Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cautiously Optimistic About Future Business

We're pulling out of a nosedive.
The economic downturn has been brutal, especially on a small business like ours. In January, we thought we were done: the shop was closed for three months and we had no expectations of ever opening again. The state tax bureau and health departments were notified that the place was no longer an entity, and we got a giant dumpster to fill.
We had a buyer, or thought we had a buyer, but the banks had other ideas, and it didn't work out for them. Our bank, PNC, gave us a breather those months we were closed with no mortgage payments of any kind. And looking back on it, we can see that that was our salvation. With virtually no expense associated with the place we got through a period of the year's cycle when overhead exceeds income. At the end of it we decided that since we didn't owe anyone anything, other than PNC, we had nothing to lose by opening on weekends. And it worked.
We did retail only, absolutely no wholesale for any reason. And with hindsight, we now realize that wholesale is what got us into a mess in the first place! Wholesale receipts were never enough to service the excess overhead necessary to accommodate wholesale production. It is extremely difficult to tease out exactly where overhead is being used; there are gas and electric bills for the month, not for the day, and if I were smarter I would have figured that out much sooner.  But we were busy and making money for years, until the economic downturn that is. And that is when this problem became an undefinable hemorrhaging of money.
We have slashed overhead by shutting down completely during the week and opening for retail only on the weekends, which is when we do most of our business.
So far so good. We are cautiously optimistic about the future.

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