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

 

Upcoming Holiday Season – Thanksgiving and Christmas to New Year’s

Here it is the middle of November! Next week Thanksgiving. Hard to believe. Seems like the year is whizzing by.
2014_ChristmasI thought I’d post my holiday schedule. I will be closed Thanksgiving Day. My daughter and son-in-law will be cooking up the feast this year. So this used bookstore lady will be putting her feet up with grandsons crawling all over her. I will offer to help clean up but I know they’ll shoo me out of the kitchen so I’ll play with the 3 1/2 year old and 11 month old some more. When I return home I know I’ll be so worn out I’ll have to put my feet up again but this time sit with a cup of tea and a good read and enjoy quiet time.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving marks nine years that I’ve owned the store. 9 years! So that day I’ll be hosting a 50% off sale. I know! An exciting day all the way around.  Buying books is what keeps the store alive. It’s also Small Business Saturday which the store is participating in. Free SMS cloth bags to the first ten shoppers.

Starting Sunday, November 29 the store will be open 11-3 pm and will be open each Sunday through December with those same hours. Obviously I will be closed on Christmas Day as well as New Year’s Day. Christmas and New Year’s Eve I will close around 3pm or last customer.

For 2016 I am going to try something I haven’t tried before. I am going to be closed on Mondays, January-March. I’m doing that for the all important “me” time. I have worked six days a week for the past nine years.  During foliage and over the Christmas holidays I work a full week. I’m going to cherish having two days off in a row for those months. Just think of all the mischief I can get myself in.

If you have been in lately you have seen full boxes coming in and empty boxes going to recycling. It’s been craziness in here. A good crazy. New used books getting shelved every day. My five-day vacation yielded a number of books that have already made their way up on the shelves – history, farming, Vermontica and then some.

DSC_0003Here’s OCUB holiday calendar:

  • Nov 26 – Thanksgiving, closed
  • Nov 28 – 50% off 9 Year Anniversary Sale & Small Business Saturday
  • Nov 29 – Open 11-2pm and each Sunday throughout December
  • Dec 10 – Stag & Doe Night . Open until 8 pm
  • Dec 24 – Open 10-3pm or last customer
  • Dec 25 – Christmas Day closed. Merry Christmas!
  • Dec 31 – Open 10-3pm or last customer
  • Jan 1 – New Year’s Day closed
  • Jan 4 – closed and closed each Monday through March 28

Closing of A Used Bookstore (no, not mine)

* Please add [used] in front of the word “bookstore” in the following quotes:

Dickens_set“I hate that bookstores are closing. Hate it! What’s better than hanging out in a bookstore, be it independent or chain, and talking books with people who love books?” – Lisa Jackson

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking,”  – Jerry Seinfeld

“A civilization without retail bookstores is unimaginable. Like shrines and other sacred meeting places, bookstores are essential artifacts of human nature. The feel of a book taken from the shelf and held in the hand is a magical experience, linking writer to reader.” – Jason Epstein

“We didn’t just lose a bookstore though, we lost a bit of magic. We lost a bit of wonder. We lost a safe haven where it’s still OK to dream big dreams. To walk down aisles and aisles of “what if?” Books are not collections of paper, they’re invitations to different worlds. And being in a bookstore is like getting a passport.” – Jon Acuff

booksonbooksJust received word that a fellow used bookstore will be closing the end of October. It makes me sad and I’m grieving. Fortunately, the owner will still be around. He is taking a bit of his inventory  and sell online. But we all know that isn’t the same thing. He told me that he and his wife are happy and excited. They get their lives back after eighteen years. They get freedom. Not tied to the store anymore. Still it stinks. I’m sure he’ll still answer all my crazy questions. But it won’t be the same. Regardless, I wish them all the very best.

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Here Comes A Rollickin’ Good Week

Fun with books!

Here’s Hannah, Grey and me  with piles of our favorite books. Grey seems very intent. Not us. We know it’s going to be a rollickin’ good sale!

Guess what next week is? Give up? It’s SALE WEEK. Monday – Saturday, August 31 through September 5. Yep! All books are…ready for this?…. 50% OFF.  You saw that right. 50% off!  Following my mentor, Ben, let’s have some fun. Get in here and get all your books for 50% off.  That’s one book or boxes of books. All are half off.  All you bring up to the counter are discounted. Yes, all.  Celebrating OCUB being in the Historic MarbleWorks for four years. I know! Hard to believe but yet it feels like we’ve always been here.

“His hands were weak and shaking from carrying far too many books from the bookshop. It was the best feeling.” ― Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 1  [We have lots of bags and boxes.]

 

 

 

Otterly A Used Bookstore

paris3Owning a used bookstore is heaven. But you know that because it can be anything you want it to be. Above all it’s magical. You know that as well.

This summer I’ve had numerous customers from Great Britain step through my doors. They all speak of how it is getting harder to find used bookstores in their country.  Stores are closing their doors due to availability of buying on the internet. That makes them sad. Harder for them to find a store they can wander in to admire older books, pick them up, hold them, smell them, turn the pages, and most of all, to connect with the book before purchase. What a jewel of a shop I have, they say. I must do all I can to keep the store alive. I tell them I try. I try very hard to keep it going. To keep it viable. To keep it fresh. To keep it alive. To keep it. (p.s. it’s off the market!)

IMG_0841I’d like to think that I’ve kept my enthusiasm up since purchasing the store. I’d like to think that I’ve changed the store around to offer quality used books. Interesting books. Books that appeal to many of my customers. Finding books that one would be excited to discover on a shelf. Old books with amazing covers to unique books that one just doesn’t run into everyday. Classics.

somedaysI admit that I get claustrophobic. Having a used bookstore may not be the best choice of retail to take on but yet I have. I’m getting better with it. I can deal with the boxes and piles of books that I have to step over. I can make great piles that don’t fall over. That is an art, you know. I know my limits and work to stay within because I’m the one who’s in the store day-after-day. I know some potential customers get irritated with me when I decide to not accept books for purchase or credit. Regular customers get an exception. They keep me in business through their regular purchases. That’s fair. I think so. But then they know. They can walk in and know right away if I’m accepting books or not. I love them for that.

122012_5I gotta say that it makes me sad when I take in books and find the telltale Amazon sticker on the backs. I can purchase books that come in for resale but yet the customer doesn’t come in to buy books? Keep the store in business.  At least give a used bookstore a call/email to find out if a book is available in our stock. Telling me, as one drops off books for me to inspect, that they want me to stay around by keeping me supplied in books is totally missing the mark. I cannot be here without paying customers.

photo(7)Right now there is father sitting in a child’s chair reading to his daughter in the children’s room. How precious is that? That makes my heart sing and happy that I can be here so he can have a special moment with her. It’s those things that pushes me to remain open.  As well as the regulars and our great conversations from what we are reading to what’s going on with our lives. And of course those from Great Britain.

“I just love the smell of an old book store and the feel of the crisp pages
along my fingertips.”  ~Leah Spiegel, Foolish Games

 

June Middlebury Arts Walk features White Dragon Paper

IMG_2091White Dragon Paper is R. Lawton who makes handmade paper and journals since 2008.

The leather journals are made with recycled paper. R. Lawton prides herself on using only recycled, eco-friendly fiber and reducing the amount of paper that is wasted. The leather is sourced from a scrap bin of a local leather supply store located near her.

 

 
Here is a sampling of her handmade paper. I love the range of colors:

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You can find R. Lawton and White Dragon Paper at Etsy.com. Check her out!

Current Window Display – A Toast to the U.S. Virgin Islands

Highfield_windowA wonderful family friend asked if I would be interested in displaying some books he’s written. YES! was my response. Of course. I think I was more honored that he asked me than anything.

The local author is Arnold R. Highfield, a professor, historian, writer, and poet. He’s best known for his historical works on the Danish West Indies and the United States Virgin Islands. He began his teaching career in 1964 and taught in several colleges including the University of the Virgin Islands (St Croix campus), Lycee Jaccard in Pully, Switzerland, and Middlebury College.

In addition to his own writing, Highfield has published an impressive number of translation editions, and numerous other books, academic papers and articles along with two books of poetry.

Mr. Highfield and his wife, Shirley DeChabert-Highfield, have lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands since the 1960s and currently divide their time between homes in Le Grande Princesse, St. Croix, and Middlebury, VT.

Please stop in the store to see his books and list of his published works.

Thank you, Mr. Highfield. I am honored.

What does a used bookstore lady do when she has two days off?

Of course….visit another used bookstore! Rusty and I found ourselves heading northward and I remembered, “Hey! Ben’s having a 50% off sale! Let’s check it out!” So we did. Each used bookshop I visit I find that it totally reflects the owner. How can it not? [Yes, I wonder how my shop reflects me! What am I saying about myself? Curious.] CBS1The Country Bookshop [35 Mill Street, Plainfield, VT] is so Ben Koenig. And I mean that in the most respectful way. He has the best sense of humor and a broad knowledge of the used bookstore world – business and books. And knows his customers. I’ve always wanted to visit him in his world. Unfortunately he wasn’t in that day as Sundays are his day off. Mine, too. Lucky for him he has a great employee, Frances, who was minding the shop for him. We had a great conversation about books, the internet, and working in a used bookstore. I took advantage of his generous sale and left with a good stack of books to bring back here to the store. (Another way how we get inventory.) In fact, Ben, was the one who stated at a Brick & Mortar meeting that if you are going to have a sale why not make if fun for everyone. Make it 50%! So I do. And yes, it is a lot of fun. And a good way to move around inventory as well. When Ben is having a sale there are a zillion signs around proclaiming that one is going on. Here is one:CBS3It’s gets me how the sign states “It may seem too good but it’s true!” When I host a sale I get people coming up to me asking if ALL books are 50%. I guess it does seem too good to be true. But it is! That’s where the fun comes in. Seeing the joy over the book buyer’s face with the realization that yes, the books they have in their hand is indeed half off. CBS The next day, Rusty and I hiked Buck Mountain. It’s been on our bucket list for years. We decided to tackle it as the first hike of the season. A wonderful climb with an amazing view of the lower Vermont Champlain Valley. buck_snake

I’ve been a busy otter…

So busy. In fact, right now and for the past couple of weeks buying back college-related books – textbooks. And getting them packed up and shipped out for the next day. And on top of that helping customers, SPS (sorting, pricing, shelving) new arrivals, keeping the floor swept, filling in holes on the shelves, straightening shelves, and trying, really trying to keep the store tidy. If you’ve been in lately you know the last item hasn’t been happening. But not for trying!

MAW_052015The Middlebury Arts Walk was several weeks ago with the theme of Children. I chose the book  “Little Blue and Little Yellow,” by Leo Lionni, for a StoryWalk. The path of pages led from Printers Alley through the historic Marble Works with the last page at the store’s door. Upon reading the book, children were given a bag of their own Little Blue and Little Yellow, made from homemade playdough (that I and my grandson, Greyson made) to create their own story of the pair. It is a great story about friendships as well as color. And the book sold that night. The pages were photocopied and laminated to preserve the book.

I’m excited about June’s Arts Walk. I’ll be featuring the work from White Dragon Paper. The artist, R. Lawton, hails from Ohio. She is a papermaker as well as a book binder. I’ll tell more about her and show images of her work as the time gets closer. I love handmade paper and I love books!

Must get back to work! Thought I’d just jot a quick note. Especially since a valued customer noted I had lapsed! 🙂

 

 

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