The view from 52 weeks into The Open Book's turnaround

  • Opinion
  • October 31, 2018
  • Hayden Glass
The view from 52 weeks into The Open Book's turnaround

Secondhand bookshop The Open Book in Ponsonby is in the process of being restored to commercial success by a group of new co-owners who all happen to be economists.We're sharing some vintage stories from its journey so far. Hayden Glass reflects on what's happened over its first year in business.

The bookstore generates a lot of data. Amongst other things, we know sales numbers, revenue, what kinds of books we sold, and how much each customer spent, as well as social media interaction, traffic to the website and the number of subscribers to our excellent podcast, Ears Wide Open.

If I could only look at one measure of how we are going financially, it would be the sum of revenue in the last 52 weeks of operation. It changes only slowly. Each week it goes up by revenue in the week just gone, less the revenue in the same week of the previous year.

So if the week just gone had higher revenues than the same week in the previous year, then the line goes up. And otherwise it goes down. Spoiler: mostly it goes up.

Here is what it looks like up to last week (our weeks run Monday to Sunday).

You can see from the lefthand side of the graph that after our first 52 weeks, revenue was just over 60k, and that now, from the righthand side, it is just under 90k. So we have grown bookstore revenue by about 50 per cent so far.

There have been five weeks where total revenue was lower than the same week in the previous year, and 46 weeks where the total was higher. (We are coming up on two years owning the bookstore. Our 104th week is this week!)

To avoid big numbers skewing things, I do not count revenue on big sale days or the days that large orders came through in these numbers. In the last year those have been worth about 8k, so our current 52 week revenue is about 98k.

Breakeven is about 102k a year with me continuing to donate one day a week behind the counter, or 110k with seven days of staffing. By my calculation, if we continue to improve our performance, we could reach breakeven by Christmas this year. And then, well, who knows how much further we can go.

Alert graph viewers may have noted that the line has slowed its upward progress in recent weeks. We had a very strong July (and August) last year, which makes it harder for us to outperform this month and next.

This story originally appeared in July 2018 on The Open Book's blog.

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