Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tsunami Books Calls for Customers

I got this e-mail from Scott Landfield, the president of Tsunami Books, who said it would be okay for me to post here:


Hello Folks

I've been wondering what to do, and who to talk with about Tsunami Books. It struck me a few moments ago that all of you have asked to be on our email list, specifically to stay abreast of our schedule of events. This email is the opposite of a schedule of events. What this is is an announcement that there may not be any schedule of events beginning very soon, because Tsunami simply cannot continue the way it is going.

A brief overview of what brought me to this un-businesslike email: Tsunami Books has been at the same location in beautiful South Eugene for over 13 years. David Rhodes and I built this place with a lot of energy, zero money, and a modest amount of debt, which quickly grew out of (our) control. Along the way Tsunami has sold over 2 million dollars worth of mostly used books, hosted between 1500-2000 events, and afforded many of us one heck of a special time. We have always tried to offer a fair deal, be of good service, and be an integral part of a unique literate, artistic, and political community. But there has also always been the specter of no money, and growing debt. In 2005 the pressure was such that we called it quits. The day it hit the newspapers 30+ members of this wonderful community stepped up. A closely-held shareholder corporation was formed. The plan included a 20% (non-working) community shareholding; I would retain a 40% shareholding; and Dave, who was ready to move on, would sell his shares to an individual from out of town, who would then move here and take over Dave's position as a working co-owner. The details were such that Dave could leave with a fair buy-out, and Tsunami would for the first time become financially secure. As it turned out, the out-of-towner got "cold feet" after all papers were signed, first demanding part, then all of his money back. Though our case was legally sound, we--that is to say, the newly formed "Cabal"--decided to not spend our energy fighting, but instead get him his money back, and focus our energies on continuing to build Tsunami.

The point here is that our efforts in 2005 were not completed as planned, and did not make Tsunami Books financially sound. In fact, the '05 effort to secure Tsunami Books was to an extent spoiled by the shock of the pull-out of the out-of towner. Tsunami is still recovering from that. It is only a long day's work and the very special community shareholding that has kept this place going. On the bright side, the '05 effort reduced our debt load, which has since remained stable, though with no room to grow. Dave remained at work on a part-time basis through September '08. He and Caban are presently farming in Hawaii (Dave is still looking to sell his 35+% shareholding). I am presently managing the business alone, working the usual 75+ hours necessary to keep the place afloat.

A very good new staff is being trained. At this hour I am surrounded by thousands of unique volumes. The Tsunami Books Schedule of Events for the next two months looks great. Unfortunately, sales the past two+ months are down about 20%. With a maxed-out line of credit, there is no room to breathe. Unpaid bills are quickly accumulating. The present shareholders here at Tsunami have been of tremendous worth, both for the advice they offer, and the dollars they have invested. But they have done more than enough.

This in part is an inexpensive way to advertise that now, more than ever, is a good time to shop your local, community centered businesses.

Also of note: there are still 13 (out of 460) shares, at $500.00 per share, outstanding. We, the shareholders of Tsunami Books Inc, have decided to look to the community, for those interested in purchasing these shares.

It will help. As will this simple spreading of the word.

Thank you very much,
Scott Landfield, President, Tsunami Books Inc.
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