Otter Musings on This Fine Thursday

IMG_2460Thursday! I know, don’t get ahead of myself. But it’s two weeks in a row.

I thought today I would clear-up confusion I’ve found some customers have and that is, who owns OCUB? That would be me. Some believe that the store is owned by another used bookstore in the area. I’m not sure why people think that but they do. Well, actually a customer recently mentioned that he felt no way could there be enough business to support more than one used bookshop in the area. Interesting thought but yes, it can. I’m of the mind, as I know many other used bookstore owners would agree with me, the more the better because then the area becomes a destination to seek out hidden gems.

Each shop has its own personality. Or rather the personality of the shop is reflective of the owner.  Sometimes I get frustrated with that thought because I’m actually a neat – everything has its place – person. I like neatness and thrive on it. So here I sit among piles of books in every direction. Boxes of books stacked somewhat neatly. Piles of books in aisles. Stacks in another. Books tucked into shelves where there is clearly no more room for them. Is this all a reflection of who I really am? I don’t think so but yet every time I make changes, rearrange shelves, etc. the next thing I know it is all right back to how it was. Ugh! Maybe it is a side of me that I have to contend with. But then I do have to remember it is just me in the store or it’s just my daughter, Hannah. We are hardly ever in the store together unless a little boy or two is with us. And believe it or not, there is a lot to do on a daily basis. I’ve tried to take days to read but I’ve got such a work ethic I can’t. Boxes come in and they must be dealt with – clean, sort, price and shelf. Books with torn jackets need to be covered in mylar. Change around shelf displays. Rearrange the window displays. There is always something.

I have to remind myself that reading is also work. After ten years you’d think I’d take time to read while I’m in the store. I have been giving myself permission because it is as important as cleaning off books, pricing them fairly and shelving. Don’t get me wrong. I do read. I keep a book in my bag, a couple downstairs in my house and another couple upstairs. And one for the store. I’ll write more on my reading obsession in another post. Now I must tackle the piles that are around my feet.

IMG_2455

 

 

Advertisements

Otterly Good Intentions

I know I’ve been very neglectful of my blog. So I’m going to try to update it every Thursday. Note the key word, “try”. This blog started out as my attempt to put into words what it was like to jump into the used bookstore world and get a business up and running that had fallen into neglect. I hope that the only neglect my customers find today regarding my store will be this blog. Why Thursdays? Because today is Thursday and I have to start someplace. Please don’t hold this over me though if I’m not as faithful as I should be. Thanks.

greenpenguinsI’m currently faced with a number of boxes (ten) that I have to go through, clean, sort, price and shelf. Three boxes came in today. I know there’s a number of mysteries, westerns and light reading. Most are paperbacks. I pulled out a few such as Craig Johnson titles and also Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Dick Francis, Poe, and Le Carre plus numerous other authors are in the boxes. Green Penguin paperbacks, too. Mysteries. They are just getting a little airing out and then they’ll be shelved. One of the best times in the store is going through a fresh box of used books. Fun!

I started this week sorting out the storage area here in the store. Pretty soon we’ll be moving some shelving around to make room for larger collections and downsize those books that frankly, don’t move. Times like this I miss the roominess of the Main Street location but that’s all. Oh yes, the big picture window and dressing that every chance I had. Other than that, I’m loving it here in the MarbleWorks.

I have also started researching database programs to get at least partial inventory on the site. I should have taken care of that a long time ago but when it’s just one – sometimes two – people in the store, you know, it’s hard to do everything. And to remind you, dear reader, my emphasis has always been from the beginning to cater to the in-store shopper. Experience shopping a used bookstore in the store. Get off the internet and put your shoes on and walk in. It’s a great experience and very relaxing.

“Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us. Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.” -Virginia Woolf, Street Haunting

bw_childrensrm

Here it is. August!

IMG_2303

“If June was the beginning of a hopeful summer, and July the juicy middle, August was suddenly feeling like the bitter end.  –Sarah Dessen

Here it is, mid-August. Yet another summer is flying away. Addison County Field Days has come and gone. Labor Day is right around the corner.  …sigh…

OCUB is having a wonderful summer so far. We made it through the construction on Main Street and Merchants Row, and the shutting down of Printers Alley to vehicles and pedestrian traffic. The alley is now open to walkers, cyclists to wander down into the MarbleWorks. We only felt the lack of customers when Printers Alley was totally closed. The footbridge over the Otter Creek from Mill Street was available to foot traffic though.  And of course, one could drive here without any issue and park in the MarbleWorks. Townspeople were supportive of OCUB and from what I’ve heard, to all Main Street area businesses as well. I knew that would happen. That’s the character of this area.

Our 50% sale went well. Couldn’t believe we were late in hosting it but better late than never. I know there will be a sale in September and another in November. You’ll have to watch out for it here as well as on Facebook. The September event will mark the closing of the Main Street OCUB location. The November one is for celebrating owning the store. It will be 11 years. 11! Hard to believe but yet it feels right.

Thank you!

“Of the many worlds which man did not receive as a gift of nature, but which he created with his own spirit, the world of books is the greatest…” –Herman Hesse

Book Sale! * Jul 27-Aug 5 * 50% off Books!

“To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.”
-Carlos Maria Dominguez, The House of Paper

“Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one.”
-Augustine Birrell

frenchbooks
Now is a great time to start collecting books to build your library or start one. OCUB is going to have our annual 50% sale starting tomorrow – July 27 through August 5. We are only a couple of weeks off from our usual sale date but what the hey, better late than never. All books are indeed 50% off. Come and enjoy!

“O my darling books…how dear to me are they all! For have I not chosen them one by one, gathered them in with the sweat of my brow? I do love you all! It seems as if, by long and sweet companionship, you had become part of myself.”
-Antoine Issac, Baron Silvestre de Sacy

Let It Begin!

62017_alley (1)The work has finally begun for the new temporary bridges over the railroad tracks on Main Street and Merchants Row.

I have been anticipating this work for several years. Actually more like six. I saw the writing on the wall that my business was going to be affected by the work and made preparations to move my store. If you don’t know, Otter Creek Used Books was located to the left of the top photo in between the railroad tracks and Printers Alley.

I have empathy for the businesses on Main Street and Merchants Row as to how the construction will affect them. It will be trying times for all businesses including having to endure the activity, noise created by the upcoming construction.  And the uncertainty of  shoppers. The work will include closing Printers Alley for the next three years. Traffic will enter from the north of MarbleWorks off of Seymour Street. A pedestrian path will be created down Printers Alley.

As a business owner who was going to be directly affected by the construction  I was pro-active in securing a new location and worked very hard to re-establish my business and hoped to be settled by the time the work began. What I didn’t take into account were the additional environmental studies, possible lawsuits and more which derailed (pun intended) the projects for years. I have to think about how I worked to turn my store around in reputation and income when I bought it in 2006 and  was faced with the decision to move and get ahead of the construction or wait for the last moment. At that time it appeared to me the work was going to happen sooner rather than later so we moved.

I am happy in my current location in the MarbleWorks. I love it here with a definite sense of community. But I can’t help but think if I had stayed on Main Street for several more years I would not have experienced such a lost of income as I did. People couldn’t find me. They assumed I closed the store. Fortunately the amazing staff at the Vermont Book Shop were the best and directed people to my new location. In fact, they still are. Book people are the best! My first several years here were very hard as I was faced with once again rebuilding my business. It was hard doing it once. Twice in five years is difficult. The lost of income was staggering. But I did it thanks to my incredible family and local customers and of course, the MarbleWorks community.

I am going into this town project being positive, optimistic and any other affirming words you want to throw together. The store will survive and our communities will rally around all the downtown businesses. Now is clearly the time to Shop Local. And for good measure I will keep my fingers crossed. 🙂

62017_alley (2)

Closed on Saturday, May 6th

mom_thisone

My mother

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing our enthusiasm,” Aldous Huxley
A perfect quote to describe my mother, Muriel Harms, who will be turning 90 years old later this month. May 10th to be exact. But this weekend Saturday, May 6, my family and I will be celebrating her day with friends, neighbors and co-workers. Yes, she is still working. Retirement is not within her vocabulary.
The store will be closed all day Saturday, May 6 for her celebration. See you Monday, May 8.

Save

Everyone Needs Mary Poppins in Their Life, Right?

marypoppins“The same substance composes us–the tree overhead, the stone beneath us, the bird, the beast, the star–we are all one, all moving to the same end.” – P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins

Obviously I’m back from my vacation. Just getting really bad at keeping this site current. I spend so much of my time taking care of books as they come in. Cleaning to sorting, pricing to shelving. Rearranging shelves and moving books around. Trying to fit  books onto the shelves or creatively stacking. Patiently waiting for additional shelving to be installed. And there’s the issue of what do I write? I want this blog to be fresh. But I can’t always write about SPS. How boring is that? So that’s where I’m stuck. We’re coming out of April and its showers and heading into May with its flowers. That’ll surely pick me up and get me back on the creative path. Sure hope so!

I’ll leave you with this…“Don’t you know that everybody’s got a Fairyland of their own?” -P.L. Travers, MARY POPPINS. Of course!

 

OCUB Mini Vacation 3/27-3/31/2017

IMG_1516“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin

I don’t feel I need to escape from my life but I do feel a need for a short break. A change. Fresh, salty air is in order for me. So I’m taking a few days off next week – Monday, March 27 through Friday, March 31. I’ll go exploring used bookstores, walk a beach or two, buttery seafood, enjoy a pot of tea in a bakery and put my feet up on a chair and start in on a new read. Nothing fancy but just enough to clear my head. It’s my bi-annual vacation of five days. Five days of nothingness. I won’t care about the weather or anything. Just what books to bring to read, what used bookshops to pop into, and how many boxes of books to bring back for the store.

“That’s why people take vacations. Not to relax or find excitement or see new places. To escape the death that exists in routine things.” – Don DeLillo, White Noise

“She loves the serene brutality of the ocean, loves the electric power she felt with each breath of wet, briny air.” – Holly Black, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale