Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2013 in Review: 2nd Quarter

   By Tracy Zhu, Owner

One bright spot in April was the use of one of our market baskets in a Romantic Homes magazine photo shoot.
The second quarter of 2013 began with a sinking feeling that lasted all of April. We founded the business in May 2010, and beginning in May 2011 we enjoyed 23 months of unbroken year-over-year sales growth each month. March 2013 was bigger than March 2012 which trumped March 2011...you get the picture. April 2013, however, saw our sales drop by 24% from the previous April. I was quite concerned. We had spent a lot of cash moving the store and buying more displays and merchandise to fill the bigger space, and we had taken on higher rent. As part of my capacity-building plan mentioned in the previous post I had committed to more hours for my employees so I would have a better chance of retaining them, and also to free me up for more big-picture activities and off-site events. The growing payroll loomed, along with the higher rent, just as sales took a dive. I hoped the drop was due to the move and would be alleviated as customers found us in the new space. Although it is only two doors down from our old space, it's not visible from the old building, and I've heard from many who stopped by the old location after we moved and left disappointed when they saw we were no longer there - not realizing until well afterward that we were still in town. We had signage up redirecting people, but not everyone noticed, apparently. I was deeply relieved when sales rebounded strongly in May and June and we again set new monthly sales records.

Setting up the Tango Zulu booth at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington

We had a booth at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington in June, which worked out well for us. We were primarily there to sell product and raise our profile, but it was also a huge treat to experience the whole event, with its stellar lineup of exhibitors and speakers. I left the fair feeling I must have a yurt and a Tesla, but Drew was able to talk me out of it. Employee Patricia and her husband Steve were there to help, while our other employees, Kristi Anna and Sarah, held down the fort back at the store where they dealt with the big crowds from the annual June Faire held in Port Gamble.

Patricia and Tashi
Patricia had some exciting life changes in this period. She and Steve bought a beautiful little farm, and she begin studies to become a certified health coach. At the end of June she and I took a trip to Sandpoint, Idaho in a mini-van to pick up a precious little yak calf who had been rejected by his mother. It was quite a road trip. We began it calm, collected and on good behavior. By the end of it we were showing signs of road rage and were sweaty, stinky messes. I remember us both flipping off a semi truck driver and screaming "f*** you!!!" as he tried (unsuccessfully) to muscle into our lane. At the end, when we went our separate ways, Patricia said "well, I'd hug you but that would be gross." The calf, who Patricia later named Tashi Norbu, handled the trip just fine. You can follow his adventures at Yaks in the Cradle Farm.

We made time on our Idaho trip to visit with Ganesh Himal Trading, one of our key suppliers.

We ended the quarter feeling mostly back on our feet after the move, and well prepared for our big months of July and August.

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