Okay, here goes. The Framerguy feared I was getting whiny so I thought I would put out a positive post about my store. Don't want to be whiny. I am however at this point very frustrated due to the lack of holiday sales. Although, I did take 6 orders after I posted my lack of business yesterday afternoon. But my December sales have a lot of catching up to do to beat last year...... Anyway, positive thoughts about Out on a Whim........ After nearly caving in this spring I decided I would do whatever I could to just hang on until fall and hope for a busy fall season. Well, I did much better than hang on. Each month since May has been up over last years business. June September and November in particular were off the charts, for my little operation anyway. I have not taken on any new debt this year. I haven't really paid any debt down, but the store has paid for itself. I took on a new accountant who doesn't know this but, I nicknamed him "The Bulldog". He is much more aggressive in making sure I am in compliance and explains as he goes along. He just recently told me it looks like I should break even this year. This is a good thing, maybe next year I'll get paid? Somebody very smart told me he felt my biggest problem getting people in the store was my signage, so out with the old..... .....in with the new. Ain't she purty? I think this alone was my best move this year. I attempted to get the sign reworked when I first bought the store but it was a fortune and I din't know the importance at the time. I think I have noticed an influx of some new business. People who haven't been in before who aren't waving coupons in their hands. I know the results of the sign may not be that apparent but over time I am confident it will make a big impact. I think I have finally made all the cosmetic changes to the store until I can relocate. The main one being redoing my design counter. The old one was too high at 38". I decided that desk height(29") was more comfortable for the customers. It in fact has been, it works well. Plus I had two 40x72 tables made instead of one big one. That way they are modular. Right now I have them next to each other but I have had them in an L and even a T shape. The important part is they are more customer friendly, they are open which creates the feeling of space and I can now help two people at once. I also have added some fun tables for looks........ I have also started putting up panels for my corner samples. I have taken 4x8 pressed board and covered them in velcro black and mounted them to the wall. I then have taken nice moulding and framed the panels. I managed to get some more than reasonable prices on the mouldings since they are being used as displays and I need like 30 feet per panel. This looks so cool, I wish I had a picture of the first two I did. But alas, my digital camera seems to have vanished..........but it looks very finished and professional. Doing the panels this way is narrowing down the amount of samples I carry but I have close to 2,000 and have decided I need to narrow my focus as I go along. Which brings me to my next positive thought. I have narrowed my focus on moulding companies. I am concentrating on my local vendors to save shipping costs. I also have worked out pricing incentives with all my vendors as a result of narrowing my focus. I have been waiting to have bigger numbers before approaching them on discounts. But, since I decided to narrow my focus and gave them more wall space I felt my numbers weren't necessarily an issue. It worked out for all of us. I get better pricing, they get more wall space and increased sales and I have the added confidence that they must see some glimmer of possibility in me and my store for future profits. This is a good thing. I have reworked the hideously small back room with a small vertical rack to accomodate a small amount of length and built a couple new storage areas. I have also done what I can to update my hopelessly overused equipment. I have finally mastered my underpinner(what the heck was I afraid of?) Little things here and there to make me more efficient. If I am destined to work alone, I have to make it easier and faster. This November I sent out a postcard mailing to my existing customers and I feel it was quite successful. It is amazing how many people said they had been meaning to come in........next year I plan on sending out 4 mailings. In fact I am just this week trying to work up some copy for the Roma postcards. All that being said.....I am still in the fight of my life. I need results now, as I am running out of time. I feel like I have tried to make the best of a horrific situation. I'm still not quite sure what prompted me to even get into this, I guess the universe handed me something to do with my life and I am trying to make something out of nothing. If I can dig out of this incredibly deep, lonely hole it will all be worth it in the end. No amount of consolation or life experience gained will make it worth what I have been through if I fail. I haven't even allowed myself to consider the possibility of quitting because I think it would force me into inaction. I have to keep looking forward, no sideways glances or God forbid don't look down. I'd collapse for sure. I have glimmers of progress and it is exciting, I have a good idea of what I need to do. I like this idea of being a retailer. I like the whole cause and effect as you watch people responding to what you have created. I've learned a lot, I've come far. My hands are tied financially which is keeping me going on a larger scale marketing wise. That is maddening. I am taking little bits and pieces and trying to make a whole business. I hope there is the possibility that I can grow and recover from this bad start. Otherwise why keep trying. I hope this doesn't sound like whining. This store means a lot to me. I will be devastated if I don't get a chance to really make this work. I am fairly disappointed in myself, I've had access to the best minds in this business and I still haven't been able to rise above it. I have all the correct information, I have the right motivation and attitude, I just simply got started out on the wrong foot. But I am convinced if things can continue to progress I can see daylight again. Or at least pay myself from time to time..... So, there you go, my official update. I have had so many of you guys ask how I am doing. It means a lot to me to have that support. I never intended on making my problems so apparent but I have pretty much lived through this whole experience on the G for better or worse I suppose. I know I have had a lot of people tell me they appreciate my honesty about my situation because everybody can learn from my situation. Personally I'd rather be learning from somebody elses situation but I guess somebody had to do it. This was very cathartic, thanks for reading.....now where the **** are all the holiday shoppers that are supposed to be here to help me fund this popsicle stand?