I N T H E T RENCHE S
By Allen McBroom
“Stayin’ Alive” was one of the omnipresent anthems of the disco era, and a song that I really hated to play when it came up in the rotation at the radio station. The persistent “ahah-ah-ah- stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive” grated on my nerves after a few hundred plays, and I had pretty much blocked that song — along with the whole disco experiment — from my brain ... until yesterday. Yesterday, I was driving to an appointment, uncharacteristically put the car radio on a pop station, and suddenly the Gibbs were on my radio, singing about staying alive. I never got a lot of sense out of those lyrics, but hearing the song got me to think about the topic of staying alive, and the struggle to keep music stores pumping as we exit what we hope is the darkest part of the COVID-19 pandemic. For a lot of us, the biggest challenge at the moment is getting inventory to sell. What a challenge that has become.
While I’m writing this column well before it hits print, of course, I’m pretty sure inventory availability will still be an issue as you read this. So, let’s talk about some ways to get the increasingly elusive great sellers back on the shelves and how to make as much money as possible while doing it. Goal No. 1 is to increase margin as much as possible. Believe it or not, most manufacturers (and some distributors) have better margins available in several forms. They don’t refer to it as a better margin, but in reality, that is what it is, and here are some ways to get it. Let’s say you buy a lot from XYZ, an accessory manufacturer. Call your XYZ rep and ask where the discounts are. Maybe there is a two-percent early pay discount. Two percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you take advantage of it, your 35-point margin suddenly becomes 37 points. Maybe they have caselot prices and you can save a few points there. Ask about shipping deals. Any time you can shave a few points off your cost by getting discounted (or free) shipping, your margin goes up. Look at your sales records. If you don’t have records broken out by items sold, look at your XYZ purchase invoices for the last year. You’re looking for the best-selling items you get from XYZ. Maybe by ordering a sixmonth supply or even more, you can pay shipping on that product once in six months, rather than once a month for six months. If you know you are going to sell it if it’s in stock, why wouldn’t you stock AUGUST 2021