Friday, October 22, 2010

A Few Things

Preparing for the last ten days before Halloween. Traffic through the building has been near-relentless. A few things that come to mind, from the last several days:

A year ago, had you said I would be working in a retail store today, I would have called you crazy. Had you said I would be managing a retail store with a staff of 25, I would have said something like, "Not in this lifetime." I recently sent an informal email to the partners: should you stay in business in this location, I will manage the store for you.

We have an agreement with the Scottish Rite Temple, the Masons next door, to park in their parking lot. Thursdays, we have only the twelve spaces against our building, of the 130 spaces in the lot. The first Thursday in October, Masons took 11 of our twelve spaces. I went over there to confront them, they said they would take care of it. We lost more spaces the following Thursday, we lost five last night. I went over to confront them again. I was very friendly about it. I said, "I am William Hunter Duncan, and I would like to speak to the assembly." They said no. I asked if they would suspend their meeting next Thursday, so we might have the entire parking lot, three days before Halloween. They said not a chance. One of the guys stopped by late last night and said I was no longer allowed in the building. I told him I'll stop by for dinner, the Thursday after Halloween.

A little boy, about four, was watching me as I spoke with his mother, while I scanned their merchandise. I had just returned from an errand, so I did not have a costume on, or the white mad scientist/Einstein wig I often wear. I was simply dressed as I always dress. The little boy scrutinized me silently, intensely, as little children sometimes do. He turned to his mother, pointed at me and said, "He's a pirate." That's right, kid. Thanks for noticing.

We will probably do three times the business these last ten days, than we did the first six weeks. Americans are such procrastinators. Canadian sales reveal that Canadians are not such procrastinators, sales remaining steady without the equivalent explosion in sales the last few days before Halloween. We are likely to do as much in sales the last three days as we will have done the previous seven weeks.

It's getting busy. More and more people through the store, and an increasing percentage of them grumpy. What! You don't have that obscure costume I want? Too late to get it? Grrrrrr. Many grouse about our prices. I give as many of them as I can a brief tutorial on modern economics and economics of scale, wondering why, but not saying, why do so many people think it is a problem to pay ten dollars more for a costume that is right in front of them, in a small, locally owned business, rather than driving 20 miles to the suburbs to a corporate joint, where the staff is not very interested in the job, the manager is in his position because he talks up to the corporate elite and down to the staff, where most of the income flows to that corporate elite - and then thinking nothing about dropping ten dollars on two drinks at the bar?

Most people who come through here enjoy the space and the experience. We have a great time, the staff and I, and those "consumers" who are open to it, feel it, and love it.

Totally unrelated - did you know the United States is threatening to sue China in International court, for China subsidizing Chinese renewable energy projects, because, America says, that is against International free-trade agreements. What? One might ask, Why is the subsidizing of renewable energy projects against International trade agreements? One might ask, why is America trying to prevent China, one of the dirtiest economies in the world, from cleaning itself up? There are no doubt various tortured rationals for this. Tortured, every one of them, ostensibly to protect the health of the economy, in direct contravention of Health.

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