I’m sharing these wranglings in the interest of transparency. For me, crafting and running this business is a journey: it’s a creative endeavour, a site of spiritual growth, and an ongoing experiment. It is important for me therefore to share my in-progress workings, so customers and other business owners can see ‘behind the scenes’.
Hello again wonderful customers. This is an update for UK-based customers, who were affected last week by a price-hike to cover VAT. I wrote about that here.
Last week, I was told by my accountants that I would need to start adding VAT (20%) to all UK sales.
As I explained in the post, this is not money that comes to me, it is paid straight to the government. I also found out that I had a (very) large bill of VAT already owing. The ins and outs of that are between my accountants and I, but as you can imagine, it was a stressful week!
I quickly moved to add VAT to UK sales going forwards (that bill won’t pay itself!) whilst I investigated other options. Cue unhappy customers and unhappy Beth. These prices are unsustainable. But the business is unsustainable without finding that VAT.
What on earth to do?
(Well – I consulted my tarot cards, of course. I may share this with you later – for now, I just want to get this update up onto the blog so folks know what’s happening!)
On paper, adding VAT is the only sensible option. I have to give the government 20% of my UK (and EU, it now transpires) sales – that’s on top of the usual other taxes), and VAT is supposed to be charged to the customer. I’m not moaning about taxes here – this is just how it works, and I am a big believer in higher taxes as redistribution of wealth. I want to pay my share. And besides, even with VAT added, UK customers are still saving a few pounds on, for example, purchasing from the US.
But emotionally? In my heart and gut? This just doesn’t work for me. And it clearly doesn’t work for my customers!
This shop is a ‘treat shop’, I understand that. These goods are independently published and most cost a lot of money. However, I have always endeavoured to offer them at the lowest sustainable price – (balancing this against my principle of not competing with the creators whose works I sell). I am concerned with the accessibility of spiritual tools and what I see as a ‘gentrification’ of spirituality in the mainstream. I do not want my business to be part of that.
So! I need to find another solution.
This shop is my pride and joy! I love Little Red Tarot early and want to keep trading. I don’t want to lose the trust and custom of folks who have been here for years and with whom I have built friendly, collaborative, trusting with relationships. Not to mention the solid working relationships I’ve built with the many, many wonderful artists who supply all these goodies. LRT has an ecosystem of friendly relationships, and this is a source of sustenance to me as much as the livelihood.
In terms of that livelihood – I am not interested in ever-increasing profit, I only want to sustain my (humble-yet-joyful!) lifestyle and pay my bills. LRT has been sustaining me happily for some time. I breached ‘enough-ness’ long before I breached the VAT threshold.
The only alternative to charging VAT is to bring UK sales down below the threshold. I.e., to reduce UK sales. I.e., to do the opposite of common business sense, which is all about growth. It somehow makes sense to me. Oblivious to my VAT situation, at new year, I wrote down my business goals for 2019, and they centred on one thing:
How to do this? It’s a work in progress! I have experimented in the past couple of years with a wide range of different products – many of them not tarot. As the shop’s income increased, I didn’t pocket the profit, I used it to experiment with different stock, in line with customer requests.
Unfortunately, this has been all too successful – literally, LRT is a victim of its own success, as we now see!
So – I’m now working through my product list, deciding which things to retire (books, mostly). I want to hone the range back down to the original vision – the most wonderful, magical and radical independently-created tarot and oracle decks I can find. I want LRT to be the go-to site for indie tarot and radical magic, but that doesn’t have to mean selling every single deck and book customers suggest. Such changes will, however, happen very slowly.
UK and EU prices are now also marginally higher than previously (nothing like the 20% increase I previously applied to UK sales.) I am working every day with my accountant on this, to work out a sustainable way to slowly, gently bring things back under the VAT threshold by reducing the range on offer.
As this journey continues, I will keep updating the blog, so anyone who is interested can see my wranglings.
For now, with love and gratitude, thanks for reading, and for your support so far.