Friday, April 22, 2011
A Small Piece of the New Economic Reality <~> Guilty Pleasures Lost & Found
That most of American Business chose to profit from this shift instead of prepare for it with new strategies does not leave me feeling any confidence that our mover and shakers have the country's interests at heart. American business has lived on short term policies to maximize profit now instead of long term planning that would have set them up to face the reality that the US is going to have to make room at the top. Because of their ham fisted efforts and self centered greed, they have probably ensured we won't be just making room at the top, we are going to be pushed off.
It is what it is and certainly out of my hands. All I can do is adjust to the new realities coming at me, or let them take me down.
There are a myriad, no, thousands of small realities forming that will change the dynamic of what is the US economy in the next 10 years. My reality is but one small part of it. I represent the small retail store trying to make it's way among the muscle bound chain stores and Internet Hydra. All my whinin, pissin and moanin is done. Fairness has nothing to do with it. I deal with it or I don't.
In retail, brick and mortar operations like mine had basic rules and goals that seemed to be shared across the board from one retailer to another. With the advent of the discount chain store and the rise of the Internet, all these rules have been tossed. Classic profit margins designed to cover fixed costs, cost of goods, payroll, and leave the owners with some jingle to save or play with have been shot in the ass. I used to aim for a store wide margin of 40%. I only remember hitting it one year back in the 1990s, but we had many years of 38% or so. Now I have to keep my doors open on 25% or less. That leaves precious little other than some coffee money and maybe a new pair a pants every 6 months.
But again, it is what it is. Rather than allow the Internet or the Chains low ball me out of existence, I am meeting them head on. It finally dawned on me that holding my price and not being flexible was just driving customers into their arms. 10% profit is a damn site better than no profit.
Okay, so I have finally come around. But the rules change here in mid-stream has me floundering some at the moment. I realize that in order to survive in the new economic reality, I have to have every phase of my operation under control. The margin of error has narrowed dramatically.
Which brings up Guilty Pleasures. Bear with me, there is a connection. I just need to re-locate it.
All this recent entrepreneurial intensity of mine has created a writer's block. It seems I have completely turned all the synapses still in existence to the chore of pulling my bike shop out of the hole. I have none left for my creative writing. As I write this now, I am experiencing serious guilt and remorse over the hour wasted not focusing on bike shop shit.
It was on the way to the bike shop yesterday that I realized how much I miss writing just for shits and giggles. I don't care what I write about, I just truly enjoy the effort of putting words together that make sense. That they sometimes do make sense is but icing on the cake. It is the process of creativity I am missing, not so much the finished product. Writing has become a substance abuse thing for me. I am seriously jones-ing here.
Riding my bike used to be a guilty pleasure. That seems to have changed over the last 20 years or so. At some point, I do not know when, riding went from an escape mechanism to a requirement of my job. Owning a bike shop and not riding is certainly possible. Matter of fact, many bike shop owners do not ride. But I felt obligated more and more to ride because of the business and less just for myself.
And now that gas is closing in hard on $4/gallon, I feel even more pressure to ride. Commuting by bike just twice a week will save me $8. Add in the health and fitness benefit and to not commute by bike when possible would be stupid. Unless of course my pockets suddenly got deeper. And last time I checked, they seemed to have shrunk.
Coming full circle here, I guess it just amuses me that no matter how priorities change, there is always that which you should do and that which you want to do. The trick is finding the balance point.
Next post - Alcohol and why I stopped being a tee-totaler. Or something else. It's certainly a crap shoot.
Keep it 'tween the ditches................................................................