Life of a Used Bookstore – Sixteen Years!

I recently had to breakdown and purchased a new laptop. The one in the store abruptly bit the dust. Dragged one from home and, well, I might have had a hand in its demise… At least now I can announce that I’m back from my ‘fishing trip’.

I am currently celebrating sixteen years of owning OCUB. Hard to believe some days but then it seems like a short time ago that I shouted from the rooftops I’m buying a used bookstore.

To celebrate I’m doing what I have been doing for a many number of years. Celebrating with a 50% sale! And as I do every time, I offer a sale I pay tribute to the one who told me about his experience with sales. He offers a half-off sale. His thought is that everyone has fun when books are 50% off. And that someone is, Ben, from The Country Bookshop located way up in Plainsfield, VT. And over the years I found that advice very sound. Everyone enjoys the sale. That’s why Ben is so successful in the used bookstore world. He gives great advice. And has great sales.

The sale will go through to Saturday, December 3rd. Stop in and have some fun!

vellichor n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured. – John Koenig, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

Going Fishing…Sept 6-9 2022

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

I think the best vacation is the one that relieves me of my own life for a while and then makes me long for it again. – Ann Patchett, THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE

Yes, I think it is time I step away and take a few days for me. Nothing special. Just some down time. I know, I own a used bookstore. What’s the stress with that? Well, actually there isn’t any. Things are going swimmingly. But, having a break every once in awhile is needed. Clear my head. A few days of no commitments.

Some think that owning a used bookstore allows time to sit back and read. Talk books with customers all day. Not really. Every day I’m in the store I work. There are always stacks of books to go through. Shelves to stock. Move books around. Sweep. Clean. Sort. Price. Boxes to go through. There is no end. It is continuous. Then I reach the point where I feel I’ve lost my creativity. I’m at that point.

I will be taking off September 6-9, returning to the store on Tuesday, September 13. Hannah will be in the store on Saturday, September 10 to cover for me. (Thanks, Hannah!)

My plans? Nothing much which works out to be just what I need. I’m feeling the need for spring cleaning in preparation for the upcoming winter. I’ve started hiking again so I’ll take some short hikes. The days of reading on the front porch are dwindling so I want to spend some time there too. I have a trip planned for the last few days which I’m looking forward to. And yes, that’ll be all about book shopping. Bags and boxes of used books. A great way to cap off the time away.

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

Happiness is a Used Bookstore

Happiness. That’s why [used] books smell like. Happiness. That’s why I always wanted to have a [used] bookshop. What better life than to trade in happiness? – Sarah MacLean, THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN

Couldn’t say it any better myself.

Secondhand books had so much life in them. They’d lived, sometimes in many homes, or maybe just one. They’d been on airplanes, traveled to sunny beaches, or crowded into a backpack and taken high up on a mountain where the air thinned. – Rebecca Raisin, THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP ON THE SEINE

Bookcases!

We are much more likely to be drawn to a messy bookstore than a neat one because the mess signifies vitality. We are not drawn to a bookstore because of tasteful, Finnish shelves in gunmetal gray mesh, each one displaying three carefully chosen, color-coordinated covers. Clutter — orderly clutter, if possible — is what we expect. – Lewis Buzbee, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History.

Many have told me there is no way I’d be able to fit in anymore bookcases. Ha! Indeed I have. Two are free-standing and one is fitted within a window and allows light in, views out. Several more bookcases will make their way in soon. Poor Political Science wants out of its box.

Short Stories
England
U.S. History

It takes real planning to organize this kind of chaos. – Mel Odom, The Destruction of the Books

Rumors

A week went by and nothing. But eventually, as they always will, the rumors reached me. And everyone knows you can’t disprove a rumor. – Jay Asher, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY

Recently I found out a untrue rumor was out there. In reference to the above quote, it’s hard to disprove rumors so I’m not going to but through my actions and work ethic.

How do I feel about it? Quite beside myself.

I am very grateful for the friend who came to me to ask if what she heard was true. I really couldn’t hide my displeasure. Then I was faced with the dilemma of how to react to it. This is how: putting my head down and work within my shop to continue to make it the best I can. A comfy spot in town to look over a vast and varied selection of books that will fit into the space I call, Otter Creek Used Books. And I will leave it at that.

Thank you.

Middlebury Thrift Week – May 17-21, 2022

Celebrate seven stores in Middlebury VT that feature the concept of reuse.

In the MarbleWorks you’ll find Round Robin Upscale Resale, Junebug, and Otter Creek Used Books. College Street offers Middlebury Vintage and on Main Street is Buy Again Alley. All within walking distance of each other. A short drive south of Middlebury are Hope Charity Resale Shop on Boardman Street, and Neat Repeats on Route 7 south.

Each participating store will hand out punch cards. Visit 5 of the 7 stores to get your card punched and be eligible to win 1 of 3 baskets of gift certificates and other prizes.

If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production. – Pete Seeger

OCUB – Still Going Strong

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

Oh, yes. I’ve gotten far away from this website. This site was to reflect the life of a used bookstore lady. Trial and tribulations. Experiences. Books. Books I’ve read, am reading, wanting to read. The ebb and flow of a used bookstore. And then whatever comes to my mind.

But I have to say, I’ve gotten away from working on the website because I’ve been putting more energy into the Facebook and Instragram posts. It’s so much easier. Find a book or a stack, a series or interest, take a picture. Find an appropriate quote. Post. Done. Here I have to come up with a theme to write about, take pics, find appropriate quotes, edit, proofread, edit, spell check, grammar check…. I try to remember what I learned in school. Mrs. Farnham. Mrs. Tatro. I’m sure I’ve disappointed them but it’s really ok. I think that there is leeway on the internet. If not, well, please don’t burst my bubble.

The only news I really have is that I’m walking. Without a cane or a walker. Yes, there was a two week period I was using a walker. But that was at home following my hip replacement. All’s good now. I’m walking upright, head up and redeveloping my stride.

The store has been humming along quite well. Boxes in all the time. Book scouts have returned to bringing books. Inventory is changing: ‘new’ books arriving, cleaned, priced, and shelved, and books are being purchased and walking out. A great flow.

So life here in this used bookstore is chugging alone quite nicely.

I often think . . . that the bookstores that will save civilization are not online, nor on campuses, nor named Borders, Barnes & Noble, Dalton, or Crown. They are the used bookstores, in which, for a couple of hundred dollars, one can still find, with some diligence, the essential books of our culture, from the Bible and Shakespeare to Plato, Augustine, and Pascal. – James V. Schall, On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs: Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing

Happy New Year!

Gather the stars if you wish it so
Gather the songs and keep them.
Gather the faces of women.
Gather for keeping years and years.
And then…
Loosen your hands, let go and say good-bye.
Let the stars and songs go.
Let the faces and years go.
Loosen your hands and say good-bye.

-Carl Sandburg

Fifteen Years Down

And how many more to go?

Thinking back to when I decided to purchase Otter Creek Used & Rare Books…

When I went for that fateful walk, leaving my cluttered desk to clear my head and figure out whatever issue I was dealing with. A brochure? The website? Wrapping up a project? I don’t remember. But I walked along Main Street and noted in front of the Lazarus Building a sign proclaiming “Used Bookstore For Sale. Inquire Inside.” I didn’t hesitate. I walked in, down the stairs, and asked, “How much?” He told me his price so I turned around and walked back up the hill to the Painter House to call my husband. “We are buying a used bookstore.” “Ok!” And to the bank I went.

Obviously the bank approved my loan and I went back to the store to hand over the check. I decided to take ownership on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. When I went in to accept the keys and other information he announced that the day before he had the best sales he ever had since owning the store. At first, I thought, darn! That should have been mine. But I quickly recovered and thought what a nice way for him to exit. He deserved it. How much did he make? I’ve no idea. I never asked him and he didn’t offer the information.

My first day, I tore apart the upstairs entry way. The books on the shelves disintegrated in my hand from the daily exposure to the sun streaming in from the large window. I changed out whatever had been in the window and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned that window. Inside and out. I wanted everyone to know a new owner was now in possession of Otter Creek Used Books. Yes, I dropped “& Rare Books” as I didn’t find any rare books when looking over the newly aquired inventory.

The first year owning the store I stayed in my position at ACCOC and worked weekends at OCUB. To pay the store’s bills. I roped my son and future son-in-law to run the store week days. Many days it was just sitting in the store with hardly anyone coming down the stairs. When I was in, I opened both doors – upstairs front and the basement back – to get some air circulation and to entice shoppers. Soon both doors were being used by customers.

One day while hanging out on the front patio I witnessed a block of cement fall from the overpass ceiling. Yikes! That wasn’t good. I decided to be proactive and find another site for the store. From my past workings with VTRANS and VT Railway, I recognized I could be shut down anytime. After a few inquiring phone calls, I spoke with Ryan at the MarbleWorks and he said, “I’ve got the perfect spot.” And I went right over to get a tour of this ‘perfect spot’ he was referring to. He was right! It was perfect and still is. We signed an agreement and the ‘Great Move’ began. Two months of moving something daily. Boxes of books, to display items. Shelving was torn down to be reassembled in the new space. Slowly sections materized and filled up with books. And the store became what it is today.

I want this space to be comfortable. Full of quality and interesting books. Priced to sell. My philosophy and business plan has always been to present this store as one would enter years before the interent. An old fashioned used bookstore. Like one found on the streets of NYC – Book Row – in the 30’s. Except heated, uncovered windows for natural light, and a pleasant bookseller who will sell you a book. 😉 Even if it’s one she’s currently reading.

I’m a very lucky used bookstore owner. Fifteen years owning OCUB. Ten years in the Historic MarbleWorks.

Rows and rows of books lined the shelves and I let my eyes linger on the sturdy spines, thinking how human books were, so full of ideas and images, worlds imagined, worlds perceived; full of fingerprints and sudden laughter and the sighs of readers, too.  – Kim Edwards, The Lake of Dreams

Celebrate With Me – 15 Years!

Books can be possessive, can’t they? You’re walking around in a bookstore and a certain one will jump out at you, like it had moved there on its own, just to get your attention. Sometimes what’s inside will change your life, but sometimes you don’t even have to read it. Sometimes it’s a comfort just to have a book around. – Sarah Addison Allen, The Sugar Queen

In honor of my owning OCUB, stop by and enjoy a 50% Sale. Yes, half-off each and every book in the store.

As Ben, owner of The Country Bookshop in Plainfield, VT, says when you have a sale make it fun. And what can be better than offering a 50% sale? Nothing! So whenever OCUB has a sale I follow Ben’s advice. He’s never wrong and I’ve been turning to him and others for fifteen years.

November now through Saturday November 27 the store will be hosting the sale. Yes, all books are 50% off. Come and help me celebrate.

In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend. – Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

Open: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm. In the MarbleWorks.
Down Printers Alley from Main Street.