Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Evening Thoughts - because it's all I can think of

I'm surprised at how much I don't know.

I created about 1000 credit card sized, laminated, edited cliff note versions of "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" in case I run into anybody in Valdese who needs to know what an actual Nazi is.  Not really.

A few minutes ago I used a pair of scissors to pry apart some chocolate cookies that had melted together.  It was not a good decision, and please don't tell my wife.

I find I'm cynical sometimes, but I'm not cynical enough to be a political cartoonist.  Also, I can't really draw.

Whenever there's a movie about a dog, somebody's going to die.

Whenever there's a movie about Christmas, somebody's going to die.

I suppose I'd rather watch Bachelor Pad than be water boarded, but I'd have to think about it.  No I don't.  Somebody call Dick Cheney and let's get it over with.

I believe the worst day of summer was Sept 2nd or 3rd - it was hot & humid, then there was an afternoon thundershower, and then it got hotter and more humid.  I'm thinking about that now, because it's 45-50 degrees cooler, and I'm pretty sure I don't like it. 

If I had 1.9 million dollars in cash to spend, I could think of a lot of things to do with it other than buying a house in Costa Rica.

When I read over some of my older posts, I cringe.  I suppose one day I'll read this and cringe. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Think I Remember Mrs. Apple

I may have my facts wrong, right down to people's names, but I think I remember Mrs. Apple.  

One day Mrs. Apple was driving her jalopy down the road, her jalopy being defined as something on the order of a Model T, and of course it broke down.  But she wasn't worried, she lived in a nice friendly place and she knew it was only a matter of time before some nice young man would stop and help her.  So she sat down on a small retaining wall in the front of someone's house and ate an apple and waited.   People stopped, but no one could figure out what was wrong with her car, so she just told them thanks and they went on, confident that eventually someone would be able to figure it out.  Well eventually Mr. Brown, a nice young man who drove a delivery truck & wore some kind of uniform, stopped and looked, and he's the one who figured out that Mrs. Apple had run out of gas.  They both laughed and he gave her some gas and they went on their way.

In my life, especially when I first started owning cars, I've had a few occasions where my automobile has decided to strand me on the road somewhere usually due to its advanced age and a lack of money to keep up a proper maintenance routine.  Each time that happened I always thought about Mrs. Apple, and how things never seemed to work out for me like it did for her.  And I wished, for a time at least, that I could have lived in Mrs. Apple's world, where everybody was nice, and everything always turned out fine.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our eBay month - August 2011

August was better than July, but the business is still following a trend that I would like to reverse.

How good or bad a month we have is determined by a few factors: the number of items we sell, the amount we're able to sell them for, our business expenses and eBay policies (which are closely entwined with our business expenses).

In August we actually sold somewhat fewer postcards and antique photos than we did in July, but we sold quite a bit more trade cards.  Also, there is a quirk of the way I keep records.  I update the totals on the days we ship - I somehow feel like it isn't legal unless it's paid for, packaged and on its way, and it helps me keep organized. We ship Monday thru Saturday, everyday the post office is open.  July had a holiday, and because of the way the days fell there were 25 shipping days in July.  In August, there were 27 shipping days.  For monthly totals, it doesn't matter how many days there were, but it does matter for daily averages of sales and transactions, and I watch that closely.

Overall, we sold more items in July than August, but we got a better price for things in August, so our "gross" haul was slightly better than in July. 

The important number though is not the gross, but the net, the amount we have left over after expenses.  The net for August was significantly higher than July, and this happened for a couple of reasons.  Our postcard & antique photo sales were down slightly, both in number and dollar amount, but we had a pretty good Victorian Trade Card month.   In addition, our monthly business expenses were much lower than average. 

I'm very interested in why business expenses were lower, and I some reasons I know, and others I have theories. 

First, our direct eBay payment was noticeably lower.  eBay charges listing fees whenever we list something for sale, and a final value fee if it actually sales.  Until last month the FVF on most items we sold was 12%.  Last month eBay lowered the FVF to 11%, but included shipping and handling charges in the FVF calculation, something they had not done before.  For people who have a shipping and handling charge on their items, their expenses just went up.  We don't charge shipping and handling on any items we ship to a domestic USA shipping address, so this change resulted in somewhat lower eBay fees for us.

Second, the amount we paid for postage was much less than what we paid in July.  I print postage labels online when I can, and we purchase stamps in bulk (by the roll, etc) as needed.  We just didn't purchase as much in August as we normally do.

The increase in the amount we netted for August was significant, and 80% of that came from reduced expenses, which does not really make me happy.  Our daily sales average in August was less than in July, and the average transactions as well as the average number of items sold per day were also lower than July.  This continues a trend that started in January - the daily averages for each month this year have been less than the month before (with the exception of June).  I don't like this and I'm not sure what to do about it.

September has started fairly slowly. Sigh.