This summer has been a tough one at the bikeshop. Come to think of it, all 7 seasons have been tough. Not a one has gone according to plan. The first 5 years I actually had a plan. The last 2, hanging on is about all I had in me. I have caught on that wingin it doesn't work either. I need a new plan. I need to find some new enthusiasm. Locate some more will.
Owning a small retail business in a small town is a challenge to be sure. As most are, I am undercapitalized, under educated, under pressure, and under many different thumbs. I rob Peter to pay Paul. I juggle cash flow like some clown at the circus. Daily I check the bank balance to figure out what I can spend that day. Then I give away product for a song just to make next month's rent and keep the lights on. And across this land, hundreds of thousands small businesses feel the same pain I do.
Why do we do it? What madness takes control and deludes us we have a snow ball's chance in Hell to go up against Walmart, Staples, K-mart, X-Mart, and Home Depot? All the pat answers can boost our optimism and fill us with confidence. But when we've been down 30% for 3 months, the pat answers are nowhere to be found. More like we's stupid, gluttons for punishment, truly masochistic. Or just too hard-headed and contrary to give up. So we plug away at the monster. Open the doors everyday, Sweep out the dust, and hope that "brand new day" is today.
This is how I felt about running the shop 2 weeks ago. 2 weeks ago I knew the summer was almost Fall and the big weeks were behind me. Today I sit here perplexed. In the last 2 weeks we have done about 10% of our total to date gross sales for the year. Go figure. Just about the time my spirits couldn't get any lower, a contrary sales wave takes hold and I hang ten. While the uptick is certainly welcome. I am also a bit unsettled about this unforseen boost. Since 9/11 any dependence on historical sales flows has been tossed out the window. Months that are supposed to be up are down and months that are supposed to be down are up. Sales predictions are useless exercises in futility.
So for now, I will just do what I have been. Hang in there, keep the lean and mean attitude and hunker down. But soon I have to figure out how to deal with this new market place. The internet offers opportunities and at the same time eats sharply into my profits. The out of control oil economy has everyone nervous, tense and uptight. The uncertain future dictates I find something different than SSDD.