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Set Ascending Direction

Mid West, Mid August

Thursday, Aug 19, 2010

Posted By Larry Adlerstein

The media is telling me employment is in crisis, so are the banks and housing construction. But at O’Hare Airport, Budget wanted $200 a day for a compact.  Hertz, Thrifty, and Enterprise were sold out. I felt lucky to find a Dollar car for 145 of them there dollars. On the way back to the airport, the shuttle driver said it’s been this way for months.

On to Jet Blue back to Portland. Today’s fare is 30% more than a month ago. I can’t afford to fly the direct United Airways Portland/Chicago flight so I’ll dine at the Jet Blue terminal on my way home.

We’ve just opened Store #16 in Saugus (North Boston) Mass and #17 in the South loop of Chicago.   This fall will see A&C enlargements of our stores in Madison, Wisconsin and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Costs are up but so is business.  No Doom & Gloom here.
We’re on a roll and this old man is having fun.       

-Larry Adlerstein   

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Protecting a business in hard times

Thursday, Oct 30, 2008

Posted By Larry Adlerstein

Apparently someone stole a check of ours on its way to the Staedtler Company, a supplier of rulers and technical supplies. Big deal. Well, it’s turning into a big deal and could have been a business disaster, except we were lucky. Here is a story of how we’re changing our business to protect ourselves in hard times. You might consider how you can protect yourself.

The depression is affecting all banks, even the strong ones. One effect we discovered is the rising tide of fraud. Our one missing check has turned up in three separate frauds and a lot of people are getting hurt.

That missing Staedtler check for 8 thousand dollars was washed. Staedtler’s name came off and a thief deposited the check in a Chase bank. The bank suspected foul play and Chase and our bank T.D. Bank North caught the fraud, but that was only the first.

The thieves sold or gave our routing number to counterfeiters who manufactured checks with a new name, but with our routing number. They sent these checks to people as prizes for winning a make believe contest.

The plan was for the “winners” to deposit the check (our check) into their bank accounts and mail the thief a few hundred of their money to get the second half of their award. For some reason the new checks kept our Portland address and two “winners” found us. We closed the account and so far Artist and Craftsman have lost no money, but I imagine some “winners” are “losers”.

Last night my comptroller called me to announce bogus credit card charges were appearing on our closed account. This morning lots of restaurants and merchants are victims of chargeback’s. The third fraud was against these merchants.

Here is our response.

We will have three bank accounts. The first will be our checking account that will issue checks. After each check run we will deposit in that account enough money to cover the checks, but little more.

The second bank account will be our savings account where we will have our assets. Our line of credit will be attached but our savings account will have no outside contact. Routing from the savings to the checking account will be internal and secure.

A third bank account will be our receiving account where credit card and store deposits will be received. Money from this account will be transferred to the savings account periodically.

To lessen the danger of checks being intercepted in the mail, checks will no longer mail in check like envelopes. Electronic transfer of funds will be preferred and we have signed up for bank monitoring programs which allows us to spot fraud the same day, not at the end of the month as is the case today.

So I welcome you to the future.


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MAP – Minimum Advertised Pricing

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006

Posted By Larry Adlerstein

At this writing, February ’06, the individuals and companies that bring you color, brushes and surfaces are embroiled in a debate about MAP – Minimum Advertised Prices. We are having an important dialogue.

Some manufacturers (and we support these manufacturers) feel the excessive discounting damages the reputation of their products. It makes them look cheap.

The also feel that this deep discounting will centralize distribution. Only the most efficient, the Wal-Marts, will survive and the smaller retailers will fail.

As the retail distribution becomes more focused the few big survivors can dictate terms and smaller manufacturers will be pushed aside and the manufacturing base may slip away to china where manufacturing is cheapest.

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Is the internet responsible for the poor health of the traditional retailer?

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005

Posted By Larry Adlerstein

Q: Is the internet responsible for the poor health of the traditional retailer?

A:  No, I don't believe the internet is a major factor as yet. Many retailers have the option of entering internet sales if they want to learn this new market (as we are).

For those who do not diversify, there is an uncomfortable phenomenon - your rents, salaries and other expenses stay constant but the internet drains 10% or so of your sales. That must be addressed. But overall, including internet sales, the art material industry is down. Ask any manufacturer.
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