Tuesday, April 27, 2010

From the front porch in S. Freeport, Maine…

Honking going north. The summer people have the lights on on the island across the Harraseeket River and the hum of the interstate… No the honking is geese. I love their Honking.

I have a funny story about I-295. Many years ago I dated an artist from the Boubry in New York City. Her studio/apartment was a 4 story walk up and over the clutter/piss of Little Italy/China Town. Well, 2 children later we were together in Maine and I had purchased “the perfect” 40 acres in the woods for our forever family home.

And she was right. After our 20 minute walk to my dream home – a truck on I-295 was engine breaking. Shattering everything.

Honk going north, honk going south & also quack.

From the porch in South Freeport, Maine…

- Larry Adlerstein

Monday, April 19, 2010

Grit in Baltimore

One of the old warehouses in old Baltimore is our new home & we feel pretty good about our renewal solution.

Most of the exterior walls were 16” x 22” glass windows housed in rusty iron frames. Repairing or replacing the hundreds of windows was beyond our budget & if we were able to so replace we’d be left with a leaky single pane exterior wall with the energy efficiency of the 1920’s.

So, we asked Rob, our Philly manager to “Mondrian” the place. We bought about 100 plexi panels & the crew replaced the old glass with painted plexi.

Behind that went a 1.5” layer of plastic foam insulation covered by fire code sheet rock. The plexi/foam/sheetrock has been held in place by long 2x4”s bolted into the masonry walls.

So A&C has an energy efficient Baltimore home, within budget.
- Larry Adlerstein

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Taking Inventory

Now that’s a yawn of a title. I’m getting tireder and tireder.

I’ve really put it off for 27 years. Oh, Artist & Craftsman has an inventory. Actually we have 4 of them.
Our point of sale software (what is retrieved, vouched in & then sold through our computer cash register), that’s one inventory.

A&C’s accounting software, i.e. the checks we write and the deposits we make. That’s a 2nd inventory.
No relation to inventory #1. (I can see your eyes droop)

Then we have a swarm of people with little computers and they swarm the stores. This inventory #3 is always higher than 1 & 2. We think people steal in at midnight and give us art supplies.

#4 is best. Steve and I visit a store and I say – “Looks like 175k, what do you think?”
“No Lar, there’s at least 200 thousand.”
“All right I’ll meet you at 185.”

Ultimately, we’re putting an end to all of this inventory fun.

We hired Shafiq, a programmer, and he has invented a program that lets A&C’s computer talk to our vendor’s computers so that when they ship to us it’s easy to add the shipment to our inventory.

Which inventory? Inventory #5. We started to count all over again.

- Larry Adlerstein

I want you to have children or at least a child.

Oh yes, they’re a pain in the neck and from the age of 2 til 45, they can drive you crazy, but have one anyway because I have 4.

The Yiddish word is “Nachos.” The ch is guttural like you’re about to throw up. Nachos is the joy that can only come from children, a parental pride, like maybe it was worth it after all.

I see less and less long term investments and more & more short term gains. There is no longer term investment than a kid. Try it, I recommend it and I’m an expert at trying.

- Larry Adlerstein

Monday, April 05, 2010

A Tale of Three Cities

I’m flying home from Miami, the third city I have looked at in about a month. By coincidence, my travels have taken me from depressed, to more depressed to most depressed. You might say my trip has been depressing.

The reason for my journey is to open more Artist & Craftsman Supply stores. I started in Los Angeles and even though the city is on the verge of bankruptcy and Los Angeles says it’s depressed, I didn’t see it, especially after visiting Chicago and Miami.

Chicago’s decline is focused in the loop and downtown and that is where a lot of art students buy & use supplies. Downtown Chicago has already lost a major art supply & to my eye another is in trouble. An easy walk from the Symphony & the Art Institute are dozens of “For Lease” signs.

Miami’s problem is a result of their building bubble. Whereas Chicago is an old city renovated & Los Angeles is appears to have balance of old & new, Miami appears all new, heavily leveraged & vacant.

The Florida broker I was working with told me that recently, the commercial realtors¬ had started doing financial background checks of both potential landlords and tenants, especially if the building was a condo. First time he had seen that in his 35 year professional career, i.e. checking the financial health of landlords.

Well, I am almost back down to Portland Maine & Maine is always depressed. And that’s not depressing at all.
- Larry Adlerstein