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Boxes in the Bedroom

In this 10th anniversary month for Chester Comix LLC, when I say I’m proud that my business survived the Great Recession, I have a specific measurement of that.

Boxes.

Nothing matches the thrill of getting the first shipment of your product. For Chester Comix, the first 10 titles (50,000+ books) came off the presses in April 2003. They went right to the Richmond ARC warehouse in Richmond, Virginia, for bagging and storage. A year later seven more titles and 35,000 more books came off the press, and the whole inventory moved to another Richmond warehouse that better met our shipping and storage needs.

At about 100 comix per box, that’s a lot of cardboard to move around.

When the Great Recession hit, school budgets got slashed. By the spring of 2009 it was clear the business revenue stream could no longer sustain the cost of warehousing in Richmond. I found a climate-controlled self-storage unit in Williamsburg only two miles from my house. I bought planks from Home Depot to set on cinder blocks for shelving. And then I started lifting boxes.

For three days. I jigsaw puzzle-packed them into an agency van loaned by a friend (and then the trunk of her car for the last load out of town, as the sun was setting one day). Back and forth, back and forth to Richmond. Was it five round trips or six? It’s a blur. The boxes quickly filled the self-storage unit. But I had more. So boxes went into my garage, of course. But boxes also went into the closet where I kept Cub Scout stuff and Halloween costumes and binders of old cartoons. Boxes went into the front closet where guests’ coats hang. Boxes went under the boys’ bunk bed. Boxes went into the Christmas closet in their room. I was living on top of my investment. To save my business, I turned my house into cardboard.

We’ve got the inventory under control now. In my house in 2013 the boxes live only in the garage and the guest bedroom (“The Chester Comix Fulfillment Center”). The aroma of cardboard no longer drifts through the house. But whenever a new set of boxes comes from the printer and a few of them land in the trunk of my car, my son can pick that fresh cardboard smell out immediately . . .

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 at 8:24 am and is filed under Author's Purpose. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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Chester crab comics