Jan 20, 2021

Stamping Destroyed My Life: Chapter 22

Welcome back!

Stamping Destroyed My Life starts here. Follow the links and read along! I had to reread the whole thing since it's been 5 years!

For my new readers -- this "serial novel" is a farce, poking fun at the crazy hobby of stamping. There is a lot of discussion of laws and taxes and "inside the stamping industry" and ALL of it is fictional. I am not, and have never been, inside the stamping industry. I'm just a stamper! I use real people's names only with permission, except for Barbara Bush or other public officials....


Chapter 22: You Might As Well Throw It in the Potomac

Turns out Beth was very interested in my manufacturing Beautiful Stamps.

"Half? We could cut our manufacturing costs by half?" Beth shrieked. "That's awesome. But how much time would that take and where would we do it?"

I laughed. "Well, that's the thing. My basement is already full of stacks of Beautiful stamps and mailing supplies. I'd have to empty out our garage, and move our stamps out there. I don't see a problem. John can park on the street and I'll take the driveway. No biggie. I'll be able to take an even bigger tax deduction for our home office and John will love that. And I read the directions on how to make the stamps online. Looks like a piece of cake."

"Oh, in that case, I'm all for it," said Beth. "But, how would it work? I mean, how much will it cost us to do this?"

If you are going to succeed in business you have to see the BIG picture and be willing to take a few risks. Otherwise, you'll be one of the majority of small businesses that fail. You might as well just stay a stamper.

Beth was a sweetheart, and a very talented designer, but she had no business sense. She could envision selling a few pretty cherry blossoms stamp sets, but couldn't envision earning enough money to retire to Palm Beach. 

I explained: "I looked into it and we would need to invest 30 thou. . . "

"WHAT? No way. That's crazy," Beth shouted.

I guess I had work to do.

"Beth, calm down and listen. First, and I mean this, if you say no, it's no. You won't get any argument from me. But, 'invest' is NOT the same as 'spend.' 'Spend' is buying craft supplies. It's money you will never see again. You might as well throw it in the Potomac. 'Invest,' however, is a down payment on wealth."

Really, I can't believe people that in 2011 people still have to study economics. It's simple as pie. 


Then Beth said, "M, as much as I'd like to quote unquote invest fifteen thousand DOLLARS, we do not have 15 thousand DOLLARS sitting around. And even if we did, there is no way Ted would agree to this.

"Beth, does Ted call you up in the middle of the day and ask your opinion on how to do his job? I bet he doesn't. YOU own Beautiful Stamps. You are co CEO and Artistic Director. It's YOUR decision. And, I'm not being nosy, but I bet you have that money. Haven't you been saving for your kids' college?"

"Are you crazy, M? You want me to spend my kids' college money? I would never do that!"

She really wasn't listening.

"Beth, of course I don't want you to SPEND the kids' college money. It's in some type of mutual fund, right?"

"Well, yes."

"So you took the money out of the bank and INVESTED it in the mutual fund. Nothing wrong with that. You want it to grow. All I'm suggesting, and you absolutely do not have to do this, is to take the money out of the mutual fund and INVEST it in Beautiful Stamps. I have a lot more faith in Beautiful than the market. Look what happened to the stock market a few years ago!!!"

Beth responded, "Oh. Well, when you put it that way, I have to admit it sounds so much better!" 

I didn't want to pressure Beth, so I said: "Listen, if you want to think about it, that's fine. I mean the sooner we start making our own stamps, the sooner our profits will really take off, but it's totally up to you. I am perfectly fine continuing as is."

Beth thought about it for a few more seconds, and said: 

"Um, I think it's fine. It's just moving investment tools and we do that all the time. I mean we usually do it together, but like you said, Ted doesn't check in with me every time he buys a Venti Dark Roast. I'm good. Give me 24 hours and I'll transfer the 15 thousand to our Beautiful Stamps account."

"Oh Beth, I just know we are doing the right thing. I'll transfer my share by tomorrow as well. Eeek! I'm so excited. There's going to be a learning curve, but this is our ticket to success! I'll get in touch with the company that sells the equipment. I'll keep you posted."

Beth responded: "Sounds like a plan. I'm in the middle of putting together some drafts of Christmas designs. I'm thinking beautiful flowers and snowmen and a killer sentiment set. I'll send you them as soon as I'm done."

"Great! Talk to you later."

Beth's designs would be fantastic. We decided early on to keep Beautiful Stamp's designs clean and modern. Unlike our competitors, we didn't include images and sentiments in one stamp. Keeping them separate meant higher profits. If stampers want sentiments that coordinate, they'll have to buy that extra set. I had a few other marketing ideas and Beth was happy to go along with them:

1. No upscale packaging (we emphasized environmentally friendly approach to cover the fact that I didn't want to shell out cash for fancy tissue papers and stickers); 

2. Once our sets sold out, they were gone forever -- stampers will buy anything if they think they will miss out on something (had to make an exception for our initial release, but now that we had real customers, it's "when it's gone it's gone"); and

3. Product placement and celebrity endorsements. No success in getting Beautiful Stamps in Orange is the New Black, but I was working a Simpsons angle. Also, I sent a set of Beautiful Stamps to Barbara Bush to see if I could quote her love of stamping and how much she loves our new clear stamps, but so far no luck. Then I thought about it. What's the chance that Barb would see Beautiful's ads? Pretty small. So I made up a quote and included it on some of our ads.

Haven't heard from any of Barb's lawyers, and under the law, silence is consent, so I think we are golden!

I hung up, sipped on my iced Diet Coke with a straw made from a Twizzler, and called the company that sells the stuff to make your own stamps. 

After some back and forth I told Jim, the salesman, "This is great. I'll have the 30K by tomorrow and can pay the rest in monthly installments. When can I expect The Great Stamp Maker to arrive?"

Jim responded, "Let me check." After a few seconds during which I could hear him clicking, Jim said:
"Looks like we can do next Tuesday."

"Great, Jim. We have a deal. Send me the contract and I'll get it back to you."

Next: Chapter 23 


Sharon said...

SOOOOO happy you've resumed this! I went back to the beginning and reread everything--still so funny the second time! All your references are so funny--Get Down with Stampin---hahaha! Love that Susan Raihala only wants to look at white cardstock--she's my CAS favorite! Laura Bassen wearing a rainbow dress! Love the color names you've thrown in! And now I can't wait to find out if the Great Stamp Maker works as well as the MAN--what could go wrong?? You are brilliant, and this series is so funny! Thank you for all the laughs!

Susan Raihala said...

I agree with Sharon! This is so much fun, and I'm glad you've picked it back up again. Can't wait to read the next installment!

Meg McAlister said...

Yay! I am so glad you have picked up this storyline.

Thank you for the laughs today, Joan. Best to you.

Glorie said...

So happy you are continuing this story. Cannot wait for the next installment.