Search This Blog

Monday, August 29, 2016

$$$ Herspective: How to save over two hundred bucks a month $$$

Imagine what you would do with an extra two to three hundred dollars in your bank account per month... You could save for a vacation, splurge on a nice suit and/or start your own side project or business. According to a survey conducted by Visa back in 2012 over sixty percent of Canadians buy their lunch out once or more a week, adding up to a huge amount of money wasted over time. I am no exception and used to buy my lunch almost every single day at one point in my career and boy did it ever eat into my budget, no pun intended.

I discovered early on in my old career that I wasted a lot of money on eating out. When I was much younger and just starting out I would sometimes buy my breakfast, lunch and even dinner from the food court of the building I worked in at the time. I never gave it much though but after a while I noticed that not only was I not saving any money per month I was also just barely breaking even. I took a hard look at my spending habits over a six month period and discovered that I was spending between two and four hundred dollars on food alone in a month. That means that I was eating out at least once per day, five days a week, that is a lot of wasted moula!

Alarmed by this scary trend and my depleted finances I also took a look in my fridge and to my horror it was nearly empty except for the obligatory box of baking soda. I realized that without meaning to I had become a character from every bad romantic comedy from the late nineties! I was a single person focused on my career with very little experience in the kitchen, no time to grocery shop and sweaters in my stove. My mother would have been mortified. I come from a family of food loving cooks and connoisseurs and a mother who always cooks too much with a fridge stuffed so full with food that something always falls out when I open the freezer. Again, MORTIFIED!

I needed to change my eating habits quick so, I sat down and wrote myself out a food budget which I vowed to stick to and boy did it suck!!! Before, I would sleep for an additional half hour in the morning because I knew that I could always grab a quick bite right before work from the local coffee joint but not anymore. Oh no, now I had to drag my usually exhausted ass out of bed a half hour earlier and choke down whatever I could make in the limited amount of time I had before I had to leave. The fun didn't stop there though, before I implemented the "budget of pain" I could work non stop until two or three and then grab something quick from the sushi place I loved to frequent and then keep powering through until quitting time. Sadly, I now had to stop what I was doing and get up, heat up my food/assemble whatever I had time enough to throw together the night before and then eat it in the lunch room with the rest of the peons. I was in hell. Dinner was probably the worst part of this self imposed torture. Where before I would grab something at the office or just order something from one of the local restaurants, all of a sudden I was forced to chop vegetables and boil water and all kinds of horrible things before I could eat (first world problems)!

Those were dark days but after every rainstorm the sun does come out again. After two months an interesting thing started happening, my bank balance started going up, way up. Ok, I didn't all of a sudden start lighting my cigars with hundred dollar bills but I had saved just under five hundred bucks so I was feeling pretty darn good and my bank account looked a heck of a lot better. This was the start of something wonderful for me, I was so used to childishly blowing all of my money and now I felt like I was adulting like a champ. I also learned to cook and developed a passion for it and cooking became a pleasure instead of a punishment. I also learned how to nail my morning routine and surprise surprise, taking time to stop and actually focus on your food at lunch is a great way to relax and recharge your batteries.

Over the years I've managed to reduce the amount I eat out to three or four days a month (usually weekends) and almost always with my partner in crime, Mr. Stamp. We have a budget of course which he has brought up before and we stick to it religiously. I never feel like I am missing out and I really enjoy hosting dinner at our house and whipping us up a healthy lunch, daily. I know it is not always possible to make every meal and that because we work from home I have a lot more freedom but if you want to save yourself some major cash try making up a food budget focused around homemade meals and stick with it, you just might be surprised.

Ms. Stamp

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Review of Results From May to August 2016

We have been going full bore for the last two months trying to get material listed, inventory counted, financial statements prepared and e-bay listings converted to comply with E-bay's regulations. Consequently, we have not had a lot of time to step back and look at our results from 40,000 feet so to speak. So I thought that today, I would take an opportunity to look at how we have been doing for the past few months, now that we have compiled some good quality statistics.

In addition to tracking sales on a daily basis, we have also tracked the following statistics on a monthly basis starting in May 2016:

  • Percentage of total sales coming from repeat customers.
  • Percentage of total customers who are repeat customers.
  • Total number of new customers transacting business with us that month.
  • The number of unique items sold.
  • The average sales dollars per item sold.
The significance of these statistics are as follows:

In order to grow sustainably, every business needs to have a significant portion of its revenue coming from repeat business. If all of the revenue were coming only from new customers then it can indicate that we are not doing a good job of servicing our customers, since they are not coming back, or it can mean that there is not sufficiently strong demand for our stamps. In any event, if we only sell to new customers, then our business will eventually stagnate and decline. Repeat customers help keep the sales stable when the general level of sales activity is down. But at the same time, if key repeat customers are away or on vacation, then we can expect sales for that month to be lower. In addition, it takes time for a new customer to become a repeat customer. Generally, it is unusual for a new customer to buy again before receiving their first item that they paid for before. It does happen occasionally, but it is very rare. Assuming that it takes at least 1 week for the customer to receive their item, and another week to experience the desire to shop again, there is a minimum of a 2 weeks to a month that must pass before a new customer will come back. In addition, new customers generally spend far, far less than established repeat customers who have confidence in our product and our level of service. Generally, most new customers spend less than $5 for their first purchase, and it may take 2-3 repeat purchases before they spend significantly more. 

All of this means that the full impact of developing a repeat customer on the top line will not be fully felt for anywhere from 2-3 months. So much of the repeat business that we are getting in August, will be customers that we first serviced in May or possibly June. The customers that we have serviced in July and August have yet to come back and spend to their full potential. So, one important indicator of future growth is how many new customers the business is attracting each month. 

So although gross sales levels are important and we should be concerned if we see a declining trend, what is much more critical to the long term health of the business is to see growth in the amount of repeat business, the amount of new customers and the amount spent by repeat customers. So with that, lets look at some actual results:

Percentage of Total Sales Coming From Repeat Business

April 24 - May 23, 2016: 47%
May 24 - June 23, 2016: 75%
June 24 - July 23, 2016: 70%
July 24 - August 23, 2016: 69%

Here we can see that there was significant growth in the percentage of total sales coming from repeat customers in June. We can also see that that percentage has levelled off and is in the 69-75% range. In terms of the number of customers, we have serviced 444 unique customers since July 2015 when we started keeping records. In any given month, the total number of separate, repeat customers coming back to us is between 29-33, which translates into roughly 7% of our customer base. So if we have 30 new customers each month, the statistics tell us that approximately 2 of these will become repeat buyers. 

Percentage of Total Customers Who Are Repeat Buyers

April 24 - May 23, 2016: 37%
May 24 - June 23, 2016: 49%
June 24 - July 23, 2016: 58%
July 24 - August 23, 2016: 49%

This statistic is telling us that a larger and larger percentage of our customers are repeat customers. The percentage appears to be leveling off, but given the lead time on the development of customer relationships, this may be misleading and we may see this percentage continue to grow. This percentage is significantly higher than the 7% overall figure that I gave above, which likely means that we are now doing a better job now that we are more established, in retaining new customers than we were back in August or September 2015. Given that gross sales have been lower for July and August this year, seeing these percentages is a good sign as it means that the decline is most likely only temporary and will disappear as we list more material. 

Total Number of New Customers

April 24 - May 23, 2016: 49
May 24 - June 23, 2016: 34
June 24 - July 23, 2016: 23
July 24 - August 23, 2016: 34

The number of new customers does appear to be dropping, but these numbers do not tell the whole story. Since July 2015, the number of new customers has been fewer than 30 in four of the last 12 months, and has been between 30-34 in three of those months. So the number of new customers in each of the past four months has been higher than it was in six of the other eight months in question. So while there is a fair amount of fluctuation in the number of new customers from month to month, overall the total number is indeed growing. One factor that may explain some of the monthly declines may be the amount of inexpensive entry level material being listed. We listed very little material in July and much of what has been listed in August has been priced higher than most new customers are comfortable paying. However, listing of less expensive modern stamps has resumed, so we should see an increase again in the number of new buyers, who will find a wide range of low priced stamps to entice them. 

Number of Unique Items Sold

April 24 - May 23, 2016: 169
May 24 - June 23, 2016: 339
June 24 - July 23, 2016: 189
July 24 - August 23, 2016: 192

The average number of items sold each month has been steadily rising. When we started full time in July 2015 it was 80-85 items a month and by April it had grown to an average of 144 items a month. As you can see here, it is continuing to grow steadily, with June being an extremely good month that saw some customers buying as many as 30 items each. So not only are the number of new customers and repeat customers growing, but they are spending more each month on a larger range of material. 

Average Sales Dollars Per Item Sold

April 24 - May 23, 2016: $18.61
May 24 - June 23, 2016: $11.87
June 24 - July 23, 2016: $8.34
July 24 - August 23, 2016: $13.14

There is a fair amount of variation in the average sale price, as this statistic is very sensitive to the number of items sold. However, what it does show is that we are able to sell a larger and larger amount of items in the lower price ranges (i.e. below $20). Historically, many dealers have found this to be the most difficult material to sell. However, for us it would seem to be the easiest. It is also the most profitable. 

So what these statistics are telling us is that the business is performing very well in terms of selling a larger and larger number of items each month, and growing its base of new and established customers each month. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sales for August Pick Up After A Slow Start And A Wonderful 45th Birthday!

The past several weeks have been a blur. First the E-bay conversion. Then inventory. Then the financial statements and now the meetings with the bank and all our investors, as we try to secure the funding that we need to sustain us while we implement the rest of our business plan. We are finally coming to the end of this process, and the good news is that it looks very much like we will secure all the investor financing that we were seeking. We won't hear back from the bank until next Wednesday, and we are fully prepared for them to turn us down. If this happens, Steph and I have decided that we will give our notice and move anyway, even if that means that we have to rent for a while. Then, once we are in New Brunswick, we can establish a relationship with the local banks there. We may find that they are more inclined to approve a loan out there - especially if they really do believe that our business will create jobs for New Brunswickers. I had wanted to start the application process here in Toronto because I believed that from a psychological perspective, the amount we were looking to borrow is so low compared to what other people here borrow, that securing approval would be easier. However, I see now that this may not actually be the case.

I've had many comments over the last several months that suggest that some people do not consider our business viable because we aren't making enough after a year to support a lifestyle in Toronto. I can understand where these people are coming from, but I really do believe that these comments stem from not understanding the processes by which a business is built. The reality is that building businesses from scratch and getting them to a point where they can employ other people is incredibly hard work: hard in the sense that your responsibility is unlimited and in the sense that very few activities that you engage in, or tasks that you complete will yield immediate results. This stands in stark contrast to the situation that most employees have, where they complete a task and get paid - an instant result. Most of the things we entrepreneurs do only achieve visible results over time and it is often really tempting to quit on the grounds that what we are doing is not working. Take social media marketing for example. Does anyone really know how long one has to be blogging to generate sales leads from social media? Probably a lot longer than one would think. Does this mean that you should quit if you have blogged for a year and have a solid reader base, but no sales from the blog? I don't know. But what I do know from experience is that most things in business take time and developing good habits does yield results over time.

What are some examples of good habits? I can think of several:

  • Sending out orders in a timely manner - either the day they are received or the next day. 
  • Letting customers know when they can expect their item. 
  • Taking the time to personally thank customers for their business and elicit feedback from them that will enable you to serve them better in the future. You would be surprised how few businesses bother to do this. While most customers will not engage, and will ignore your communication, the ones who do will become loyal clients. Even the ones that don't will respect you for going to the trouble. 
  • Responding to questions from customers or prospective customers quickly, efficiently and within a day of them contacting us. 
  • Being thorough and accurate in our item descriptions. Again, most e-bay sellers in my field do not do this at all. 
  • Providing scans of both sides of a stamp where it is helpful. 
  • Sharing your knowledge of your field by writing and posting blog articles about relevant topics. This reinforces the perception that you know your field and that you are willing to share your knowledge. 
Not doing these things once, or twice has no noticeable impact on the business, but I believe that doing them all -consistently, over a long period of time is very powerful. 

Why do I mention all this? Because I believe that all the above is the reason why the experts say that it takes 3-5 years to make a business profitable to the point that it can pay salaries to its founder and other employees. The purpose of this upcoming move is to ensure that our funding will last long enough for us to build the business to this point. We can see clearly now that the customers are out there and that they like our product. But we just don't have enough of our inventory listed for sale, or enough customers for our sales to be large enough to cover salaries. We can also see that our sales are highly profitable, so the business model itself is completely sound. No, the issue for us is that we need time: time to develop our customer relationships and time to get our inventory listed for sale. 

Today is my 45th birthday, and it has been absolutely amazing! We started the day off with almost $1,000 of sales from one repeat customer, who has spent several thousand with us this past year. Steph made me breakfast in bed, Viktor was extra affectionate today and I am going out to my favourite steakhouse for dinner tonight. I was also amazed to find 165 birthday wishes on Facebook this morning. I have spent most of today responding to all these birthday wishes with thank-yous and comments. Now it is time for a well earned nap - I'm wiped. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dealing With Banks - The Agonizing Process

Earlier this month, I met with my local account manager at my bank to discuss applying for a mortgage to buy a property in New Brunswick. Our reasons for making this move are good, solid business reasons that make a lot of sense and demonstrate that we are prepared to make a lifestyle change in order to ensure that we protect the best interests of all our stakeholders:

  • The business ultimately pays for everything and it costs twice as much to live here in Toronto as it does to live in New Brunswick. These first few years of the business life cycle are the most critical to its development and ultimate health and success. So drawing out a salary that is twice as high as it needs to be is not in the best interests of the company. 
  • Our customers are located all over the world and receive their stamps by mail, so they do not care where we live. 
  • If we acquire the house as a business premises and rent the residential portion, the company will have an opportunity to build equity in a real property. Many will argue that real estate in New Brunswick is a poor investment, but I would beg to differ. For one, the price disparities in this country are so glaring now that New Brunswick cannot be this inexpensive forever, especially since there are plenty of businesses whose location is not important and whose owners, like us are prepared to make sacrifices to ensure the health of their businesses. As this happens, more amenities will emerge to satisfy the lifestyle demands of the entrepreneurs who relocate there and prices will rise. 
  • Even if that doesn't happen, the property's value can be viewed as being worth at least the present value of the cash flow savings that accrue from not having to live here, which is considerable. Right now we are paying $2,400 a month in rent and we could easily be paying $1,400 in new Brunswick for mortgage, property taxes and utilities, which represents a monthly savings of $1,000. Thus over a 5 year period, that represents a savings of $60,000. So even if we cannot resell the house for the $190,000 we are seeking to pay, as long as we get at least say $150,000 for it we are ahead of the game. Although capital losses are not allowed on personally held residential property, they are allowed if the company owns the property. 
  • The critical challenge we face is to get the inventory that we have properly listed and described on E-bay and our website before our cash reserves run out. We already know that sales rise in direct proportion to the amount of inventory we have listed. Right now, except for these two slow summer months, our average monthly sales are around $3,000 and these sales are being generated by approximately 20% of the inventory on hand. So as long as we can get all the material listed within the next two years, it is completely reasonable to project that sales should rise to about $15,000 a month once we are all done listing. From that point on, the business can pay a reasonable salary to Steph and I without hurting the organization's growth potential, or its ability to pay returns to investors. Our focus can shift from setting up the business, to maintaining and growing the business.
  • We are due to receive additional funding from investors, which we can make last for two years if we move, whereas it will all run out within a year if we stay here and then we will have to take a salary here which would rob the business of monies needed to finance growth. 
  • Finally, there are several government incentives available to businesses that provide jobs in New Brunswick, that are not available here. 
This all sounds like a pretty good plan no? But the bank doesn't seem to be so convinced. They haven't turned us down yet, but they sure are taking their time to make a decision. 

A lot of people get very emotional and angry with the decisions made by banks when it comes to loans and mortgages. Much of this anger comes from not understanding how banks work and taking their decisions personally. Banks exist to make money, but they also have a fiduciary duty to their depositors to safeguard their funds. The Bank of Canada also mandates restrictions on the supply of money made available by banks as a way of controlling inflation and other economic indicators. Because of this they are required to follow very strict rules in assessing risk and managing it. 

The problem is, most of their risk assessment looks at purely quantitative factors and fails to take other important qualitative  factors into account. For example, if I were employed as a staff accountant at a medium sized Toronto firm making $150K I would have no problem qualifying for a $500,000 mortgage, which would buy me a place in the lower-end of the now overpriced market in Toronto. The banks would evaluate me as a low-risk borrower, even though:

  • There is no guarantee that my income level would remain at that level for 25 years. Accounting firms seek to cut costs all the time and replacing senior staff, who are more expensive, with junior staff, as short-sighted as that is, is a decision that I have actually seen made many times in my 21 year career. The only way to guard against it is to continually develop one's skill sets. The banks I have dealt with over the years make no attempt to determine if I am the type of employee who protects his earning power in this way.
  • Toronto and Vancouver are both in a market bubble. I have read multiple accounts that refute this assertion because it hasn't popped yet. But I know my history and if you know what happened in Europe in the 1600's with tulips or the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and you compare it to what is happening in these markets now, the similarities are far too glaring to ignore. So from my perspective the banks are taking huge risks in writing mortgages for more than 50% of the value of properties located in these markets. 
On the other hand, we are having trouble qualifying for a business loan to buy a $190,000 house in New Brunswick, even though:

  • We have inventory with a liquidation value that can be objectively verified that is more than double the amount that we are seeking to borrow. 
  • Our business is profitable. The sales are low, but not significantly lower than what the original business plan projected. 
  • Our reasons for making the move show that we are managing the business in a financially prudent manner, which should lower the perception of risk. 
  • I am a Chartered Accountant with 21 years of professional experience and almost 40 years of philatelic experience, so the chances of the business not being successful are well below average, and even if the business did fail, I have a track record of being able to easily earn enough to handle the payments, even though I do not currently have that income now. 
  • They will have the property itself as security. 
  • It is highly unlikely that I would ever let things get to a point where the bank would have to repossess and liquidate anything. However, if they did have to do that, there is more than enough value to cover any loan they could advance. 
  • We have both been customers of the bank for years and I had a mortgage with them in the past with no defaults on record. 
Because we are self-employed, which means we are self-starters, and not employees and the bank doesn't understand our business, even though I have explained it to the gentleman I met with, it is very likely that we will be seen as too risky and turned down. 

However, all is not lost. One of the best aspects to being a CA is not the amount of money you make, but rather all the connections that you form over the years you practice. This is often overlooked by many who work in the profession, and who fail to develop their relationships with their clients to the point that their clients trust them and believe in their general business acumen. One of the things that I always made sure that I did was go above and beyond the call of duty for my clients. I also never made any secret about my interest in stamps or my history with it. I didn't do this with any kind of agenda - I did it because I cared about my clients and wanted to connect with them on a genuinely personal level. However, now that I am out of the profession, I am finding that there are several former clients who have expressed interest in becoming investors. They trust me, they see the soundness of our business plan and they have the money to invest and are keen to earn a good return on it. I have several meetings lined up over the next two weeks to pursue private financing opportunities. 

So the point of this post is to try not to put all your financing eggs in one basket. If you deal with a bank as a start-up business, be fully prepared to be rejected, as lending to start-ups is not usually within the mandate of most banks. Look at all your business contacts and try to identify people that:

  • You have known for at least 2 or 3 years; 
  • Who trust you;
  • Who know your skills;
  • Who have money they can afford to risk.
I'm confident that if you do this diligently you can probably find at least a few people you know who meet all four of these criteria. Even if you relationships are weak on the first two criteria, you can look for ways to strengthen those relationships. The best way to do this is by staying in contact and offering to help in any way you can, or simply by staying in touch and showing an interest in them, while being open about what you are doing, but not asking them for help. My experience is that if someone wants to invest and they know you need investment capital, they will offer to invest if they are sufficiently comfortable with you. 

If this fails, then the Business Development Bank of Canada is an option that you should look seriously into. It is a lot of work to qualify, as they will want to see a solid business plan, but as long as you have a good one, you should be able to qualify. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

August Is Off to A Slow Start and An Amazing Surprise

July and August would appear to be slow months, with sales so far being just under $350 this month. Most of this has been repeat business. Out of curiosity I compared the sales for the first week of this month with the first week of August last year and found that it is $100 lower this week. However, last year we had a single sale for $192 that skewed the total. In terms of sales volume, we are doing better, with 26 items sold last week, compared to just 16 this week last year.

We are gearing up for the wedding now, which is just under two months away, so I expect that this will cut moderately into the time we have to devote to blog writing and listings. We had our preliminary meeting with the bank last week and are now waiting to hear back from them as to arranging a meeting for Steph and I to explain the ins and outs of the business to them. We have also explored several other lending options and found that there are several different options open to us. So I am fairly confident that we can find something that works for us.

We have decided after working on the Nigeria inventory to revive the blog for this area and I am toying with the idea of listing some of the material from Lagos, just to see what the response is from collectors, as it would be nice to increase the cash flow, and I have a hunch that this material will perform better than Canada, especially if a deep offering is made that contains lots of the scarcer items and it is all properly described.

Over the weekend on Saturday night a got a call from my ex, which totally stunned me. It seems that she has been on her own journey and is finally ready to take responsibility for her part in the events that lead to the demise of that marriage. I am attending her graduation from the program that she has been enrolled in, so I am cautiously optimistic that she has found something valuable for her. We'll see.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

We Successfully Get Through The Month From Hell

Most articles about running your own business mention that you will work much longer and harder as an entrepreneur than you ever will as an employee. Upon hearing this it is easy to dismiss, but it can be hard to appreciate how your motivation to succeed can push you far past what you think you can handle.

This past month, we faced two major challenges:

1. We had to convert over 4.000 US dollar e-bay listings, one at a time before August 4, otherwise these listings would end and it wasn't clear what would happen to them then.

2. Our year end tax return was due and we needed to complete a full inventory in order to produce a meaningful set of financial statements - one that we could take to the bank this week.

Either one of these things would make for an extremely busy month, as the sales would not just stop - we would still need to blog and respond to customer enquiries as well.

With extremely hard work and determination, I managed to get through the conversion, re-numbering all my items one-by-one, by the end of the second week of July, while Steph continued to list modern Canada and Fabio worked on Small Queens. I managed to do it by only working late the normal two nights of the week. However, nothing could prepare me for what would happen when it came time to do inventory.

I figured that 2 solid weeks of work would be more than enough time to adequately count and professionally value the inventory on hand. This was critical, as we needed an inventory value in order to determine what our true cost of sales number was. We also knew that with very modest sales, that are growing steadily as a function of the amount of material that is listed for sale, that it would be critical for a prospective lender or investor to see an accurate inventory value, as this would make it easy for them to judge the prospective sales growth. However, it became apparent after just a few days that it would take a miracle to complete this on time. Even with Steph and I working until 3:00 am most days, it seemed like we would never get through it. We had thought of trying to ballpark certain sections, but our estimates always lagged far behind the actual values that were obtained after carefully examining and cataloging the stamps. So we realized that we would actually have to do this detailed examination and count for hundreds of thousands of stamps and covers.

Every day we worked with little feeling that we were getting close to the goal. The entire time we both worried about what would happen if the actual value turned out to be far below what we expected. However, we were both determined, and that determination saw us through 2 full weeks of 18-20 hour days. Finally, with two or three days to go, we started to see a light at the end of the tunnel and knew that it wasn't a train. We worked until nearly 3:00 am to complete the full valuation yesterday - August 1. Thank God Monday was a holiday because it meant that we got an extra day to file the return, since the 31st fell on a Sunday. It took another 2 hours to produce a set of almost correct financial statements. I woke up at about 10:00 am this morning and headed up to my old office to file the required returns and prepare information for the bank. I finished everything at just after 5 pm.

I must say though that I am very pleased with what we have produced, even if we don't get the funding we are seeking. The sales, although modest, have been growing and are more than double, in these first 5 months, what they were for the entire year in 2015. We can show that they will only continue to grow as we continue listing material and begin buying again. We have been able to make a profit the entire time, and pay a very small salary, which again, is pretty good for a business that has only been full time for a year. Neither the growth rate of monthly sales, nor the gross profit margin are quite as high as what were projecting last year, but that is OK - our projections last year were just guesses. Now we have lots of good, hard data from which we can learn. Finally, our inventory value turned out to be 60% higher than what we thought when we first formulated our business plan. This was mostly thanks to our inability to estimate accurately when we first put together the business plan, but in part it was also because we bought very successfully.

There is great satisfaction that comes from meeting this kind of goal and knowing that you did your absolute best, without having to rely on someone else to say it, or otherwise. This is why I won't give this up without a very long and hard fight. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Still Counting Inventory....

I had said last week that we are counting inventory and that there would be no more posts until this week when we would be finished.

It turns out that our stock is more vast than we possibly could have imagined and it has taken much longer to count than we thought it would. We will finish everything today, and tomorrow we have to prepare and file our tax return. So we will resume posting on Wednesday this week.

Stay tuned.