A few months ago I decided to get all Pollyanna-ish, to stop writing about the economy in the doldrums, because it is going to do what it is going to do and instead focus on stocks, business and as some in the financial world say look at things "going forward". The contrarian investor approach if you like.
A positive spin, because I am sick of the mind numbing daily focus, usually inaccurate and at its worst pure guess work, of talking heads telling us how bad it is and how long it is going to last.
With this in mind I am going to do a series on people or businesses that are doing the opposite to everyone else.
Growing instead of retrenching, starting business rather than closing and hiring instead of firing - you get the picture.
I suppose I was inspired by Michael Hill's interview on 60 Minutes this last Monday where he told us that he was more positive and excited about his Michael Hill International [MHI.NZ] Jewelry business than any time in his life.
The man is looking at the global economic downturn as an opportunity to expand, get cheap retail sites and reach 1000 stores by 2020.
With this positive theme in mind lets take a look at the book business and one person in particular that has been in the business for many, many years, Doris Mousdale.
She has had positions with Whitcoulls, Dymocks, Real Groovy. Made redundant from her position with Dymocks in April she has decided to open up her own bookstore, Anthology, in Auckland's Newmarket shopping district.
Now with a very competitive book market in New Zealand and with book chains downsizing, shutting and moving head offices to Australia, Mousdale certainly has taken the bull by the horns and gone in the opposite direction.
She thinks her personal touch as an owner operator and experience in the book industry will mark her out from other book retailers:
"I'm feeling quite confident about it, I think the independent bookstore has a lot to offer the surrounding community. There are still people out there who want the next best read, and they want it recommended to them." See full story.
I think she is right. A point of difference is crucial to survival in business, especially in retail, especially in the cut-throat book biz and most certainly during an economic downturn.
Mousdale has a niche to fill - experience and personal service- because she cannot compete on price and title range with the Borders of this world and her move to position herself where she is , is canny to say the least.
This comes on top of a broad downturn in all retail and a movement away from pricier entertainment and gift giving to more affordable product like a book to read or a movie ticket, instead of that weekend way in Taupo.
If Doris can get through the tough times, her business is going to go from strength to strength and she has certainly chosen a opportune time to make her mark. Contrarian investors have almost always had better returns than those who go with the crowds, as their start up costs are always cheaper -in Mousdale's case with on going business expenses negotiated at a time when relative bargains can be had.
Good luck to her.
Doris Reviews Books - Leightonsmith.co.nz
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Contrarians, Cycles and Waves (Secrets of the Great Investors)
Bargain Hunters, Contrarians, Cycles and Waves (Secrets of the Great Investors) by Janet Lowe; Ken Fisher
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