Sunday, January 9, 2011

Revisiting "Open to Buy"

I don't "shop blog" much.  Oh, the stories I could tell--maybe someday.  But a little while back I blogged about a way of managing my buying, called "Open to Buy."  I wanted to offer a little insight into how it is working out.

Wow...a budget!  It was tough to get used to having to pick and choose what to purchase.  There are tons of nice items to choose from, many would actually sell and more that would be nice to have in the shop.  But OtB forced me to prioritize--what do I have to keep on hand to keep people coming back?  What can I push to the next month?  Have I exhausted the demand for that item?  Hard questions sometimes.

We made it through the fall and Christmas rush very well, though.  I over-spent, by just a little, a couple of months, but according to the OtB system you need to do that as you head into your busier months.  Then you pull way back as you head into your down season, so that your inventory leads your sales more closely.  I am thrilled to say that we have come into the new year in a much healthier cash position than we had six months ago! 

Right now I'm assessing where we go in the waning months of winter and into our down season, late spring and summer.  I have time to add some fun things for winter yet, but I'm also keeping an eye to what I need to pick up for spring.  Unlike last year, I've given myself a framework to make decisions from.  It really limits the shop in some ways, but it ensures that we'll be around for busy seasons yet to come. 

One additional good point is that even when I've taken some riskier positions in inventory, I've been able to manage that risk by knowing how the position compares to the overall sales of the shop.  I've taken more calculated risks this year.  That includes holding sales--I've known how a sale is going to affect my inventory levels and thus my following month's purchasing.  Very interesting. 

Enough shop talk...time to gather the kids and head to church.  And if you ever want to visit a really cute yarn shop in Peachtree City, Georgia, you can google just that and come and see us!

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