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The week in review

jason

The last couple of days I have alternately been craving sappari foods and the completely unhealthy. Yesterday I decided to try an experiment... I tried wrapping some soft, vacuum-packed yuba that I bought in Kyoto in October around some mochi with a little bit of nori for color, then fried them in some oil until golden. After I fried them, I set them in a bowl of kakejiru, which is basically seasoned dashi (japanese soup stock) with soy sauce and mirin in it.

The flavor was just about right, but I need to learn some tricks to keep the mochi from bursting the yuba and nori apart. The presentation left a little something to be desired. I tried using some toothpicks to hold everything together, but it wasn't quite enough. I might try using thinner cuts of kiri-mochi next time, and I might skip boiling the mochi first, just to see how it expands. I recall having some fried nori-wrapped natto in Japan, and some fried nori-wrapped yuba in a Chinese restaurant in Seattle, but I can't remember eating any of nori-wrapped fried mochi. The yuba seems to like being fried... the texture was really nice.

I had set out to take some photos of the results, but I wasn't quite happy with how everything looked when I finished, although I did appreciate the flavors. I'll try again someday.

For lunch today, I made a nice soba with a little bit of rolled yuba and some scallions. I also served the soba in my kakejiru, which I've had in the freezer for awhile. It didn't seem to suffer, though.

The last few days I've finally made some serious progress on my internet store, so next week sometime I expect to have some of my new products up on YuzuMura.com. I decided that I'm going to use an off-the-shelf solution that meets most of my needs; after I get it set up, I'll say goodbye to bCentral, which has worked for a basic shopping cart but doesn't meet my upcoming needs.

Unfortunately, I've been waiting for a new shipment of Dragon Beard Candy to arrive for most of the week... A comedy of errors with a new freight provider means that, even though the cargo arrived last weekend, it won't be able to be processed by my customs broker until Monday. Considering how little inventory is available on the store shelves of Uwajimaya stores, this is an irritating problem.

I've gotten a lot of walking in over the last week. Since I have been carless, I've been walking to Ballard to do various errands most days. That gives me a little more than an hour of low-intensity exercise... I should get myself jogging again, though.

Not a good day

jason

I was on my way to deliver the donation for the Women of Color luncheon, and had the misfortune not to see a car crossing into a curvy intersection on Motor Place. My view was obstructed by a van parked at a crossing, and although I was slowing down as I approached the crossing as I would anyway, I couldn't stop fast enough to avoid the car entering the intersection, so we smashed into each other.

We did the usual exchanging of personal information, made phone calls to 911 and waited for the police. It turned out because my airbags deployed I had to have the car towed to a body shop, so now I'm carless for the moment.

I was able to make my delivery to the international district, irritating a taxi driver as I spent a good amount of time transferring items from my car into hiscab. Afterward I took the non-donation items home in the same cab, and I'm sure he was expecting a shorter fare, so I left a more generous than usual tip, even though he didn't help me terribly much... I just figured I was a bit of an inconvenience.

Originally I thought I emerged relatively unscathed, just shaken up a bit. But the scrapes on my hand have turned irritatingly swollen, and I'm feeling tension aches in my back. I must have just tensed up too much.

In the meantime I guess I will get some air in my bicycle tires.

Trying to be focused

jason

Yesterday I shipped out an unusual number of internet orders. One of them was destined for Seattle and I almost delivered it myself, but I was busy enough that I thought better of it.

Today I was preparing a donation of candy for an event honoring minority women in business, which was a good way of using what little remains of my fall inventory; it's benefits a non-profit but has some potential marketing side effects as well.

I am also extremely short of the newer inventory in the Pacific Northwest stores, not counting big gift boxes, so I am desperately awaiting a shipment that is supposed to be here by Monday or Tuesday if all goes well. I expect it will be no problem to sell what I have in big gift boxes though...

These days I'm eating a little carelessly. I haven't been sleeping well, maybe due to subconscious distractions, and I'm sometimes skipping meals or substituting snacks for real food. I need to stop that. Yesterday I had a nice dinner though... I made okonomiyaki.

New things brewing

jason

I was chatting with the owner/manager of a new vegetarian restaurant who is interested in marketing her soy and gluten products that she makes in her store. I think I will help her out with some sales work for her, and take a fair cut without any inventory risk on my part. I'll also research and consult on solutions for some of the foods she makes that she'd like to offer as easy-to-prepare healthy, vegetarian Chinese entrees.

I'm also trying to talk to some contract manufacturers for introducing some of my own private label products, so I started making some inquiries on that; this need should be compatible with the restaurant's needs as well.

Yesterday I moved my display out from my sales broker's showroom, since I've been doing a better job on sales than them so far. I also think that will free me up to sell some other products in the same manner, functioning as a sales broker rather than an importer or import merchant.

As for the dragon beard candy, I'm having some issues with a shortage of small gift boxes and sampler tubes of dragon beard candy, but I'm supposed to be getting a new shipment later this week. I'm trying to figure out how to accommodate some orders received in the last few days that requested some quantities of items of which I don't have enough stock.

Wasted demo day

jason

I set out to Portland to do an in-store demo this morning, but neglected to check a weather or traffic report. Accordingly, about 15 minutes before hitting Portland I started driving through tremendous amounts of slush and sleet. Once I reached the bridge over the Columbia River I started to have second thoughts, and as I slid onto the I-405 ramp I decided I should probably make a quick call to Uwajimaya.

They said almost no one was in the store, and I told them I'd be turning back. When I saw the ice-covered junction for Highway 26, I realized why nobody wanted to be in Beaverton, so I continued along I-405 until it re-joined I-5. I stopped around the Portland Convention Center to grab some quick lunch, but many restaurants were shut, presumably due to the ice.

I headed back to Seattle after getting an extra dose of coffee. My day, and about a tank of gas, was mostly wasted. Next time I'll check the weather conditions before heading out of town.

The last few days I've been busy, but I wouldn't go so far as to say I've always been spending my time well. I have a lot of work to accomplish, including some tasks that should have been settled last month.

More demos, less drama

jason

This was a pretty quiet weekend after two months of mostly good sales results from in-store demonstrations. It felt a little like summer only with less store traffic.

I want to get rid of a little bit more candy before Chinese New Year shopping kicks in, since a few items from the fall shipment are still in stores (though, thankfully, not much of it). Despite pretty good sales, I made the mistake of leaving about 4 cartons of candy back in Seattle during the tour to the Bay Area, so some of it was sitting around when it could have been sold to customers down there. Not much of that is left, but it's irritating that I had such good sales and still have the risk of a little expired inventory after everything, mostly due to my inability to move some items from one place to another while I was out of town.

Thankfully, the risk of expired inventory will decrease to a very small number one I get another 12-14 stores selling the candy. I won't have to order too far in advance of need at that point.

In other news, I really need to get myself some winter exercise gear. It's so cold that I have even more excuses for not jogging these days.

No more distractions, unfortunately

jason

I spent a couple of days in Vancouver with Hiromi and came back late last night. In Vancouver, I took a look at a couple of Asian markets and along Robson Street to try to get a feel for what might be possible in the Vancouver market, and Hiromi and I visited with a couple of her friends from the time when she was on her working holiday program in Canada.

Today I fillled a couple of orders for Chinese New Year that cleared a whole lot of inventory, but I found out I have some more stock than I previously thought when I itemized my inventory more carefully. I will try to get some of that sold this weekend by doing some in-store promotions, most likely in the Seattle store.

I need to figure out how to get my candy in Los Angeles as well, so I think I'll focus on researching good venues for that. This week I also have to finalize my order for the next batch of candy as well, and I need to do an obscene amount of catchup work on bookkeeping.