l have no idea how my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s photos made their way into the store. I’d like to think that I’m doing something they are proud of. Not saying my other female relatives aren’t. It’s just only these two photos appeared one day. A wonder.
“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. ” – Audrey Hepburn
“March came in that winter like the meekest and mildest of lambs, bringing days that were crisp and golden and tingling, each followed by a frosty pink twilight which gradually lost itself in an elfland of moonshine.” – L. M. Montgomery
Today is a lamb of a day. A perfect March day. Our reward for making it through the horrible month of February. But we did it! And it didn’t take as much chocolate as I was expecting.
The I Hate February sale went very well. It was extended for a couple of days – March 1 and 2. I mean, how could we not? To finish out the week. Thank you all for coming into the store and enjoying the fun. Great to see all those who plan their trips to Middlebury to stop in and fill up arms, bags and boxes.
And here it is March. March is a happy month for me. For one thing it’s my birthday month. Now you can understand as a little girl why I didn’t like February. It was in the way! And the month just brought bad stuff to me. Of all months!
March also brings me two weeks off. Last year I rewarded myself after twelve years of owning this store to a two-week vacation and I crossed off a number of bucket list items: Crossing the Mississippi, U.S. Grant sites and other historical sites. It made such an impact on me. I forgot what vacations can do to one’s outlook. I’m going again this year. Things haven’t been finalized but the store’s hours will be different.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
I remember thinking I wanted to die rather than live through another February day of grayness; I didn’t tell anyone because I knew it wasn’t normal. And normal was all I ever wanted to be. – Sharon E Rainey, Making a Pearl from the Grit of Life
February, month of despair, with a skewered heart in the centre.― Margaret Atwood
Yes, here it is again. For some reason February keeps showing up. I have no idea why it even has to appear on a calendar. I could accept a longer January. Even a longer March. Just erase February from everything.
How do I get through? Chocolate. And a good fat used book to escape in. Until I can turn the page to the wonderful month of March.
So I offer up as I have for the past few years a 50% sale for the last half of the month. As Ben states, “Have fun with your sales!” That is Ben, of The County Bookshop, in Plainfield – so well worth the drive. And he is right. The sale helps me through and it is a lot of fun. Customers get great deals and inventory flies out the door. And the best thing is that everyone is in a great mood. It all makes the saddest month of the year almost bearable.
Yes, all books are half price. 50% off. Each and every book. February 15-28. Come by! And buy! 🙂
The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February. ― Joseph Wood Krutch
I recently reorganized the ‘main’ window (near my desk). Needing Spring and flowers, and all that is warm and sunny, which we are not currently having. Gardening. It is the time when mailboxes are full of gardening and seed catalogs. At least I believe they are. I don’t receive any. I prefer to actually go into the stores to pick out my seeds and gardening supplies. And I’m not one to really plan out my vegetable garden. I really only want tomatoes, basil, parsley, dill, kale, onions and the like. Easy to grow. Forgiving. When I was a stay-at-home mother I did plan and weeded my gardens. Today…not so much. Fortunately my flower gardens are free to do what they want. I actually have one garden that surprises me every year with something new. One year everything was white – Roses to Daisys. Another year it was full of Black Eyed Susans. The Oriental Poppies and Peonies do return year after year to which I am grateful. To think there was actually a time where you couldn’t find a weed anywhere in my gardens. Those were the days.
As you probably have figured out since I’ve owned the store I enjoy attaching a literary quote to just about everything I do. Facebook, Instagrams, and the website. Even outdoors I have a large framed chalkboard sign where I post a quote. I started having outdoor quotes which I happened upon an easel I picked up alongside the road. Free. Those days I worked so hard to let people know that someone new owned OCUB and there were many positive changes added: inventory, color (we were located in a blah basement), book displays, etc. to literary quotes on the outside easel.
Today I was looking for a quote to include within the window display which also highlights Valentine’s Day, and I found quite a few delightful quotes about books, reading and gardening. I couldn’t choose one so I chose them all and have posted them below. I hope you like them as well.
Looking forward to Spring!
“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.” – Charles Baudelaire
“Reading can be a road to freedom or a key to a secret garden, which, if tended, will transform all of life.” – Katherine Paterson
“ Your mind is not a cage. It’s a garden. And it requires cultivating.” – Libba Bray, A Great and Terrible Beauty
“ She did not need much, wanted very little. A kind word, sincerity, fresh air, clean water, a garden, kisses, books to read, sheltering arms, a cosy bed, and to love and be loved in return.” – Starr Neely Blade
“May I a small house and large garden have; And a few friends, And many books, both true.” -Abraham Cowley
“A book should be a garden that fits in the hands. Word-petals of color. Stems of strength. Roots of truth. Turn a page and turn the seasons. Read the sentence and enjoy the roses. ” – Max Lucado
“It’s the same thing when I’m gardening or reading. It’s just me and what I’m doing, or the world I’m reading, and nothing else.” – Jennifer L. Armentrout, Onyx
“For this quiet, unprepossessing, passive man who has no garden in front of his subsidised flat, books are like flowers. He loves to line them up on the shelf in multicoloured rows: he watches over each of them with an old-fashioned gardener’s delight, holds them like fragile objects in his thin, bloodless hands.” – Stefan Zweig, The Post-Office Girl
“Miss Moore speaks slowly, deliberately. “I know because I read.” She pulls back and stands, hands on hips, offering us a challenge. “May I suggest that you all read? And often. Believe me, it’s nice to have something to talk about other than the weather and the Queen’s health. Your mind is not a cage. It’s a garden. And it requires cultivating.” – Libba Bray, A Great and Terrible Beauty
“There is something divine, something artistic, and something supreme in reading a book in a peaceful garden.” – Mehmet Murat Idan
Being totally upfront, WordPress changed their inputting format and it’s confusing. The last entry was a mess but I corrected it. I think.
The books – the generous friends who met me without suspicion – the merciful masters who never used me ill! – Wilkie Collins, Armadale.
Today I want to reflect on my owning a used bookstore for the past twelve years.
I’ll never forget the afternoon when I was having ‘one of those days’ at my last job. One that I loved but I knew I was getting to the end of it. Frustrated that the project I was working on wasn’t coming out to my expectations. I don’t remember what I was working on – a publication? webpage? article? Or something entirely different. I only knew I had to clear my head and take a break. Usually I’d grab the camera, take a walk to the residential part of Middlebury to get away from everything. But on this particular day I chose the downtown area. Even as I headed in that direction I thought it was very unlike me but forward I went. There outside of the old Lazarus Building on Main Street was a sign declaring “Used Bookstore for sale. Inquire within.” I walked through the door, down the stairs to the gentleman behind the desk and asked him how much. Ran back to my desk, called my husband and declared that we are buying a used bookstore. Went to the bank, drew up a check and went back to the bookstore with check in hand and well, the rest is history. Here I am. Twelve years later owning a used bookstore and happy as all can be.
I’m asked how I got into the business. Frankly I think it was fate. I have no history of true literature, or retail. I grew up reading a lot of Reader Digest monthly books. Walking or hopping on my bike to the Ilsley Library. I was constantly directed to the children’s section of the library. The adult books were not for me. But they were. I had to convince one librarian that I could read Carl Sandburg’s Lincoln book. Of course I was quizzed when I returned it. She declared I could read it and therefore was allowed to wander in the adult section. Even to check out an adult book. If appropriate.
I was a young adult when I discovered used bookstores. What a wonder! I loved that others had read the book but in a used bookstore the books had been owned by someone else. How special it made them! From then on, wherever I went I had to find a used bookstore.
One year my husband, Rusty, had eye surgery and looking for entertainment during the long winter I suggested looking for used bookstores. With the Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers Association (VABA) brochure & map in hand we headed out to discover what we could. Sometimes the shop would be unexpectedly closed, some surprised for the visitation, but all-in-all it was one of my best winters. Again, never in my wildest dreams. VABA’s spring book sales? I had to be first in. Very nerdy but I just had to be. Now I’m a VABA member. And I found that used bookstore owners are the coolest. I hope that someday I can be on their level of coolness.
Now that I’ve had the shop for all these years I can’t imagine not owning it. I can’t imagine piling books, covering dust jackets, cleaning books, looking into boxes of books and picking out a few knowing that they had to come into the store. It is a way of life that I have to be a part of. For always.
The people! I understand that some I will never meet again but there are others I know we are bonded for life. Over a sale of a book. I recognize folks who visit the area for the summer. When I shop in town I want to run up to customers to ask how they liked the book. But I don’t. I try to be a cool used bookstore lady. I love connecting to people who come in. I want to share. I want people to read. I don’t care if they just wander in and wander out. At least they came in and offered company on the quiet days.
I enjoy sale days. Like today. Great that many are recognizing when sales are held. Generally over an anniversary of some kind. And then there’s February!
So, dear reader of this blog. Thank you. Thank you if you have been into the store. Thank you for everything. I truly appreciate all you have brought to the store and to me. Here’s to whatever the future holds.
I feel free and strong. If I were not a reader of books I could not feel this way. Whatever may happen to me, thank God that I can read, that I have truly touched the minds of other men. – Walter Tevis, Mockingbird
I’m reading, The Diary of a Bookseller, by Shaun Bythell, owner of The Bookshop, Wigtown in Scotland. I get him. Totally. And I’m not even a quarter of the way through his book. It’s his world – his reality – of being a bookseller. Of owning a brick and mortar shop. Dealing with volumes of books, and handling customers and the like. Including not-my-friend, Amazon. Written in diary form to include the number of daily customers and “Till Total”. He is honest. And brave. And I love him. I want to shake his hand and say, “Bravo!”
I started this blog with the intent of writing about my life as a used bookstore owner. A young customer called me at the time ‘The Bookstore Lady’ so I took on that personality as I wrote of my experiences. Good. Bad. But one day I freaked out when a husband and wife were arguing about something I had recently written so they asked me which one was correct in interpreting the meaning of an entry on the blog. Honestly, that freaked me out. I pretty much stopped blogging then because I felt a curtain had come down on me and I was now exposed. I wasn’t sure what was exposed but I knew I felt weird about it and try as I might I had a difficult time posting after that. I wrote numerous drafts but never posted them. I took up writing them in my head and leaving them there.
I’m going to try it again. Will see. Hopefully. Bythell is my inspiration.
“…but there are also people – lots of them actually – who appreciate that if you want book shops to survive, you have to go to them and perhaps pay slightly more. That’s the logic that Shaun Bythell makes a living from, and it’s still working.” – The Herald, 23rd Sept 2017