Yes, I’ve become one. BUT, I’m working on improving and not being quite so crazy. Which in itself is craziness. Two words…storage units. Yes, I have storage units. Isn’t that crazy? Well, I think so. But last month I got through one so…one less. And trying to get through another one this month. The goal is to keep one and use that to work from. That makes sense, doesn’t it? I have little to no room here within the store for boxes that I need to go through. Some times I’ve so much inventory that I’ll just pile books – artistically, of course – in the front window because there’s just no room for the books. Anywhere. When you see ‘artistically’ piled books in the front window…well, now you know. Don’t get me wrong. Having inventory is a great thing. Of course! I’m not actually complaining except for when I get my monthly storage bill. Yikes! And that explains why I’m not buying books. Not until I get my inventory in-check, under control, I’m not overwhelmed, and I’ve got a good handle on the books. Well, as best as a used bookstore lady can get. And the photo shown? Know that this is the unit that was cleaned out. Phew!
One of the best things is going through boxes of books to see what gems are making their way into the store. Like this little book. It isn’t in perfect shape but it’s awesome. Do you agree?
“Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.” – Patti Smith, acceptance speech, National Book Award 2010 (Nonfiction), November 17, 2010.
Otter Creek Used Books has been busy. Busy with customers, busy with boxes of used books. Daily. Frankly, so busy that I haven’t even thought of the blog until last night when #3 reminded me he hadn’t seen anything new since April. Wow, how time goes by. And here it is July. Well…
I’ve always felt my priority is to keep the inventory as fresh as I can make it. As soon as a box comes in I try to go through the books and get them up on the shelves. They aren’t going to sell sitting in a box. Or in a storage unit. Confession time! Yes, I have storage units. Isn’t that crazy? I think so. So I’ve stopped. I’ve stopped buying because I just do not want to be one of those crazy used bookstore people who keep buying books and running out of shelving with books all dangerously piled high and storage units have to be rented. So feverishly I work to get those books out of their boxes. Only thing, I can do the work. I can unbox books and shelf them. I can grab a box from storage and empty it fairly quickly but thing is books are not flying out of here fast enough for me. So I’m faced with a dilemma. People – not always customers – come in or call daily ready to sell their books or looking for store credit. Library and church sales are plenty. It tells me there are great sources for books but the outlet for my store is limited. My competition isn’t another used bookstore but the internet. How does one compete with books that are selling for pennies? I can only do what I can do which is offer customer service as no one else can. Smile. Be happy. Friendly. A good listener and that’s not hard because I’ve got some incredible well-read customers. We have some wild conversations. And I love being in the store so that’s easy.
I don’t really know how my store is viewed. What the reputation is. Frankly, I don’t worry about it. I enjoy the store. To me, it’s the kind of store I’d want to look around. I wish it was bigger. I just edit the books more so I can offer quality rather than quantity.
So a sale! Yes, that’s correct. Starting Monday, July 11 though Saturday, July 16 we will be having a 50% off books sale! So get in here and help me make some room on the shelves. I’ve got bulging storage units.
To my mind there is nothing so beautiful or so provocative as a secondhand book store…To me it is astonishing and miraculous to think that any one of us can poke among the stalls for something to read overnight–and that this something may be the sum of a lifetime of sweat, tears, and genius that some poor, struggling, blessed fellow expended trying to teach us the truth. – Lionel Barrymore
You see, bookshops are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power. They are, simply put, the best of places. – Jen Campbell, The Bookshop Book
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
– Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time
The door is flung open to let in fresh air. Sure it may be a bit chilly inside the store but it’s April! Haven’t we been patiently waiting for warmer days?
Hannah and I have been busy trying to keep up with the boxes of new arrivals that come in just about daily. A never-ending piece of a used bookstore life. As it should be, right? Boxes of Vermont history books, particularly town histories. Beekeeping. Modern children’s books. Miscellaneous fiction. WWI and WWII. Homesteading. Flower essence and flower gardening. And various others have made their way into the store and getting up on the shelves.
This is what’s been going on:
Need I say more?
Except it sure is a lot of fun!
Here we are again. February.
“Even though February was the shortest month of the year, sometimes it seemed like the longest,” J.D. Robb. And there is, “When God was making the months I think February was a mistake, like a burp. There it was, small, dark, and prickly. It had absolutely no redeeming qualities,” Shannon Wiersbitzky, WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER. And how about from Alice McDermott, “The day and time itself: late afternoon in early February, was there a moment of the year better suited for despair?”
February, February…I just never know what to do with you. So with that there will be 50% sale February 15-27, 2016. I-Hate-February sale.
A side note: a customer called to wish me Happy February. “Just try and make the best of it,” she said. She gets me.
Here it is the middle of November! Next week Thanksgiving. Hard to believe. Seems like the year is whizzing by.
I thought I’d post my holiday schedule. I will be closed Thanksgiving Day. My daughter and son-in-law will be cooking up the feast this year. So this used bookstore lady will be putting her feet up with grandsons crawling all over her. I will offer to help clean up but I know they’ll shoo me out of the kitchen so I’ll play with the 3 1/2 year old and 11 month old some more. When I return home I know I’ll be so worn out I’ll have to put my feet up again but this time sit with a cup of tea and a good read and enjoy quiet time.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving marks nine years that I’ve owned the store. 9 years! So that day I’ll be hosting a 50% off sale. I know! An exciting day all the way around. Buying books is what keeps the store alive. It’s also Small Business Saturday which the store is participating in. Free SMS cloth bags to the first ten shoppers.
Starting Sunday, November 29 the store will be open 11-3 pm and will be open each Sunday through December with those same hours. Obviously I will be closed on Christmas Day as well as New Year’s Day. Christmas and New Year’s Eve I will close around 3pm or last customer.
For 2016 I am going to try something I haven’t tried before. I am going to be closed on Mondays, January-March. I’m doing that for the all important “me” time. I have worked six days a week for the past nine years. During foliage and over the Christmas holidays I work a full week. I’m going to cherish having two days off in a row for those months. Just think of all the mischief I can get myself in.
If you have been in lately you have seen full boxes coming in and empty boxes going to recycling. It’s been craziness in here. A good crazy. New used books getting shelved every day. My five-day vacation yielded a number of books that have already made their way up on the shelves – history, farming, Vermontica and then some.
- Nov 26 – Thanksgiving, closed
- Nov 28 – 50% off 9 Year Anniversary Sale & Small Business Saturday
- Nov 29 – Open 11-2pm and each Sunday throughout December
- Dec 10 – Stag & Doe Night . Open until 8 pm
- Dec 24 – Open 10-3pm or last customer
- Dec 25 – Christmas Day closed. Merry Christmas!
- Dec 31 – Open 10-3pm or last customer
- Jan 1 – New Year’s Day closed
- Jan 4 – closed and closed each Monday through March 28
“- “Women should all move to Amazonia, or at least vacation there four times a year.”
– “It’s the girl world in my head, where I go when I’m annoyed with Carter, or just men in general. There are five shoe stores per capita, nothing has any calories, and all the books and movies end happy ever after.”
– “I like Amazonia. When do we leave?”
~ Nora Roberts
“I said, I prefer the ocean when it’s gray. Or not really gray. A pale, in-between color. It reminds me of waiting for something good to happen.”
~ Lauren Oliver, Delirium
“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
~ Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
What that all means is I’m taking a few days and heading south – to the NH/ME shoreline – to clear my head of book dust, read a few a them, eat some buttery seafood, and watch the waves pound the rocky shore. Even put my toes into the icy Atlantic.
OCUB will be closed Mon-Fri, November 2-6. I’ll be back open on Saturday but at 10 a.m. (regular advertised store hours) since the Farmers Market will be heading to their winter quarters at Mary Hogan Elementary School.
A customer asked me what I am bringing to read. I’m going to finish Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon. Also finish Book Row: An Anecdotal and Pictorial History of the Antiquarian Book Trade by Marvin Mondlin and Roy Meador. Two to start: Michael Gruber’s The Book of Air and Shadows and The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. But you know, I’m going to pick up more books along the way to and from NH/ME as we stop in to say “Hi!” to some favorite book dealers. More than likely those will be the ones I’ll want to start in with.
Have a great week!
* Please add [used] in front of the word “bookstore” in the following quotes:
“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking,” – Jerry Seinfeld
“A civilization without retail bookstores is unimaginable. Like shrines and other sacred meeting places, bookstores are essential artifacts of human nature. The feel of a book taken from the shelf and held in the hand is a magical experience, linking writer to reader.” – Jason Epstein
“We didn’t just lose a bookstore though, we lost a bit of magic. We lost a bit of wonder. We lost a safe haven where it’s still OK to dream big dreams. To walk down aisles and aisles of “what if?” Books are not collections of paper, they’re invitations to different worlds. And being in a bookstore is like getting a passport.” – Jon Acuff
Just received word that a fellow used bookstore will be closing the end of October. It makes me sad and I’m grieving. Fortunately, the owner will still be around. He is taking a bit of his inventory and sell online. But we all know that isn’t the same thing. He told me that he and his wife are happy and excited. They get their lives back after eighteen years. They get freedom. Not tied to the store anymore. Still it stinks. I’m sure he’ll still answer all my crazy questions. But it won’t be the same. Regardless, I wish them all the very best.