Thanksgiving Gratitude

“As we eocub_deerxpress our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”. – John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.

Wishing all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Check back on Friday for some fun news happening the next day Saturday, November 26. Small Business Saturday as well as my tenth year owning OCUB!


Taking Time

“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

November. A good time to take time and clear my head of authors, titles, cleaning, sorting and shelving. A good time to pick up a book or two and read it in a good, crowded coffeehouse. Walk. Breathe. Then come back to dig in for the holidays. With that, I will close the store Mon-Fri next week (Nov 7-11) reopening on Sat, Nov 12. Just  to get the fog out of my soul.

“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.” -Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows


A Library to Dream Of

“On a cloudy day, when the dim dance of the firelight and the warmth of the sconces are not enough, the books shed their own form of light. By the hundreds, they fill the shelves that stretch across every inch of exposed wall. They rise up to the ceiling, warriors of an impenetrable army, encircling my over-sized armchair and keeping me safe as they whisper their stories softly in my ear.” – Kelseyleigh Reber, If I Resist

“A library of mostly unread books is far more inspiring than a library of books already read. There’s nothing more exciting than finishing a book, and walking over to your shelves to figure out what you’re going to read next.” – Gabe Habash, The Wonderful and Terrible Habit of Buying Too Many Books, PWxyz (news blog of Publishers Weekly), February 16, 2012

“How can you be bored? There are so many books to read!” – Liailah Giftry Akita, Pearls of Wisdom: Great Mind

img_0590Those are statements book people can relate to. To own a used bookstore is over the top though. Seriously how can it not be when you are surrounded by books – on the shelves, in boxes, or neatly piled throughout the store? And knowing new inventory comes in just about every day. What titles will be found?  To catch a slight glimpse of the personality of the giver and their library. I was speaking to a dealer a couple of weeks ago and he told me he jumps into new arrivals as soon as they come in. He can’t help himself and doesn’t want to be disciplined to finish a box he’s started. I, on the other hand, glance through the new boxes but make myself go back to the box I’ve been working in before I start another one. Well, most of the time.

What about books leaving the store? Of course it is exciting to sell a book knowing each is heading out on a new adventure. Well, let me tell you I recently had the pleasure – and what a pleasure it was! – to shelf a library for a new house. My eyes got wide when I heard of the request. How much fun was that going to be? Hannah and I didn’t know the woman placing this request but through our conversations we came up with a description of what we thought the owner of such a library would be: a world traveler, open-minded, lover of life, diverse interests but mainly a wonderful, down-to-earth woman. Then we got to scour our shelves and fill boxes that would make an amazing library for such a reader. A broad range of titles, authors, book colors and genre. We had a blast. Once the books were in place we received an invitation to view this library. We were so proud of those books. How good they looked in their new home and they knew it. They were certainly standing tall.  Hannah and I, of course, tucked in a book to represent ourselves in this new library. Hannah’s book was Beatrix Potter – The Complete Tales. My contribution was Parini’s,  The Last Station (of course). And yea, we feel we were accurate in our description of her. 🙂

“I never understood people who don’t have bookshelves.” – George Plimpton


Otterly A Turn Around Day

img_0618When I started this blog way back when, I vowed it would be an honest presentation of what I went through as a used bookstore owner. The good, the bad and all the in-between. Okay, I’ve not been very good about adding to the blog but hey, it’s hard work being a used bookstore lady. I’m not one who sits back and reads all day. I’d love to but when the boxes of books are all around me and those books are screaming at me to let them out I have to do as I’m told. Every day it’s sorting, pricing and shelving (SPS). I’m not complaining. That’s just the way it is. Reading for me is generally when I’m home.

So the other day, it came down to a battle of who’s the stronger. Me or a customer. To end the suspense, of course,  it was me. But really, right? My store. My rules. Though I do feel I’m usually overly generous. Sometimes I can’t be. My priority has to be keeping the store alive. If I lose a sale or customer over principle than so be it. I can live with it.

I get it that pricing is arbitrary. But yet I have a pricing system that I think is very fair. Each book is generally individually priced taking into account many factors – out-of-print, condition, value, etc. – as well as what is being offered on the internet. When someone comes in looking for store credit – especially someone who has never been into the store before – and is demanding and questioning my quote and then my pricing all I can say is you aren’t going to win. I can and do dig in my heels. And frankly, I don’t need additional books. I need buyers. So if my quote isn’t satisfactory then you are welcome to take the books away with you. I won’t be upset nor take it personally. Just like my quote isn’t a slam to the customer but based on what works in my store.  I got through the situation.  He got through it as well and maybe no one was the winner in the long run. Of course, try as I might it did affect me. I don’t like people walking away thinking I wasn’t fair but yet are they taking into account my situation? I’m not getting into the nitty-gritty of the situation because I want to move past it.

img_0616About an hour later after the gentleman left a woman comes up to the counter with two books. One she is buying and one she wants to show me. Still reeling from the situation earlier I’m bracing myself. Now what? She shows me a book she brought in from an outside sale bin. All hardcover books are $1.00. Paperbacks 50 cents. She opens the book to show me that someone tucked in a one dollar bill. Someone paying it forward. Ah…perfect! That was the way I ended my day and that’s where I’ll end this blog entry.

Crazy Used Bookstore Lady

09205523-1F71-4D5D-96C2-8B8D93C7EE4CYes, 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!

Best Part of Owning a Used Bookstore

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.

Busy Otter and An Upcoming Sale!

Oblueshelf (2)tter 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 aisle_bookscustomers – 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.

thackerayHave quality product. I do my best to scour books to get those that you’d expect to find in a used bookstore. Modern reads to an obscure book. I think I fairly succeed. That means always searching.

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.

50off_signSo 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

April! We made it!

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

IMG_1133The 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.

Happy spring!


The I-Hate-February Sale

FebruaryHere 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.