(^%(&* Insomnia!

Business has gotten slow in the last week.

We are back to straight math again. Numbers of people who live here, plus numbers of people visiting, minus people who don't come in the store, minus the people who don't spend money in my store.

Something like that. No matter how you add or subtract, you just aren't going to do all that well this time of year. It's just the price you pay for being in a tourist town.


I was feeling pretty confident about the book, but it is also getting hard to fit together. Like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces don't fit.

I took a newly written second chapter to writer's group and they picked it apart and they were mostly right, I think.

It's almost as though I need to start over from the beginning, using what I now know about the book. The stuff I only learned about by actually writing the book.


For the first time in five years, I've had trouble getting this blog out in the morning. Because I've been having trouble falling asleep.

Not sure what's going on there, but I've lost a full hour in the morning as a result.

Anyway, last night I started brainstorming the book, and that's never a good idea. Back in the day when I was writing full time, I got really good at saying to my subconscious -- "Great. Hold onto the idea. Now shut up."

But last night it just kept coming at me, fully formed sentences and ideas. I didn't get up to write them down, which I may regret, but I think I've got the gist of it.


I'm thinking if I mull it over long enough, I'll come up with some solutions on the story problems. I like the story, the background, the characters -- I'm just having trouble fitting it together.


It's 10:15, I still need to shower and make breakfast the newspaper is on the driveway and I haven't made a circuit of the intertubenet and I have to leave in half an hour. I feel rushed and flushed and groggy.

I hate insomnia.

Fortunately, I don't get it very often.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The past becomes nearer.

I was watching a documentary on the great cinematographer, Jack Cardiff. It was interesting, enough. But what really caught my attention was how the man's career went from the silent era right through to a couple of years ago. He died at 94.

He was the camera man for The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus. But also for Rambo. It's obvious from the interviews, that into his 90's he was still on top of things.

I don't know -- it just changes my entire perspective of cinema. How relatively new it really is.

If you've seen Hugo, it seems like a quaint bygone era -- and yet, here was the guy who filmed Rambo, also was already well into having a career at that time.

As I get older, a strange thing happens. Things from farther ago, become nearer. Things that seemed like ancient history when I was young, now seem like the recent past. I was born only 7 years after WWII, and yet through my entire childhood it seemed like something from long ago, when people were different, and they acted and dressed funny.

Yet, Star Wars seems almost like yesterday for me. I was in college went it came out. But -- it's far, far more distant now, than say Kennedy's assassination was when that movie came out.

Anyway, any of you longer-in-the-tooth people know what I'm talking about, but younger folk won't give it a moment's thought.

Nor should they.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Inked stained scrivener. Virtual, that is.

Jared came over last night and helped me with the Scrivener writing program upon which I'm going to write the second draft.

I sort of insisted that it look like a manuscript, which is what I am used to working with. That turned out to be a bit more a problem that it first appeared, but I now have something recognizable to work on. Indented, double spaced.

I'm going to be entering all the material today, and I'll soon know how many words I've already written.

I'm being more deliberative in this writing this book than I've ever been before. I'm pretty sure that, in the past, I probably would've just taken what I already have written and tried to dish it out. Rushed it into final form.

Instead, I'm holding off. I'm trying to fill in the cracks before I do that, give it time to gestate, let new ideas come up.

Of course, deliberative can just be another word for lazy.

I feel lazy, even though I'm about to finish a book. I feel like I should be working harder.

At the same time, I don't want it to lose the freshness.

Even though I say that I'm usually in too much of a hurry, at the same time, I've also overcooked some parts of my books in the past -- which is what makes me want them finished.

So I'm trying to take the time to keep it fresh but also do the necessary things. Work deliberately, but without too much laziness. It's a fine balance.

I love the initial process -- but I know that comes more in the form of a sketch instead of a finished book. I don't much enjoy as much the process of turning it into a more solid form.

"I like being able to fire people."

"I like being able to fire people." Romney.

Here's the thing.

No matter what he meant by it.

I can't EVER imagine using that particular combination of words.


So that he was able to say, "I like being able to fire people." ?

That to me just means that deep inside he means, "I like being able to fire people."


Is it just me, or are there a lot more arson fires going on in Central Oregon than is normal? A lot more.

Copy cats?


I'm sure there will be plenty of critics of the handling of the Cessna site.

But it does seem a little stupid to lay aside a guaranteed revenue stream for a "promise" of more jobs. Plus the possibility that they might get another, better deal. (Unmentioned is, they already have one business in place and wouldn't it make more sense to entice a second business?) Like the promise of destination resorts that they'll eventually get around to building The Hotel, promises of future jobs seem pretty shaky. (We planned to hire 75 more people, but -- you know -- the economy....)

Anyway, I think sometimes that our local governments give away too much to attract business, which then sticks around for a couple of years and crashes. Yes, Redmond and Prineville seem to offer better deals -- but I wonder if they have less to lose?

I've said it before -- if people really want to move to Bend and they have the financial ability to do so -- then they will. Bribing them makes me wonder how much they are really interested in coming here.


Wow. A huge article on Dungeons and Dragons in the Bulletin this morning.

As long as it was, though, it left out some crucial history.

D & D has always had the problem of -- once you sell the basic rules, what do you sell after that? Sure, you can sell packaged adventures and supplements, but the basic rules are all you really need, and since D & D players are individualistic enough to play the game in the first place, they usually end up creating their own adventures.

So...once they buy the main books, they're done.

It became kind of obvious that the company would periodically "update" the rules just to get that revenue stream going again.

There is a new role-playing game, called Pathfinder, who seems to be doing what D & D should have done. Come up with a nice functional system, and sticking to it. They are a much smaller company, and don't have the corporate expectations.

There was a pretty strong rejection of D & D 4.0; after nearly universal acceptance of 3.0 and 3.5. (Sure there are people who want the "original rules" but they are like people who never buy anything anyway.)

The "original rules" were almost immediately messed up by TSR, the company that owned D & D before Wizards of the Coast bought it (which in turn was gobbled up by Hasbro.) Because of not wanting to pay royalties, they changed the name to "Advanced" D & D, and confusion has reigned ever since.

In other words, the damn license has been mismanaged from the beginning.

So for 5.0, Hasbro is asking for input from the fan community. Good luck with that.

Back to 4.0. This was a kind of misguided attempt to become more friendly to the video gaming community. But the appeal of D & D is that it ISN'T a video game.

I've been getting more and more requests for the 3.5 version, but this only exists as a used game, and I don't buy used games.

I carry one copy at all times of the main books -- Dungeon Masters Guide I and II; Players Handbooks I, II, and III; Monster Manual I, II, III, and so on, so when they become obsolete, I won't have too much inventory to try to get rid of.

Still, I do hope they do a good job with 5.0 and ....just stick with it, dammit!

Monday, January 9, 2012

For profit non-profits...or non-profit profits. Common Table.

I can't resist commenting on the Common Table troubles, as detailed in the column in the Bulletin today.

There are a couple of points that seem to come up again and again, in Bend (and in this blog.)

First, that something that "works" elsewhere doesn't work in Bend. According to the story, all but one of the 18 other "non-profit" restaurants were in more populous areas.

Well, there you go. It won't be the first time that Bend tried to act like it was as big as elsewhere.

But more than that, Bend is different. I really believe that. We have strange demographics....

I've explicated that I think it's because of our relative isolation. We don't really have another metro area for at least 130 miles, over the High Cascades. We don't 'really' have a 4 year college. We are isolated by the fact we aren't connected to an Interstate -- the same 130 mile distance. I think, as well, we don't have a whole lot of strong industry here -- we are a retirement and tourist destination. I think second-home and retired people and tourists act differently overall than long-term residents. Oldtimers act differently than newcomers.

Truth is, though, I don't really know why Bend is so different. I just know, when I compare it with the experiences of other towns, we always seem a little ...off.

Secondly, I just don't believe that mixing profit and non-profit works well together. Whether it's a profit store that asks for non-profit contributions or volunteers or a non-profit store that tries to turn a profit. In the first case -- well, that's kind of scuzzy. In the second case -- well, doesn't seem cost effective.

Other -- true -- non-profits can make meals for the cost of 1.00, according to the article. So, I'd have to say, the money stretches quite a bit further, without blurring the goal.

So it comes down to the experience of the poor sitting down next to the rich. I'm not sure why this can't happen any old time. Just head on down to Drake Park, and strike up a conversation. In fact, it probably happens every day at McDonalds. Or even more often, at the public library. It seems like a "do-gooder" idea to me, but one that doesn't have a lot of long term viability.

Unless a bunch of you are doing this on a regular basis? I'd be more than glad to be wrong about this.

I mean, if it works --- great.

But it it doesn't work -- you have to wonder how many meals could be distributed for the same cost.

Christmas results.

December sales were up by 19% over last year. It was the second best Christmas on record, eclipsed only by 2006. It beat 2007 by a little bit.

(2008 pretty much sucked, and 2009 and 2010 were static.)

Sounds very impressive, except that I more or less spent that 19% extra on product, so the profits were probably actually down a little bit.

This was a tradeoff, for me. An active business atmosphere, following up what strengths I have, pursuing the areas where I feel that the competition is weak. I mean, the profits are encased in the inventory, so you could actually say I made more profit -- but it just isn't the same as liquid assets. Still, I have a packed store which means I won't have to spend all spring just trying to catch up again.

These kinds of decisions are the very essence of running a small business; the kind of decisions where even in hindsight you can't be sure you made the right choice. I do know, it was the best of all results from the actual decision. I could easily have spent the money and not gotten the increased sales, for instance.

As I mentioned before, boardgames actually beat comic sales, for the first time. Totally seasonal.
Books actually beat graphic novels, equally seasonal.

I've finally got the three-legged store I've been trying to reach all these year. About 35% games and books; 40% comics and graphic novels; 25% everything else. (yearly.)

The results, compared to Christmas 2010.

+7% Comics
-7% Cards
+53% Card Games
+7% Games
+10% Books
-16% Toys
+2% Graphic Novels.

Card Games have recovered from the impact of two new competitors. It's possible that they've rejuvenated the market enough that I'm seeing an increase because of that. These sales levels are where they were before the two other guys opened.

Toys are a tough sell these days. They seem to be impacted by the recession spending more than any other category. Nevertheless, I'm going to concentrate on trying to get a boost out of them this year.

Books and Games are still increasing, albeit not as fast as the first few years.

Comics and graphic novels seem in good shape.

Sports cards are pretty steady, pretty low, but not totally inconsequential.

I've dropped anime as a category and I'm going to ring them up under toys. I've replaced it with Used books, so I'll know how many used versus new books I'm selling.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with it.

Downtown Comings and Goings. 1/9/12.

All right. I feel somewhat compelled to do this list again,
because of the Downtowner's press release which you can find
on KTVZ.

Most of the "new" businesses they list aren't actually new. Some
are expansions, and several are simple lateral moves. The only
new business I could see was the Solar Power business and I decided
it doesn't my perimeters of retail. ("information and consultation")

Lotus Moon is actually losing a storefront and moving into Tres
Jolie. By my definitions, that is a lost space...so I'm listing it as
"leaving" with a note that it has moved.

Game Domain has moved into a smaller space below in the downstairs
of the Penny's Galleria, so they've lost their street front space but I'm
keeping them on the list.

Brother Jon's has named their new restaurant: The Ale House,
so I'm changing that name below.

The Dog Patch seems to be definitely leaving. And Bend
Mapping and Blueprinting is moving out of downtown to

So by my definitions, we've actually lost three or four
spaces -- and the occupancy rate of 92% would imply maybe one
or two more that I haven't discovered.


The Ale House, Bond St., 12/10/11.
What Lola Wants, Wall St. , 12/2/11.
Jackalope Grill, 10/12/11.
Gypsy Soul, Wall St. 10/12/11.
Colour N' the City, Tin Pan Alley, 10/12/11.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St., 10/12/11.
The Lobby, Bond St. , 10/12/11.
Ruby, Minnesota Ave., 10, 12/11.
Kariella, Lava Road, 8/24, 11.
Plankers, Wall St., 7/11.
Faveur, Franklin, 7/11.
Dream Pebbles, Minnesota Ave., 6/15/11.
Bend Yogurt Factory, Franklin/Bond, 4/26/11.
High Desert Lotus, Bond St. , 4/4/11.
Tryst, Franklin Ave., 3/11/11. (Formerly Maryjanes, **Moved**).
D'Vine, Wall St. , 2/9/11.
Let it Ride!, Bond St., 1/29/11.
Gatsby's Brasserie Bar, Minnesota Ave., 1/8/11
Tres Jolie, Wall St., 12/20/10.
Caldera Grill, Bond St., 12/7/10
Bond Street Grill, 12/7/10.
Perspective(s), Minnesota Ave., 11/20/10
Toth Art Collective, Bond St. 11/20/10
Boken, Breezeway, 11/20/10
Dalia and Emilia, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Antiquarian Books, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Giddyup, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/10.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Ave., 8/11/10,
Red Chair Art Gallery, Oregon Ave. 7/13/10.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 7/12/10.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 6/2910
Common Table, Oregon Ave. , 6/29/10.
Looney Bean Coffee, Brooks St. , 6/29/10.
Bourbon Street, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
Feather's Edge, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
The BLVD., Wall St. , 6/13/10.
Volt, Minnesota Ave. 6/1/10.
Tart, Minnesota Ave. , 5/13/10
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 Ave., 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 Ave. 1/10/10
Tew Boots Gallery, Bond St. 1/8/10.
Top Leaf Mate, 12/10/09
Laughing Girls Studio, Minnesota Ave. 12/7/09
Lemon Drop, 5 Minnesota Ave., 11/12/09
The Curiosity Shoppe, 25 N.W. Minnesota Ave, Suite #7. 11/5/09
Wabi Sabi 11/4/09 (**Moved, Wall St.**)
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

(List begun, Fall, 2008.)


The Dog Patch, Minnesota Av. 1/9/12.
Bend Mapping, Bond St., 1/9/12.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St. 1/9/12 (Moving into Tres Jolie)
Bond Street Grill, Bond St., 11/20/12.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 10/11.
Azu, Wall St., 10/25/11.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Av., 10/11.
Bourbon St., Minnesota Ave. 10/12/11.
Curiosity Shop, Minnesota Ave., 7/11
Luluemon, Bond St., 8/26, 11.
Shear Illusions, Franklin Ave., 7/11.
Crepe Place, Wall St., 7/11.
Pita Pit, Brooks St. , 6/28/11
Smith and Wade Salon, Minnesota, Av. , 6/3/11.
Perspectives, Minnesota Av., 6/1/11
River Bend Art Gallery, Bond St., 5/5/11.
Donner's Flowers, Wall St. 3/11/11. (**Moved out of downtown**)
Maryjanes, Wall St. , 3/11/11. (new name, Tryst, moved to Franklin.).
Di Lusso, Franklin/Bond, 2/9/11.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 1/2/11
Marz Bistro, Minnesota Av., 12/20/10.
The Decoy, Bond St., 12/7/10.
Giuseppe's, Bond St., 12/1/10.
Ina Louise, Minnesota Ave., 11/3/10.
Laughing Girl Studios, 10/21/10
Dolce Vita, Bond St, 10/21/10
Diana's Jewell Box, Minnesota Ave., 10/15/10.
Lola's, Breezeway, 10/8/10.
Oxygen Tattoo, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Great Outdoor Clothing, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Volcano Vineyards, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
Subway Sandwiches, Bond St. 9/2/10.
Old Bend Distillery, Brooks St., 6/19/10.
Staccato, Minnesota Ave. 6/18/10.
Showcase Hats, Minnesota Ave., 6/1/10 (Moved to Oregon Ave., 8/10/11.)
Cork, Oregon Ave., 5/27/10.
Wall Street Gifts, 5/26/10
Microsphere, Wall St. , 5/17/10.
Singing Sparrow, Franklin and Bond, 5/15/10
28, Minnesota Ave. and Bond, 5/13/10.
Glass Symphony, Wall St., 3/25/10
Bend Home Hardware, Minnesota 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

(List begun, Fall 2008.)