Closing The Store Gives a Different Perspective
You never have such great 20/20 hindsight as when you’re packing the contents of your store into dozens and dozens of cardboard cartons.
Here are some things I know now that I didn’t know then:
- We bought too many copies of many titles. Being a store that deals heavily with remainder product certainly added to the temptation to seize the day when a title was offered at 75-80% off, but remainders and overstock are remainders and overstock for a reason.
- Once you have the above principle firmly in your mind, you’re still stuck with those excess quantities; mainly because…
- …The barrel of sand theory: Your inventory is like a large barrel of sand. You are constantly pouring new sand in, and people are constantly scraping sand from the top, but very few people dig deep into the barrel to see what’s near the middle or near the bottom.
- I should have accelerated the discount percentages as we were closing. We got a lot of traffic from two newspaper stories, and contented ourselves that the 50% discount was sufficient, when in fact, it might have created more buzz — and caused us less packing to do — to go to 60% and 70% on some items.
- Unlike a true liquidation, we’re not totally closing the business, since we still have one location; so we tempered the discount percentages somewhat, but the cream of the crop stock had long been picked over.
- We were a full year in shut-down mode. Once we realized we were staying through Christmas we reactivated the new release section. Keeping a small core section of bestsellers — not part of the sale — at regular price was a waste of time. If people wanted to respond to the new titles the industry was offering, the store wouldn’t be closing.
- If you don’t have people lining up to buy your fixtures, you’re basically stuck with a load of scrap metal. You know the possibilities for those fixtures, but people aren’t lining up to open bookstores right now, are they?
- Having learned a lesson with my parents’ furniture, I know that paying to store the fixtures wouldn’t happen. Right now we’re being offered free storage for everything.
- Giving away the cash registers probably made the most sense. They were old when we got them 20+ years ago. Newer ones are being modified because of the 1-cent-piece being discontinued.
- Go for fruit. Seriously. When you’re closing and you look back, the fruit of ministry that took place in your store is all you have to remember. We had some encouraging things happen, but only a couple of recorded salvation stories. In-store evangelism should be the goal of every store owner and staff member. I wish we had pressed this goal further.
If anyone is interested in pictures of the store fixtures in question, and lives anywhere in Ontario to make it practical, let me know. We also have some great remainder stock that you can no longer access, and I’d make sure you didn’t get more than two copies of any given title.