Monday, April 6, 2009

Our Story So Far

It's been three days of the soft opening of Boswell Book Company and we're learning quickly what needs to be done.

1. Our hours need to be posted online. Since we're having trouble getting our web site up and running, I'll post it here. In my defense, we've done our application, but we have to wait until our training from the ABA (American Booksellers Association) on April 13th.

Monday through Saturday, opening at 10 AM and closing at 9 PM
Sunday, opening at 11 AM and closing at 6 PM.

We will stay open later for certain events and open earlier by appointment.

2. I am naturally averse to spending money. When I see something I like that costs more than a dollar and isn't an amazing deal, I have to process before I spend. I look at the item, leave the store, make sure I want it, and then come back and buy it. There are many good aspects to this personality tic, particularly in a business that is not exactly bleeding profit.

However, it does mean I put off making money decisions. Amie has been keeping me informed daily regarding exactly how much we've spent on everything. As an LLC, the store's money is my money, and we've just:

a. purchased the business
b. split the cost on an inventory
c. painted the store
d. paid a lot of fees to lawyers (Totally fair and reasonable, I couldn't be happier about how that went. No lawyer bashing in this post.)
e. and to our bank
f. and cleaned our carpet.
g. and bought gift cards and bags
h. and looked at the credit card fees as I set us up for processing
i. and really, really, really came to terms with payroll (worth every penny)

And I needed just a little break before I went through the rest of my cash. I feel like walking around with my pants pockets inside out with a horn player following behind me playing "Wah, wah."

That said, I have to get cracking on our outside signage. My mourning period for the wonderful Mackenzie, who was giving me signage advice, and was recently laid off, has to be over. I promise to start contacting people for quotes today. For now, I think we're only going to do the flat letters on the front of the store. I think we're doing white instead of gold (not enough contrast on the latter, which is what Schwartz used) and I'm leaning towards a Courier typeface.

3. It took a long time to get our Master Card and Visa up. We should be able to take American Express sometime today (Monday). I know a lot of stores still don't take Amex and historically, I understand the feeling. Standard fee is about 3% back to them plus a 10 cent fee, plus there is money to your processsor too. However, it turns out the traditional 2% for small retailers (yes, gas stations and supermarkets and mass merchants pay less) is for the classic bank card, which you hardly see anymore. Branded cards are usually a half a point higer, and corporate cards approximate the Amex fee. As a merchant, you can't distinguish between which Visa and MasterCard cards you take, so why not take the Amex too?

Here's a getting-ready picture we recently sent to the trade. Mark is not in the picture (working at the Better Business Bureau) but from clockwise back row left, we've got Sharon, Anne, Jason, myself, Pam, Amie, Melissa, Beverly, Brian, Sarah, Carl, and special-guest-star Elly.