Wednesday, February 23, 2000 in I Forgot To Pick A Category

How I made a million in mail-order

Alright, I’ve had a couple of those foggy-brain days. I’m sure it is not the lack of sunlight because the sun is getting up earlier these days. I think partly it’s lack of sleep.
I need my sleep. I need at least a solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It’s not like I stay up on purpose. I just keep waking up. That and sleeping on my elbows until it hurts. I also discovered another nasty bruise on my thigh with no idea where it came from. We finally figured it out. When Ron and I “spoon” at night, if I throw my leg over him, his bony hip digs into my thigh… right where the bruise is. Dang, my legs are too heavy.

I have so got to lose weight. It makes me depressed. On to the next topic.

I was sorta discussing with Jan about how I started my business, so here’s the whole story, excerpted from an e-mail to some business list I’m on.

It was back oh about 5 years ago, a bunch of us were gathered as usual at a local craft sale at the fire hall trying to sell our wares. There was much discusion about the need to travel for a half hour or more (to Town) to get anything resembling craft supplies.. i was flipping thru a magazine, and saw a large ad for a craft supplier in Alberta where there is no sales tax, hence *fabulous* prices… I showed my friends the ad.. “great prices” they said.. “but the shipping wouldn’t be worth it, even if we went in it together…” *sigh* Well someone should open a craft store around here, says I, and a round of “Oh yes”es followed… *ding* i could do that, I figured…
So I scrounged up a spare (?) $200, applied for a sales tax number, and sent off an order to above mention great place. When it came in, I set up a table in the corner of the living room (!) laid out the stuff on it, figured out a markup, mostly based on the going rates in town… and called up my friends. Hey, it worked! When more people found out, and started asking “could you get such & such” i looked for another supplier to add.. The one I found had a catalogue with seperate price list, and I thought, gee I can show the book to the customers and write in the retail prices, then I thought i should have a party like tupperware and pass round the book and take orders. That worked too!

So.. my premise was, sell the stuff, use the money coming in to get more stuff (now I call it inventory, like a real business person), and then figure where i was going to put it. Every so I often, we did have to “cover” order totals fom suppliers (read:invest more money), but I think it only worked out to maybe $2000 at most of our own money (capital) went into inventory. The rest has grown exponentially from sales (or net profit).

Our house is built in the shape of a barn, and our living space is the upper floor. We converted half of the downstairs garage area into a seperate “real” store. And that’s where I’m at today. I get to work at home, so to speak. I found out things as I went, and I’ve had lots of growing pains, but we’re doing okay. We now have a mail-order catalogue and a web site, and I’m continually looking up.

Talk about a fluke, eh?

I did leave out some details, like how our house wasn’t finished on the inside (still isn’t – this is common in this area so customers didn’t mind), and I started when the children were 7, 4 and 2 ! And I started homeschooling around the *same* time!

So it’s really a miracle I even got off the ground.

Anyway, I have had at least two or three ideas a day on journal entries, I’ve just been too lazy to write them. I’ve sat in front of the computer and totally wasted time. I’ve ignored legitimate work, too. Well, I did do some major work for my on-line catalogue, which isn’t up yet. I coded 15 pages into HTML, so you can see how on Monday maybe I didn’t feel like writing a journal entry. Ron has been absent for most of each day this week. He helps prod me into working when I don’t feel like it. What’s he doing, you ask?

Well, a friend of ours has started a new church which we’ve been helping with, in addition to attending our regular church.THat’s part of the reason we’re in a church of one sort of another for most of Sundays. We have a new building now and it needs a lot of work. Read: needs to be finished, have flooring, heat, lights, paint, the whole nine yards. So he’s rolled up his sleeves and pitched right it. Well, I’m happy about it, but I still feel a little shorted because our house certainly is in worse shape, and if they can all pitch in to work on that, why can’t they all come over here and pick a room?

I told you I was in a mood.