And Now Here is April

businesscards_ashtrayGreat news! I now have the ability to sell gift cards through Square on the OCUB Facebook page. Check it out, if so inclined.

Honestly, it has been quite a time for me and the store. I ended 2019 on a strong note with January and February equally strong. I was in the process of readdressing my marketing plan to prepare for an uncertain summer due to the upcoming Main Street construction. I took my books offline to reevaluate what I was offering. I purchased several collections to recharge the shelves. And then BAM! everything was turned upside down and I feel like I got caught unprepared for what was to come.  Fortunately I know I wasn’t alone but I have to come up with another plan.

You see, when I purchased the store I had to turn everything around – the physical space, the inventory, the reputation. It was a process that, at the time, was exciting because I knew there was only one direction to go in and that was up. I worked an extra year at my employment to carry the lack of business that store was experiencing. Then I took a huge leap of faith to leave that job and devote my time fully to the store. It took five years but I got there. The store became financially sound. Then I had to look at the future of the location the store was in. I knew from my previous employment that the building was going to eventually come down. And I knew the condition of the train overpass next to the store was in a bad way. The state could condemn it at anytime and that would obviously affect my business. So I decided to be proactive and started contacting landlords of spaces currently available in town. That led me to here, the historic MarbleWorks. That also meant I had to once again put my nose to the grindstone and work to get my business back. I almost didn’t make it but I did. So that was twice I had to turn the business around. 

Now I am faced with the very possibility of turning the store around for the third time. Frankly, I don’t know if I have it within me. When we were told to close I stayed away for a few days. Then I would come in to check the mail and the answering machine but I would leave because I just couldn’t deal with whatever was going on with the world. Here it is April 7 and I’m trying my best to address things I’ve wanted to do but couldn’t seem to get to it – change displays, go through shelves with a better eye and weed, clean, and other used bookstore chores. I’m trying to not be discouraged. All I can say is that once we are given the okay to reopen I will have one hell of a sale to try to keep the store going. But honestly, I am going be realistic.

For now, I wish all well. I look forward to reconnecting with everyone real soon.

“To wish to be well is a part of becoming well.” – Seneca

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“Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?” – Lord Alfred Tennyson

And now it’s March!

2020vaba_fair“Time passes. That’s the rule. No matter what happens, no matter how much it might feel like everything in your life has been frozen around one particular moment, time marches on.” – Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye

In this case it was February. And now it’s March.  A big sigh of relief. Thanks to all who stopped by to check out the I Hate February Sale. It proved once a gain to be a lot of fun.

March brings changes to the store. Hannah will now only work Mondays and every other Saturday. She has taken a position at Oxford Company in Cornwall. I’ll miss her and our routine but I’m very happy for her. She’ll now be surrounded with art and the ability to put her college degree to good work. I’ll be in the store Tuesday-Friday with every other Saturday off. Monday’s I still have charge of my grandsons.

Also March presents me with some down time. I’ll be getting away the week of March 23-27. The ocean calls me. Fried clams and the most delicious clam linguine on the planet. I’ve already started my pile of books to bring. Have my coffee houses picked out to put my feet up in and hunker down with a juicy novel. And Thursday evening of that week, author Erik Larson will be speaking of his new release, “The Splendid and the Vile”. Very excited to hear him and to dig into the book as I’m currently reading, “In the Garden of Beasts”.

On the last Sunday of March the Vermont Book, Posters & Ephemera Fair will be held in Burlington at the Hilton Burlington on Battery Street. This fair is sponsored by the Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers Association (VABA) and is the 27th annual. The hours are 10-4 and it is free! I will be there this year as well as many of my used bookstore friends and mentors. For nothing else, it will be great to hang out with them. And to check out their tables and shelves. It’s always a great time!

One more March thing. Look for some store happenings on the 13th. I have owned OCUB for thirteen years and the on the 13th of each month I will host some kind of surprise. Or a sale. Maybe even both! Watch for an announcement on Facebook.

“My father was often impatient during March, waiting for winter to end, the cold to ease, the sun to reappear. March was an unpredictable month, when it was never clear what might happen. Warm days raised hopes until ice and grey skies shut over the town again.” – Tracy Chevalier, Girl with a Pearl Earring

 
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Used Bookstores

She had a kind heart, though that is not of much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation. – Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop

‘Why do you buy books you don’t even read?’ our daughter asks us. That’s like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat. For company, of course. – Sarah Addison Allen, The Sugar Queen

I’m back from having a few days off from the world. Cleared my head. Read a few pages. Had my fav dish in the whole world or at least in my part of the world. I live for this meal and I’m never disappointed. I eat it with my eyes closed so I can enjoy each and every mouthful. And then walk it all off! Not a beach but in this case to the local theater to hear author, Lee Child. I have never picked up his books except to shelf but now I have to. What a down-to-earth author. He came across as clever and fun. So I need to look through my stock and see what I have of his and start in.

During this trip I stopped in a number of used bookstores. This trip was different as I cut the number down to just three. I’m a shop owner who sticks to a budget and I met that amount with the three shops. One store is in the middle of closing his physical shop, one recently moved to a smaller and less rent space (his third such move in fifteen years), another has changed its focus and concentrates on only one subject matter. All are trying to survive and live their used bookstore dream. It is certainly a time to readjust one’s business plan. Actually I’ve changed my plan multiple times throughout the years. One has to in this market. I’m in the middle of adapting another change but frankly I’m not sure which way to go or how to handle things.

OCUB has met multiple goals that I set over the years. Many were simple such as keeping it open my first year. The early days were a struggle because no one was coming in. I constantly changed the Main Street window display so those passing by would notice that someone different is running the store. I constantly added inventory. Daily. Something I still do. I had to work an extra year at my previous employment to cover store bills. That was hard because I was leaving a job I loved but it was time to move on. It was a leap of faith to believe the store would start paying for itself. But it did!

We recovered from moving from Main Street – no one wants to leave Main Street! – to the MarbleWorks. It took several years for customers to find the store but they did. We could expand and by rights we should. But it would mean higher costs. I don’t want to make that jump. The store is maxed but yet the size is doable when I’m working alone.

We are hanging in. But soon a decision will need to be made.

Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world! – Neil Gaiman

Made it! Welcome March!

frenchbooks_windowThank you all who came in and made February a fun month. I should clarify: the last fifteen days. The I-Hate-February 50% Off sale went from the 15th through the end of the month. I decided to extend it just because. Everyone who stopped in made the days pass quicker and with great humor. I was a tad nervous to use the word “hate” in my advertising but I do believe in ‘truth in advertising’. The intent was to poke fun at myself. Everyone who came into the store either laughed or agreed with me. So it turned out to be a rather surprising nice month.

Boxes are coming in just about everyday and I’m working very hard getting new arrivals on the shelves. Many French paperback books came in. Of course I don’t have room for them all. You’ll find a lot of them in the front window right now.

Time Marches on. Change is Good.

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Front entrance to Otter Creek Used Books in the Lazarus Building

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The Vermont section

I want to pay tribute to 20 Main Street – The Lazarus Building – previous home to Otter Creek Used Books. The building will be coming down this weekend. I feel bad that I’m not sad about it. Probably because I remember how I felt being down in the basement day after day. I brought life into it with paint, rearranged bookcases to even removing some for air circulation and light flow. What there was of the light. I was proud of what I brought into it but I have to admit there was only so much I could do. Do I even mention all the air fresheners that were sprinkled around the rooms? Crazy when we moved how many we found.

It was a good space though. I made the most of it. And it was filled with used books! So that accounts for some good vibes. I loved the front window and all of the light and warmth it provided. I like how through Jessica and her professional decorating skills new life was brought into the front upstairs room. The blue tiled floor, the yellow walls. Over-sized letters announcing BOOKS down the stairs. The wrought iron railing. Piling books on the stairs. And when you ventured down them the layout of bookshelves and all the dissplays on top. It had character. The stepping into the back room where more books were discovered. I enjoyed hearing first time customers oohing and ahhing about the ‘hidden room’. And the access to the back of the store where I could – and did a number of times – run out to pick up my order from Noonies in between customers.

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The back room

When it would get quiet in the store I would listen to customers above me walking around Green Mountain Shoe & Apparel. Loved it when children were trying on new boots! Clomp, clomp, clomp!

There were a lot of good things about the space. As much as there was good there were that many of bad and ickyness. But that’s not for now. Now is a time to celebrate all that the building was and represented.

Stan Lazarus was a nice man. With a great smile and sense of humor. He was a giving man who gave back to his community. I shopped at Lazarus for my shoes, jeans, raincoats and more. I remember many occasions of checking out what they had to offer from elementary through college years. I know the building stands as a symbol of yesterdays to many people. When I made the decision to move the store – in anticipation of the work on the train tracks – I heard from many people their concerns of how the move would affect the life of the building. I agreed but I also knew it was time to move on including my business. Unfortunately the owners never kept up with modernizing the building as they should.

The front desk

The front desk

The space was good to me and my business. Now is the time to celebrate it. I was able to buy a failed business and through my limited funding allow the business to grow. The owners of the building were very supportive of my efforts and to that I’m grateful and appreciative. They understood my goals and how I was going to get there.

Time moves on and there is no stopping it. And I’m not going to try to. I’ve always been one to look at my options and make a decision based on what I’m seeing and what I’m anticipating. Knowing the train tracks and overpass were being addressed and how that would affect my business, the issues of the space and how my daily attitude was starting to change. I’m happy I did as I love this space here in the Marble Works. The positives are overwhelming here. I miss Main Street but that is the only thing I miss. Okay, and the big window. Thank you Stan and the Trustees of the Lazarus Estate for your support and encouragement. Time marches on and I feel good about it.

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Mat Hall with the sign he designed and painted. It was to encourage drivers to slow down as they rounded the corner. Children would stop to talk to Ollie the Otter.

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Always fun to decorate the window. This window was celebrating Books

 

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Sales could be found on the patio as well as on the first floor.

 

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Helen was a helper. Here she is singing songs she adapted from the poetry of James Joyce

 

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Goodbye old friend!

 

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.” -Paulo Coelho, The Zahir 

Guess What’s Around the Corner? Yep! Holidays!

1-christmas2014Christmas. New Year’s. Right around the corner. Am I ready? Maybe… Ha! I’ve had my ideas flowing as for decorating the store (never mind my house). Mainly the windows in front, window in the Big Yellow Room, as well as for curb appeal. I started thinking about the windows before Halloween. I think I’ve got it set in my mind as to how it all will come together. Guess I better get cracking!

Inventory? Well, I have new (or rather new used…) books coming in all the time, so I think I’m okay with that. One just never knows what will come in. I do want to hunt down some more children’s books appropriate for the season, and vintage Christmas books. Oh, I’ve ordered more buttons from beanforest. Love his sense of humor and so do my customers! Those just arrived today. Yea!

I have been out straight since I was away for a few days in November. The constant SPS (sorting, pricing, shelving). Makes for a busy, busy used bookstore lady.

Today is Black Friday so it always make for an interesting day. Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. I’m also using the day to celebrate 8 years of owning the store. Eight years! Time sure goes by fast when you are having fun. And it has. And it has been. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. So for SMS (Small Business Saturday) there will be refreshments, a drawing for a gift certificate to the store as well as those who spend over $25 will be entered for a Better Middlebury Partnership drawing for Middlebury Money. It’s just going to be a fun day so stop in when you are in Middlebury!

 

 

October 2014 Middlebury Arts Walk – me

This is hard for me but I’m doing it. Hard for me to put myself out there but I know I have to do it. It’s not that I’m not proud of what I do it’s just well, personal. I love it. I’m happy with it. When I go home from tending the store I pick up my needle and thread and proceed to create.

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I like to repurpose. In this case, I took a tablecloth that someone embroidered flowers in its corners. I cut them out, as you can see, and made into a bunting. The scraps from the tablecloth went into most of the pieces seen above – books, signs, and the muffin tin boasting words describing angels. Nothing goes to waste.

I hope you enjoy the pieces as much as I enjoy stitching them.

September 2014 Arts Walk – “Words on Fire” with Pam H. Davis & Laurel Casey

[I had issues getting on my blog…weird stuff happening. Finally was able to log in and find my working pages and photos.]

End of summer
And beginning of winter
Is September!
Excerpt from a poem titled A Fun of September! by T. A. Ramesh

The September Arts Walk obviously happened earlier but the art is still on exhibit within the store. Pam H. Davis exhibited small constructions and framed images of constructions as an homage to the explosive verbiage permeating the summer of 2014. “Art which transmutes, transforms, translates can also confuse and provoke. I aim for communication not confusion, humor not rancor,” Pam H. Davis. See some of her work below.

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Bi-vale – Pam H. Davis

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Chill – Pam H. Davis

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Climate Change – Pam H. Davis

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Pick Your Own – Pam H. Davis

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Art at Work – Pam H. Davis

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Hope & More – Pam H. Davis

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Where Time Goes – Pam H. Davis

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Laurel Casey as Dr. L.H. Casey, Etymologist & Sociolinquist

The September Arts Walk also included the multi-talented artist and actress, Laurel Casey. Laurel (see above) took on the role of Dr. L.H. Casey, Etymologist, sociolinquist and author of the best-selling “Open Mouth-Insert Foot”. Casey lectured on what constitutes a Word on Fire. Personal Discourse Analysis were available for everyone’s most urgent communication needs. And some even took her up on the analysis.

It was a fun evening!

 

August Middlebury [Vermont] Arts Walk

Had a very busy week last week. A lot of new used books coming in (and going out!) so I’m behind in promoting the August Arts Walk. A day late…but better late than never, right?

Continuing with the theme I set for 2014, Celebrating Words!, I chose an artist who I found on Etsy, Rachel Gertrude who is all the way from California. Rachel attracted me because of her use of colors, her style and that she produces postcards. Rachel enhances her work with sayings that seem to fit with all that’s going in the world today. To take a step back and appreciate life and the living. I love her work. You can see more of it at her shop, http://www.etsy.com/shop/rachelgertrude.

Here is the display I set up to promote her work:

1-photo(117) 1-photo(119)1-photo 4(4) 1-photo 3(5) 1-photo 2(12) 1-photo 1(13)1-photo(118)I’ll leave you with a quote from Rachel, which I love: “How we live is just as important of a creative mark as our latest painting or whatever it is we’re doing.”

Otter Updates

We’ve been very busy in the store! So many books have come in so most of the time it’s been going through them – SPS (sorting, pricing, shelving).

1-photo(109)1-photo(106)1-photo(108)Slow and steady. Civil War to local authors and fiction and a lot of others sprinkled in. Come in and check them out. Surely something will catch your eye.

Last Friday – July 11, 2014 – was the Middlebury Arts Walk. The artist was Hannah Harding-Minton (SCAD ’05). Below is a sampling of her work keeping to our store’s theme of Words.

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Hope your summer is going as great as ours. We’ve a great selection of good summer reads. Stop in and peruse or at least stop in to say hi! Enjoy!

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