02.17.08

 

Itís been a LONG time since I updated the web site. I apologize. I imagine people want to know how Iím doing with the business and with my health. Iím having a blast. Iím not making any money but, Iím enjoying what Iím doing.

 

There are so many ways to slice and dice the numbers. I could say that I had $118k in sales last year. But, I would have to subtract out non-money making things like money orders and stamps and then that number would only be about $55k. Thatís not bad for the first year. But, most of it went to paying bills. The accountant says I lost money on top of that. So, I wonít say how much. Letís just say that if you were to do this then youíd need to have enough money to live on for a year or two until you started really becoming profitable.

 

Hereís a rough idea of how the sales went. I had $690 in sales in January, woo hoo! I had a 234% increase in sales in February. Then, I went up in March, April, May and June. I went down in July and then went up the rest of the year. I had a 79% increase in December over November. But, then January went down 38%. So far February is looking to be a little bit better than January.

 

Iím going to admit to something here that I wouldnít really bring up in a conversation because there are just some things that I donít want people telling me how I ďshouldĒ feel. I have a thought in the back of my mind all of the time that tends to govern my thinking a bit. The thought is simply this: I only have 5 years to live from the date of the surgery. I know thatís strange but, you have to understand that the insurance companies wonít insure people whoíve had cancer for 5 years AFTER theyíve been treated. Itís like they KNOW youíre going to DIE within 5 years. So, that thought is in the back of my mind. November 16, 2004 was the date of the surgery so, as of today I have about 1.5 years to liveÖ according to the insurance companies. So, itís likeÖ Iíll run the business have fun, maybe go broke, maybe not, and then see what really happens at the end of 5 years. Itís kind of like an ďI donít care what happensĒ attitude. I think you have to have had cancer and had to deal with it to really understand. Then, thereís my mother. She died within a year of being diagnosed with cancer. So, Iím doing pretty good, considering.

 

Most people probably donít know that my father died last year, one week before Thanksgiving. He had prostate cancer as well. My sister walked into his house and found him keeled over, already gone. I havenít had a good relationship with my sister since. Actually, it started before he died when she sent me an email and challenged me on a few ďissuesĒ that were on her mind. They also accused me of being covetous when I thought I should get some part of my fatherís house, even though he quit claimed deeded the house to his #1 grandson a few months before he died. Then, they locked me out of my fatherís house without letting me know they were going to do that and I didnít quite get the things out of the house that I wanted. I donít want to sound whiney. I can see where theyíre coming from. They have this never ending list of wrongís theyíve incurred over the years and now Iím paying for it. Needless to say, things were a little stressful towards the end of last year. I started praying about it and then I started feeling better. But, we havenít reconciled, yet.

 

I think thereís a reason for everything. Weíll just see what happens.

 

Saimirís been the biggest blessing Iíve had since I opened the store. Wow. I needed some help towards the end of the year and Godís timing was just perfect.

 

Iím struggling with marketing. I have a few ideas. I just canít get jump started. I need to do something like mail out postcards. I just need to get the postcards made and then do the labels and put postage on them and mail them. The home office said we need to do community events like host a parade. OkÖ a parade in the little town of Zephyrhills is one thing. A parade on St. Augustine Rd in Jacksonville is another thing.

 

I could use a bigger store or I could clean up and start using the space more efficiently in the store I already have. That seems to be a constant struggle anyway. So, a bigger store wouldnít be a solution to everything.

 

I like the concept of a mailing/shipping store. I need to offer a few other things that actually move merchandise or sell services to really get traffic coming through the store.

 

One of the biggest struggles is dealing with customers who think shipping costs too much, or they should get a discount or they simply think my prices are way too high. I keep hearing various things from customers who ship items at other stores and they say my prices are really good. The problem children are the ones who mail via the post office. I simply canít offer services for the same price as the post office because the post office doesnít give discounts. The key to shipping is getting the discounts.

 

I have stories out the wazoo about my customers both good and bad. I have a lot of really nice customers. I like the fact that I can have a relationship, of sorts, with people. Iím not just someone who takes their money. Iím someone who really wants to do the best I can for them AND get to know them a little as well.

 

I take the girls to the store once in a while. I have customers come to the store just to see the girls. They just turned 1 year old this month. They weigh about 50 lbs now. Theyíre sweet hearts.

 

I had my 1 year anniversary on January 17th. Iím hoping that I can make it another year. The Fleming Island store closed last year. She didnít quite make it 1 year. Her store was in a bad location. The Chaffee Rd store is actually doing pretty good. The Gate Parkway store is doing well, too. If I could afford to buy the Gate Parkway store, I would. I just canít do that.

 

Oh! My health. Iíve had 3 years of PSA scores that were like 0. The urologist said the recommendation is to stop doing Lupron injections since the PSAís been 0. Thatís like taking away my ďinsuranceĒ and living on faith. Thatís something else to think about. What happens when the effects of the Lupron wear off? Will the cancer come back? If so, then the insurance companies were right. This living by faith thing isnít all that easy. Iím trying to prepare for the worst, should that happen. Lord knows what Iíll do if I end up in the hospital.

 

Iím not worried. Iíve made it this far. Actually, looking back on the last 10-15 years I can see Godís hand on my life. Some really key things have happened over the yearsÖ like getting a job at BCBSFL. There ainít no way I can take credit for that, let alone ending up with the job that I had. Do I regret leaving BCBSFL? Not really. Yes, I miss the people. It was the best job one could ever hope for. It had itís ups and downs. I think I felt like quitting a least once a year during the 11 years I was there. Thatís an odd thing to say, I know. But, thatís what I found out. Things change. They get good. They get bad. Then, they change again.

 

One thing I was concerned about when I left BCBSFL was that Iíd be treated poorly by the corporation after I left. I mean it can be HELL dealing with BCBSFL politics. I can honestly say that did not happen. They were wonderful. I wasnít cheated out of anything. They still paid me for 2 weeks after I quit. Iíve been on COBRA for almost 18 months. And, I called last month and they said they would convert my COBRA to an individual policy when it runs out in March. THANK YOU BCBSFL!

 

Another question I know people might have about my health would be about my sex life. The response is simply, what sex life? Everything changed after the surgery. Iíve put on some weight. But, other than that, that aspect of my life isnít the same AND I like it this way. I can still say that I wouldnít change a thing.

 

I can say that if the business doesnít work out then thatís not the end of the world, I think. J If I can learn about mailing/shipping and run a business then that means I still can learn to do something else. I know I donít want to do computer related work. I wouldnít mind doing something with computers where it wasnít so technical that I would have to learn about new hardware every year. I would like to do something that involves working with people. I could be a teacher, I think. I just donít know if I could write lesson plans.

 

We shall see what the future holdsÖ