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Behind the Scenes at a Small Biz: March Means 'Mega' Money

Card$mart licenses its name from Designer Greetings, which is also the vendor of the discount line of cards the store sells. Yet the partners are not franchisees in the sense that they do not pay franchise fees or royalties to Designer Greetings. Norman and Rothberg are required to carry the Designer Greetings 50%-off card line, but can also sell other items and cards of their choice. Designer Greetings has declined to disclose how many independent retailers license the Card$mart name.

Rothberg and Norman acquired the store, located in an upscale shopping center, through an asset purchase last June. Norman tends to deal with the books, while Rothberg sticks with ordering merchandise. They both share equal responsibility for working the register (along with several part-time staffers).

The asset purchase has caused the partners some grievances. But slowly they're figuring things out.

Dealing with the prior owner

Norman has been dealing with the prior owner over discrepancies regarding the value of some of the purchased assets, such as sample invitation booklets. She has been diligently researching the value of each booklet and found that most were not of any value, let alone the inflated value listed in her purchase contract. The prior owner has been slow to fork over the disputed money ($1,000), but as Norman persisted and threatened to take her to small claims court, last month she finally relented.

"It not a tremendous amount, but it was money that we should have not had to be responsible for. It was really about the principle," Norman says.

The small victory has given Norman courage and motivation to further comb through her agreement to ensure that the price they paid for other merchandise was indeed correct.

Eyeing opportunity

Another lift to March revenue came as a result of Norman's keen business sense -- and being in the right place at the right time.

Norman has been trying to rid the store of its Disney (DIS) figurines, which were another source of alleged inflated values left by the previous owner. The figurines have not been selling and Norman has been trying to figure out what to do with them before taking a loss.

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