Used Books = Love

IMG_2525Well, I think I’ve exhausted all possible ways to get WordPress to recognize that I am the owner of this blog. I have no idea what email I used to register the site…my home email (which I no longer have access to)…my previous work email (which I no longer have access to) or whatever. I know I tried several different email accounts (yahoo or hotmail) until I settled on gmail. So there’s that. I also have switched banks from when I purchased the store so there’s no way I can verify any purchases from that time. I’m screwed. That’s one way to look at it, right?

When I bought the store I felt like I was starting out again in my life. A new beginning. I loved my previous job and all that came with it. Well, most of it. Anything I didn’t like wasn’t going to work its way into the store. It’s a used bookstore so really it should be positive. Right!

So I’m going to now look for other locations to set down my blog. Especially before this old laptop I’m using decides to hit the dust. It’s turning out to be not as dependable as I’d like. Sometimes programs appear and sometimes not. I want to get ahead of it. So I’m going to look at it as an adventure. And see what is offered out there in the internet world. Especially those that are database driven. Then I will upload books to my website as well.  So that’s pretty exciting. And daunting for the increase work I’ll be faced with but heck, it’s a used bookstore, right? Which means it isn’t work. It’s love.


Frustrated Otter :(

shakespeareI’ve been having internet issues which is why I didn’t post last Thursday. I thought my draft was saved. It wasn’t. I knew I should have saved my writing to a word document but I didn’t. That’s okay because it was a touch of negative.

This week I’m having issues getting my new laptop to find my blog. Well, it found it but WordPress won’t let me find the Admin to edit. I can find the site but the techs have told me the site has been lost. Lost? I can find it on this laptop. The one that is slowly dying. Hope it doesn’t take down the blog with it…

Anyways, I’m doing well, The store is doing well. All is well. Just experiencing technical frustration.

A number of boxes have made their way into the store via some great book scouts I have. A lot of non-fiction and then some obscure fiction. What’s come in? Ah, get your shoes on and come in and find out. That’s right. I’m all about getting you to come into the store. How else do you expect to find out what OCUB is all about?

Back to the new laptop and see if the techies have found out how I can access the site. Wish me luck!

(Plus I needed to find out if my site was really available. It is! Phew!)

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.




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


Here it is. August!


“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

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


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.