In year 11+12, I studied accounting. It wasn’t the most interesting of subjects to me, but I did very well in it. The teacher was Mr Read, who was a brilliant accounting teacher. He breathed life into what could have been a very dull topic to study. There were always plenty of anecdotes to amuse us as we learnt. For instance at a time when most of the classrooms were being switched from blackboards to whiteboards, he joked that the accounting department would be resisting the switch, as while teachers got chalk on their clothes, they could claim drycleaning as a work expense.
And he imparted his theory of retail, which was that ideally if you sold goods, you’d never have to handle the goods, let alone sink massive amounts of money into running a warehouse to hold it. Instead you’d take the orders and ship the goods directly from the supplier to the customer.
I don’t know where Mr Read is now, but he’d probably be thrilled at the prospect of today’s information industries, where Apple and others can sell a digital copy of a song (plus a licence to own it) and make millions from it.
Of course many industries continue to have to stock their products on shelves, in warehouses, in crates. Sometimes I ponder just how much money is tied up in the stock that shops hold. For supermarkets, they could have millions of dollars of stock just sitting around in a single supermarket. Even a small shop could easily have tens of thousands of dollars.
Makes me ponder if I’ve got enough money on my home contents insurance.