January 2, 2010

La Carta Bella: Where do we go from here?

The time has come where La Carta Bella is at a crossroads. I must decide whether to continue or close the doors forever.

As everyone knows, the economy is bad and a lot of businesses are struggling. For the past year, I have been funding the store out of my personal household budget. I have done this hoping that things would turn around. I have been struggling with the decision on whether to close or remain open for a while and finally decided that the decision should be left up to YOU; therefore, within the next 4 weeks, YOU will have made the decision that La Carta Bella should either stay or go. In order for you to make an informed decision, I need to provide you with some information. I am sure a lot of you probably understand a lot about business. If this sounds redundant, please forgive me; however, I am going to do the best I can at laying out the following:

  1. Explain overhead costs
  2. What wholesale means and How the Retail Cost is calculated
  3. Explain how La Carta Bella compares to other Stamp or Craft Stores

Overhead Costs

My overhead costs include Rent, Utilities, Shipping Costs, Wages and what we all love the most, Inventory. My personal time and energy is NOT included in my overhead costs. I ‘donate’ that due to my love of the hobby itself. Included in my time and energy that I ‘donate’ is the following:

  • Updating of my Blog (2 to 6 hrs per week)
  • Ordering new merchandise (3 hrs per week)
  • Researching on the internet looking for new stamp lines, keeping up to date on new releases from stamp companies, researching new techniques and class ideas (2 hrs per week)
  • Pricing and checking in of new merchandise (2 hrs per week)
  • Setting up displays at the store (2 hrs per week)
  • Working the store on Saturday (4 hrs per week)

My only goal from day one has been that the store would simply cover these costs for me. Anything over and above that would be nice but would NOT be necessary in order for me to justify staying open.

Wholesale Costs and How retail is calculated

Standard Retail Markup is 50% of wholesale. My cost for merchandise is half of what I charge you, the customer. All other local stamp and scrapbook stores include their shipping costs in the retail cost that you are charged.  I DO NOT INCLUDE SHIPPING COSTS IN THE RETAIL COST THAT YOU, THE CUSTOMER, IS CHARGED. I consider shipping costs a business expense. For example, if a stamp costs me $3.00 then the retail on that stamp is $6.00. Keep in mind, in a lot of cases, I charge LESS than the 50% Retail Markup. For example, the Nestabilities that I carry in the store. My cost for those are $12.00 each. Retail on Nestabilities is $24.00. I charge LESS than Retail. Our cost on Nestabilities is $19.00. This is LESS than any store locally and is LESS than most internet websites and WITHOUT the shipping costs. Hobby Lobby charges $24.99 for their Nestabilities. Another example, Savvy has a Chandelier stamp in which I charge $8.75. AC Moore has the same Chandelier stamp but they charge $10.00.

Lastly, anytime I have a Sale, Promotion, accept a coupon, or allow you to redeem your Frequent Buyer Card, I am accepting LESS than standard retail. In which case as you remember, my retail is already LOWER than all other stamp stores.


How La Carta Bella Compares to other Stamp Stores 

I set out to carry stamp companies that we all know and love but were very difficult to find locally. We all rather pick up and look at stamps in person verses buying them on the internet. By purchasing locally, we can see the size, quality and card samples giving us ideas of different ways we can use the stamps. I worked very hard to get permission to carry stamps and paper from the stamp companies that I currently have in the store. There are sometimes very rigorous guidelines that I must follow in order to be allowed to carry certain companies. Most of the highly sought after stamp companies will NOT allow new companies to carry their stamps if they are a internet only store. In other words,  you must be an actual brick and mortar store meaning that you must have a physical retail location in which to sell the stamps. If you don’t have a physical retail location, they will NOT sell wholesale to you. Some companies even went as far as requiring me to send pictures of my store front while others will not sell to you if you are within 25 miles of another location that carries their stamps. They are serious about who they sale wholesale to. What does this mean to you?…It means that there are very few local stores where you can find these stamps. I have worked diligently to carry stamp companies that are hard to find and at the lowest cost available.


Final Thoughts

I have done my best to shed some light on some of the things that go on behind the scenes at La Carta Bella.  If you would like for the store to remain open, then we must have your support purchasing or considering La Carta Bella before going to another store, refer your stamping friends and family to La Carta Bella and encourage them to support their local stamp store, and taking classes if offered. In order to continue, we must turn things around quickly. In return, I will continue to provide the best stamps, papers, inks, and tools at the lowest price possible and will expand the range of classes that we offer. I will also be happy to listen to your suggestions and input.

Lastly, I would like to say ‘Thank You’ to all the friends of La Carta Bella. We hope that we can continue to serve you. :)

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