Selling Dolls

I’ve tried to explain this enough times that I decided just to write it up
once and (literally) for all.

We opened my wife’s doll shop in 1994. This month marks the completion of
our 12th year.

This month also marks the end of our current lease. That’s a decision point
– knowing this, last year we started asking ourselves: stay, move, go
internet-only or close down completely? The internet has changed the landscape
of doll selling fairly dramatically in recent years, and the expenses
associated with running an actual retail store don’t quite make sense in
comparison to the revenue generated by in-store sales. Internet sales were
“carrying” the business.

If we were going to be profitable , we needed to reduce expenses. Next to
inventory, which is kinda necessary, rent and payroll were tops on the list.
The status quo wasn’t going to cut it.

My wife’s not interested in internet-only, that’s not why she does this. In
addition, many suppliers require that you have a retail storefront.

Closing completely, while an option, seemed premature. Especially with some
of the success we were seeing with certain lines of dolls, and with our
internet presence.

So we elected to move to a cheaper
location, one that would also allow us much more flexibility in hours. Our
plan is to reduce both rent and payroll – reducing retail hours thus reducing
the amount of paid staff required to run the business.

Now, all of this was in plan since early this year.

Two of our three existing employees either already had plans to, or took
this as the opportunity to retire. Nothing unexpected or untoward about

What was unexpected is that the first would sell her house so quickly – and
as a result she had to quit a month prior to the old store closing. The second
employee had made plans to travel beginning two weeks prior to the close. The
third employee’s plans are unclear – she’s also traveling and when she returns
will be going back to school.

As a result, as of the first of the month the store is entirely run by
exactly two people: my wife and myself. Until we close the old store we’re
taking turns working in the shop.

And that’s why I’m selling dolls.

And on top of all this, then we’re going to a doll show. In Austin, Texas.
So the current plan has us closing the old store for good, traveling, and then
on our return doing the actual, physical, move. Hopefully the move will happen
all within two weeks if everything comes together.

We have various friends lined up or who have volunteered for the actual
move, but post-move the outlook is less clear. We do expect to have at least
one part time person to help – possibly also doubling as our personal assistant if the skills match. But
the goal remains to keep doll shop payroll low, so I expect I’ll be selling
dolls a little more frequently than I have in the past.

One of the “deals” I made with my wife is simply that if I’m going to be
spending more time in the doll shop, I want a good internet connection. In
fact, since our home is apparently on DSL’s trailing edge, the new shop
location may well have better connectivity. I might even want to come in more

It’ll at least have a more comfortable desk and chair for computer

I’ll admit also that it’s been educational to be in the store. The software
I wrote beginning 12 years needs updating and by actually doing the work simple
things pop up that the software should be able to seriously aid in.

Years ago I just to joke that it was “interesting” to write software – the
shop cash register – when at the end of each day you expect to sleep with the
“customer”. By working in the store I think I’m picking up even more by
being the customer.

But, as I said, I’m selling dolls, and will probably be doing so off and on
for a while. More on than off right now, but long term we’ll see.

And as I’ve told people many times – not something I would have predicted
back in high school.

1 thought on “Selling Dolls”

  1. Thanks for sharing that, Leo. When people suggested you should be “surrounded by dolls” I’m not sure that’s what we had in mind, though! 🙂

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