Archive for August, 2012

Oddyssea Video

August 30th, 2012 | Mike

One of our staff, Mitchell Johnson, is a film student at NYU. He filmed, edited, and published this nice short video about our shop. Check it out! If you like it, please share it.


Viva el Jardin!

August 23rd, 2012 | Mike

Che helping foment the guerrilla gardening movement at Oddyssea Half Moon Bay.


You know, guerrilla gardening. :-)

The Opening Hours Experiment

August 22nd, 2012 | Mike

Experiment at Oddyssea Half Moon Bay - Explore. Create. Discover.

Over the years we’ve lived on the Coast we’ve observed on weekends large numbers of people wandering around downtown looking in the windows of closed shops. And we asked ourselves “Why don’t those businesses open earlier on the weekend to capture this opportunity?”

Thus as we opened Oddyssea we decided that we would attempt to capitalize on this observation by opening the shop at 9am Friday-Sunday. Since we have the ability to analyze our sales by date/hour courtesy of Vend and we have a method for tracking “opportunities” – when a visitor or related group of visitors enter the store – we have been able to collect and analyze the data to test the hypothesis “There is a business advantage to having earlier opening hours during the weekend.”

Now, unlike a regular scientific experiment, there are significant limitations to our method: we don’t have a control vs. test group nor is the experiment truly repeatable given the variables of weather, special events, etc. Even with these limitations, we can definitely compare the 9-10am data to the 10-11am data from the same days to draw some conclusions. We analyzed 4 metrics, opportunities, sales events, sales dollars, and conversion % for each time period.

Results Table

Metric 9-10am 10-11am
Opportunities** 1 1.4
Sales Events** 1 3.2
Sales Dollars** 1 8.6
Conversion % 28% 51%

** Note these metrics were normalized vs. providing the raw data for this posting.

The results were unequivocal: For the 17 periods analyzed, we found that the opportunities were ~40% greater in the 10-11am time period than the 9-10am time period. On the sales events side, the numbers were even more telling, where the 10-11am period out performed the 9-10am period by a factor of 3. The real story is in relative sales dollars; 10-11am out performed 9-10am by a factor of 8! Conversions were also higher in the 10-11am period checking in at just over 50% vs. 28% for 9-10am.

Given this data, we are making a change to our opening hours reverting to a simpler 10am-6pm daily schedule as we can’t see any compelling reason to be open those 3 extra hours each week.

This being said, there are still some variables that could weigh into a decision to re-run the experiment at a future date. We still don’t have our external signage sorted out and this could contribute to some potential visitors not entering the shop. We are still new, it’s possible that over time that if we stayed open in these periods visitors would know this and take advantage of the relative slow time to enjoy the shop. We don’t know, but we will consider when/if to try earlier opening hours again in the future.

In any case, if you wondered why we changed our hours, you now have a peek behind the curtain as to our rationale. We hope this was informative and educational!

The First 30 Days

August 19th, 2012 | Mike

Like our old cash register, we will improve and grow over time.Like our old cash register, we will improve and grow over time.

We’ve recently passed the first 30 days of having the shop open and the early returns would suggest that people like to visit.

If you are familiar with software development, we’re running the shop using an Agile/Lean approach with daily iterations, daily trade shows (quite literally,) and weekly or as needed retrospectives. All while monitoring the data, observing behaviors, and staging tests. We’ve written about this before, but one of the best tools we have to give us up-to-the-minute intelligence on our shop is the software we’re using, Vend. If you run a retail operation and don’t use this software, you’re missing out. Vend let’s us see how our business is performing empirically which we use in conjunction with our observations of behavior in the shop.

Things our visitors seemed to like include our plants, terrariums, lab glass, science related items, and rocks of all kinds. We are tuning our shop to feature more of the things you like and to strategically introduce things you might like if you had a chance to interact with them. So stay tuned, we will be doing a pretty major update of the explore room in particular over the next couple of weeks.

Another learning, or perhaps it’s a reinforcement of a concept that we believed to be true, but didn’t know until we were open, is that people LOVE to create their own works. The notion of raw materials, kits, and finished products has clearly struck a chord with our visitors and has resulted in many visitors making repeat visits. We love this fact.

With events like the Summer Art Stroll and our busy Saturday/Sunday times, we’re learning about how to optimize our customer service. We hadn’t considered the impact of a single point-of-sale and definitely see a need to increase the bandwidth so our visitors are not left waiting to transact business. So we’ll be doing some experiments in those areas over the next 30 days. We have to crack this nut with the upcoming Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival in mid-October.

We also learned that we have been very fortunate in staff selection, Kaila, Sabrina, and Mitchell have each shown their abilities and desire to make our visitors happy and to help deliver that great experience. What we’ve also learned, is that we’re going to need more stellar people like them to grow and so we are looking for outstanding people to join our team. Please pass this along as appropriate.

While we had intended to begin offering workshops, with some of the surprises we faced, we were not able to get them up and running in our first 30 days. We will be doing some test runs over the next 90 days to see what works. So stay tuned…..join our mailing list (bottom of any page on this web site) if you would like push notification of these events.

The most important thing we learned is that our base level hypothesis in founding the store has at least some merit. That by creating a place we would like to be and a positive experience, we could differentiate from the big box and online retail players. That’s encouraging and we’ll continue to test this hypothesis as the store matures and of course we’ll continue to tune the experience based upon what we learn.

Thank you to our visitors, our friends / family, our artists, our suppliers, and our staff for making the first 30 days memorable. We’re looking forward to the next 30 days and well beyond.

The Sexy Sextant

August 10th, 2012 | Mike

A sextant on display at Oddyssea in Half Moon Bay, California.

Recently we had some visitors who asked “How does a sextant work? They look so cool!”

Well, if you know anything about Mike, this is a tantalizing question that he was prepared to expound upon until our guests begged for mercy (ok, until they decided to leave with a sextant ;-) )

Fundamentally, a sextant (name derived from six as the measurement arc is 1/6th of a circle) is a device used to measure angles. In the years before Global Positioning Systems, it was a favored tool for navigation on the high seas. The device itself is pretty simple, it consists of an eye piece which may or may not have magnification, a reflecting mirror, and a pivoting arm calibrated to an arc measurement scale.

To use a sextant, one sites a horizon, real or artificial, through the view finder and then adjusts the pivot arm so that the object one is interested in is level with the horizon. It’s a split view to facilitate this. Then one looks at where the pivot arm is positioned against the arc measurement to get the angle in degrees. You can use this to measure horizontally, it’s also possible to use vertically for angle measurement.

Fundamentally, that’s how to use the tool. Now, if you’re navigating, you use the angle, the time, and a chart to plot your position and Bob’s your Uncle as they say.

If you’d like to play with a sextant, come on down to the shop; we have several models in our Nautical Necessities case.

Guerrilla Gardening

August 7th, 2012 | Mike

Before the MissionTarget for guerrilla gardening.After the MissionArea after a covert beautifying guerrilla gardening raid.

Have you ever seen an area outside that just needs prettying up? Perhaps you don’t have direct access or permission to enter the area in question?

We’ve found just the answer for this situation, a movement called “guerrilla gardening.” This is the practice of beautifying an area on the sly and without sanction. It’s sort of a prank of good will that everyone can enjoy.

The guerrilla gardening spirit is one we want to support, and that’s why we offer “seed bombs” – a collection of wildflower seeds, fertilizer, and clay that are easily tossed into the spot you’d like to improve. Now, not all areas are within tossing range so we’ve supplemented the ammunition with a mechanical chucking device, the good old fashioned slingshot!

If you have a hankering to engage in a little subversive beautification, stop by and we’ll arm you for your mission ;-) And oh, by the way, take before and after photos and bring them in and we’ll give you a 10% discount on your next purchase!

Featured Artists

August 3rd, 2012 | Mike

Since the SOMA Summer Art Stroll is coming up this weekend, we thought we would share a little about the art on display at Oddyssea. We currently have two featured artists: Nicole Keating and Sabrina Muscat.

Nicole Keating is a Coastside resident and a multi-talented artist. We met her during a group project she conducted with our Daughter’s class last year. We liked her work so much, we purchased several pieces for our home! It was a fantastic bonus to be able to collaborate with Nicole as we charted the course for Oddyssea.

Nicole has a large collage of pieces that were inspired by nature and science mounted on the wall of the create room. In addition to being beautiful, these pieces are distinct in having been executed on slabs of California redwood.

Here’s one of our favorite pieces on display at the shop:


Nicole Keating Art

Sabrina Muscat is also a Coastside resident and artist. Sabrina is a recent addition to the shop and to our world having just met during the process of opening the shop. Sabrina has demonstrated her creative prowess with several of our most loved sea-rarriums and with several ocean themed pieces on display at the shop. Sabrina likes to use textures in her work – like tissue paper, lichen, or kelp. We feel so lucky that Sabrina dropped into our world and hope to have her engaged for a long time!

Here’s one of our favorite pieces:

The Art of Sabrina Muscat

We hope that you are able to come admire and enjoy their respective works.

While you are visiting for the SOMA Summer Art Stroll, make sure to check out the other great galleries, artists, and venues on South Main Street in Half Moon Bay. There is so much creativity and beauty that is hidden away – make your great discovery on Sunday!