Saturday, January 30, 2016

First Annual State of The Attic Address

Why hello there, lovely readers! My name is Lynne, and I just wanted to let you all know that it'll be me doing the writing today and not the insomniac. She's down in the scullery making another pot of coffee, desperately trying to come up with a topic for her next blog post. So I thought I'd take this opportunity (and rather rare occurrence of a vacant computer chair) to sit down and chat with you about some important Business Information - the kind of boring details the insomniac  prefers not to think about and which generally get chucked in my general direction for handling. That would be all the fun things like bookkeeping, income tax returns and all of the heavy lifting when “we” set up and tear down at markets. Although I may share a few personality traits with the insomniac, let's be brutally honest here - the elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor with that one.

To introduce myself, I'm the brains behind Insomniac's Attic - The Shoppe. New readers may not even realize that back in the beginning this blog was actually updated weekly (I know, right?) and written solely to showcase new products arriving in The Attic that week. And if you go back to the very first post from four years ago (which I'd rather you didn't because it's kind of embarrassing) it's quite evident I'm not a particularly good writer and it was pretty dull fare. But somewhere between then and now, the insomniac  showed up and took over the writing of the blog, and it slowly evolved into something that became less about showcasing new products in The Attic and more about the little things going on in our lives. She started sharing personal stuff I never would have even considered publishing on the internet, and now it's become embarrassing in a whole different way. Which, judging by the Blogger Stats which I actually read and the insomniac  totally disregards, are quite popular posts - although to me, they seem about as boring as the ones I used to write. But that's just my personal opinion.

Back when The Attic opened four years ago this February, our Canadian dollar was at an all-time high and actually worth three cents more than the US dollar. But these days things are far different, and the Canadian dollar usually hovers around and sometimes under 70 cents US. As you can imagine, by the time shipping fees, taxes and duties are added onto a wholesale order, it's practically impossible to compete with other retailers in the US selling the same items. What this means for Insomniac's Attic customers is that orders from regular US suppliers will be temporarily discontinued until such time as our Canadian dollar makes a recovery. Financial Experts are predicting at least another year before that happens and, even then, it'll probably be a while before we're even close to being back on par. And this I know for a fact, being the Financial Wizard that I am. Or maybe because I've lived through this same scenario a few times already, being somewhat old-ish.

During these uncertain economic times, some items will remain Out of Stock on the website, and by the time our dollar recovers may no longer be available from that particular wholesaler. Because although you and I might always have a need for Flourish Skulls or Claw Candlestick Holders, wholesalers are notoriously fickle and generally discontinue items after a season or two. Possessing the keen Business Acumen that I do, I'm predicting that will probably happen right around the time our dollar catches up and I can finally start purchasing new stock again.

While we're on the subject of the website (which is so badly out of date it's not even funny anymore - and just try to guess who handles that  part of the business), I've finally managed to convince the insomniac  it desperately needs a complete overhaul. Most of the pictures need retaking now that we have a new-ish camera; items no longer available from wholesalers need to be removed; new categories added and others discontinued, with those products needing to be put on sale. But trying to coax her into sitting down and working on the website is like pulling teeth ... she'd rather be knitting, or sewing, or coming up with some insane idea for something else we can carry in The Attic. That being said, she's practically finished updating the Taxidermy Category (which obviously she chose to work on first because it's one of the smaller ones), and once it goes live you can bet I'll be all over it, sharing the link and information about any sale items on the Insomniac's Attic FB Page, the maintenance of which falls under my job description. Because I take my job seriously - unlike some people around here. As a side note, all the Social Media platforms we engage with on a regular basis are listed on the tabs at the top of this blog. Google+ not being one of them.

So anyways, while I was attempting to explain to the insomniac  that despite this being the time of year when emails come pouring in for wholesale shows, new spring catalogues, etc. we wouldn't be traveling anywhere nor ordering much in the way of new stock, primarily because this is the year Revenue Canada expects to see The Attic start turning a profit and no longer running in the red. She got pretty pouty about that at first, and I can almost guarantee that if I don't keep a firm grip on the situation, the next thing you know she'll be up here on the computer stealthily ordering just a few more petticoats, networking with a local artist for some exclusive IA Gothic tea towels, and applying for a new wholesale account with a Canadian company who looked to have some marvelous little Gothic cabinets in the latest issue of Canadian Retailer magazine. But still tiny enough so the shipping costs don't leave us all gasping for air. 

When she finally stopped being all sullen, she decided this year would be an excellent time to start filling the Attic with things she makes - because we all know how well those do at markets, don't we? Other than Horror Con, which we actually do quite well at and is the only market we're doing this year. Because quite frankly, I'm getting tired of doing all the heavy lifting by myself.

Yeah, so she started getting all excited and jabbering on about how she misses doing beadwork and working with leather and furs, and how she'd always  dreamed of making a small line of Dark Mori clothing and opening an Etsy store (which will probably end up just as out-of-date as the website). My husband (who the insomniac  refers to as the spouse) and I looked at one another, collectively rolled our eyes, shuddered a little bit then said, “Now hold on a minute ... settle yourself down! Let's not get carried away and start making more things that won't sell.” But after careful consideration we both agreed that sometimes it's necessary to let the insomniac  have her way, keeping her occupied during these long, cold winter months so she doesn't go all Jack Torrance on our asses - it's not like there isn't a plethora of chainsaws and axes lying around the Spooky Forest just begging to be smashed through a bedroom door. I did, however, make her promise that anything she creates must be a Size 12 and black in colour - a little floral pattern is acceptable provided it's on a black background and not too flashy - and must be something I can wear to the saloon on Saturday nights without raising too many eyebrows should none of it sell.

Anyway, I think I'll head downstairs and see if the coffee's ready yet. While I'm down there, does anyone have suggestions on what they'd like the insomniac  to write about next? Anybody interested in seeing professional photos of the Little Gothic Cottage instead of those artsy-fartsy moody vignettes she always posts? Although I'm sure she'll probably spice up those professional pictures with a bit of banter about our experiences building the cottage. After all, it's almost been a year and a half since we've moved in - surely by now she's probably gotten over all those annoying little things that drove her absolutely mental while we were building. Probably.

I think the other thing she was throwing around (besides income tax paperwork) was how to build a Steampunk Coffin, but I believe there may have been even fewer people interested in that topic than the previous one. Plus that particular post requires the assistance of the only person in this cottage authorized to use power tools, and we sorta have to get him on board first. Word in the forest was he needed a new tool - a biscuit joiner or some such thing - before he could even begin to think about it. So if you have any other suggestions to get her up here writing again it would be greatly appreciated, before a month's absence turns into three like it did last summer and we have to drag her out from beneath whatever rock she's hiding under to get her going again.

In the meantime, while you're waiting for her to come up with a new post and if you happen to be wondering what's going on in our lives, please feel free to interact with us (well, mostly her) on Instagram - a Social Media platform Little Gothic Horrors suggested would be a good place for Insomniac's Attic - The Shoppe, which I wholeheartedly agree with. Unfortunately, I gave the insomniac  free rein over there too, so although it started out well - with pictures of the LGC, our version of Gothic Home Decor, products that will eventually make it on the website should she ever decide to update it, markets we were selling at - just like this blog, it seems to have degenerated into a place where she's completely forgotten about showcasing The Attic and instead posts videos of herself feeding the birds, photos of what's currently on her knitting needles, sewing projects she's working on for our own cottage and which aren't even for sale - pretty much every damn thing except Attic Business. You should never EVER give the insomniac  free rein anywhere on Social Media. It always ends up going off the rails. Always.

So until next time, all three of us here at the Little Gothic Cottage wish you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. And instead of the usual “Goodnight, my pretties.” tagline the insomniac  normally closes with, since I'm control today I'll leave you with a lovely little poem my father used to recite to me at bedtime when I was very young; well before the insomniac  ever arrived on the scene ...

Good night. Sleep tight.
Don't let the bedbugs bite.
And if they do, you know what to do.
Squeeze 'em tight.


PostScript:  Lynne may like to believe she's in charge of things in The Attic, but I think we all know who really runs the show here, don't we? Goodnight, my pretties.

PostPostScript: I heard that. And let me tell you, if I weren't the excellent businesswoman that I am, this place would have folded three years ago. You and all your flaky pie-in-the-sky ideas ... And while we're at it, may I ask precisely when exactly you're planning on finishing the revisions to “our” website?

Oh, good grief. Would you listen to those two? And it's like this Every. Single. Day. The constant bickering and sniping at one another - it's endless. Who am I? Well, I'm pretty new here so I don't have a name yet. But I swear, one day while they're both busy squabbling I'm going to step in and take over this business myself. I guess I should come up with a name then, shouldn't I? Hmmmmm. How about Sybil? Yes, I like that. Sybil it is then.

PostPostPostScript: Not a single solitary one of us is expecting any comments on this post. I mean really ... what could you possibly say except, “Get some help. Please.”  ;)