Friday, September 24, 2021

I keep dreaming at night of expanding the store. Not sure if these are meant to be nightmares or not. Heh.

Thing is, things are going well enough that a younger and more foolish replicant of me could easily fall into that trap.

What it means is, I'm fully involved in the store. At the same time, the transition out of the store is in the works. I'm realizing that I need to prepare for that day, both so that the store survives without me and for my own state of mind when I don't have the store to think about all the time. 

I was reproducing stats for Sabrina to use and I realized how much less revenue we were producing just three or four years ago. It's really quite astounding how new books have elevated things--just as a new wave of customers are coming in the store. 

I was able to use some of that new revenue to resuscitate toys and card games, both of which are doing much better. We're holding our own on games, despite the dramatic increase in competition and complexity. 

Comics are having one of their periodic upheavals, but we're OK. Graphic novels are humming along at higher levels. 

So all in all, the store is in the best shape it's ever been and I'm slowly but surely increasing the quality of the product. 

What I'm saying is--I'm as involved and interested as I've ever been--at the same time I know I need to prepare to let it go. 


Sunday, September 12, 2021

Give me some of that old-timey twang.

I discovered long ago that I can play just about every kind of music at my store. I've even played Opera music without people raising their eyebrows. The one kind of music I can't play without complaints is Country-Western.

I've always like some country-western music, but I always thought I kinda hated the "Nashville Sound" of the 60's and 70's: the "twang" singers. I liked Charlie Rich back in the day; the closest I got to that kind of music, and always loved Country-rock and Bluegass, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. T-Bone Burnett, Don Williams, Mark Chesnutt, Dixie Chicks, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Alison Krauss, and (especially) Dwight Yoakam.

Johnny Cash is pretty hard to ignore.

But singers like George Jones and (dear god) Tammy Wynette?

Turns out, I love them. I've been listening to the podcast "Cocaine and Rhinestones," which this season revolves around George Jones, and I can't get enough of that music. Damn, I just didn't know.

I mean, I'm familiar with a lot of it. Apparently I heard more of it as a kid than I thought I did. A lot of it crossed over into pop territory, or at least versions of it did. And some of the songs are undeniable masterpieces, standards that fit in with the best of American music. 

I've always had a soft spot for country-western, but falling in love with the most twangy music out there is somewhat unexpected.

I have to wonder if it's a function of age. Certainly, I have no fondness for the current "bro-western" I hear. The further back I go, the more I like it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Meet the neighbors.

Went to a block barbecue yesterday--well, I missed the barbecue because of work, but came in at the tail end to meet the new neighbors. We're all pretty new to the cul de sac, really. Linda and I have been here for 3 years, 5 of our neighbors are newer than that, with about 3 old timers and 1 renter. The block is now completely built in. 

The new house across the street apparently has been sold for an outrageous amount of money! Yea? If I divide the square footage, it would indicate our house is worth 40% more! Of course, that is all good and well, but if we sold we'd have to find another house for about the same price, right? Heh. As I say to Linda, "It just means the kids will be able to put us in a nicer nursing home when the time comes."

Anyway, all but two of the newer folk showed up, (one seems to be out of town, the other has been a bit standoffish since they moved in). One of the old-timers hosted the event: you know, the guy everyone gets to know because he's so friendly, and two of the old-timers ignored it. Which is consistent with how they've been since we moved in.

I swore that this time I would get to know my neighbors. We don't plan on moving anywhere.

There was a time when I would have avoided the event, but I've come around. I'm finally socialized, I guess. It took a long time--lots of exposure to people at the store, Linda's calm demeanor, and a little help from "mother's little helper" here and there. It was pleasant, and I do like to know who my neighbors are.

Of course, I forget everyone's name if more than a few days pass, so I've asked Linda to write down everyone's name, including pets, so I can study it. Weird, I know. I'm very much a recluse, but I'm trying.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Covid supply chain problems.

I have a saying, "If you have to explain something in more than one sentence, you've lost."

That said, I continue to try to explain to all the manga buyers about the supply chain problems, if only to make myself feel better.

"There are supply chain problems with manga, and it's mostly on the other end of the chain. It's very hard to get. It isn't available from anyone..."

"I just saw a stack of #1 "Chainsaw Man" at Barnes and Noble."

You're a liar, I think. "Go back and see if they are still there. They sell for $30 dollars on Ebay right now."

Kid shrugs, "I've already got #8."

"Uh, did you buy it online? Because I can sell unicorns online." 

Blank look. No one every seems to get what I'm getting to. If I offer them a unicorn online, they for some reason will believe it. Offer it in my store and they're going to say, "Can I see it?"

I turn my back on the kid. But he follows me and shows me his phone, "See? I'm getting it in December."

Long slow burn of a look. "I'm not talking about 5 months from now! I'm talking about now."

Here's the thing I've learned over the years. If you tell someone they can't get something, they don't just see this as advice, of trying to save them from multiple trips to multiple store on a fool's errand. They see it as a challenge. And almost inevitably they'll pull the exception out of their hat.

You can also draw a straight flush out of deal, it happens, but it's not something you bet on in advance. 

Still, they for some reasons seem to think I'm trying to keep them from getting what they want--from elsewhere. (Honestly,  could care less if they get it from elsewhere. More power to them. I'm just trying to warn them that the odds aren't good.)

Oh, well. It's their time and gas money. I really don't like my integrity and honesty challenged, and I really hate to have people think I'm inefficient or, worse, incompetent. I literally check the wholesalers every single day, which I suspect most store don't. 

Anyway, this is just a roundabout way of saying there are probably going to be more and more shortages in the long tail of distribution. I mean, it could clear up, but I suspect it's only beginning. There is a long lead time on these things.