Two weeks before Christmas. It feels oh so magical with all the fresh snow. And this is turning into a very special Christmas for my family. We welcomed a new grandchild into our family yesterday, 12/10/2014. Lincoln Thomas. Mother and baby are doing very well. He is a wee one but healthy.
I’m reworking my website. It’s just a perfect time. Like I don’t have anything else to do. Oh, but it’s all good and change is good. Just don’t be surprise if you come back for a visit and the site has changed again. What’s the saying: women have the right to change their mind? Yea, so that. Actually there are so many templates I want to try them all out but for now I’ll use this one.
Back to straightening up shelves, restocking and all that fun stuff.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
and, of course, he goes to Shakespeare & Company (twice!). He so nicely brought me a gift.
Perfect! Right? And no, I won’t sell it. Promise! (Yes, I’ve been known to sell my daughter’s books as I’m reading them in the bookstore. Sorry, Hannah…) It’s definitely a book that goes home with me. Thanks, Bill!
Lots going on in here! And of course…there’s always the used books…
Paris in May! Celebrating all that’s French. Particularly Paris. Why? Why not? Read my previous post to catch-up, if you want. Shakespeare & Co. is the focal point and acknowledging Sylvia Beach and George Whitman, Paris and France. All in good fun. And please note the cherry blossom branch in the front window. I made them. And kinda proud that I came up with idea. You see, if I’m not reading I’m embroidering. Making up or adapting designs. So here’s to Paris!
Middlebury Arts Walk! Happening this Friday night, May 9, 5-7pm. Stop by. The theme for 2014 in the store is Words. I’m pretty excited about it. Words in many forms. For Friday night the featured artist is Nancy Scarcello, a self-taught artist, photographer, picture framer, drum maker and set designer from Florence, VT. She’s also a writer and a lover of words (:-)), a sign painter for many years, so creating with words is a melding of her two favorite things, arts and words which is also a vehicle for her to put her universal message out into the world. Perfect for celebrating Words!
“Heaven is a place with books and cherry trees,” Shakespeare and Company. (From a 2014 email they sent me!)
Before I get into that I want to report that I had so much fun at the Sustainable Living Expo 2014 held Mar 29. A few people came up to the booth asking why there was a library at the Expo. My response, “mmmm….well, I represent my store, Otter Creek Used Books, and selling a sampling of our books.” Sales were great.
So being a used bookstore nerd…
Those who know me, know my infatuation with Shakespeare & Co. I ‘connected’ with Sylvia Beach when I read about her life as a bookseller in Paris. Her story was one of persistence, courage, and skill. What a thrill to have been in Paris during her time. Not so much during the Nazi takeover but for the authors that frequented her shop. The books, the conversations… I know it was hard work for her. In my simple life I get how much busier she had to be to maintain the store’s existence and her quest to helping out struggling writers.
I have a customer who has become a good friend and a great supporter of my efforts here. He’s always coming in with ideas to help increase exposure, customers and sales. He gets the business. Used bookstores and retail. Some ideas are helpful. Some are good intentions. Some I wish I had the money at hand to take on. I take them all seriously and mull them over to see if they are viable for me. (Which comes down to no costs.) His latest was an easy one. Paris In May. Celebrating all that is French during May. Still working out ideas but one that I said I could easily do was contact Shakespeare & Company. Of course I had no idea what I’d write about or what I was asking for or expecting. But writing was easy. Until I sat down at my computer to type out an email. But I wrote I wasn’t sure what I was asking or thinking of but was hoping for some sort of connection. I guess. And to serve as an intro to Bill and his friend who will be heading over to Paris soon. Including hoping he’d buy something and bring back a receipt. (Of course he has to now.) So I clicked “send” and off went the email. Really not expecting much. But lo and behold! a few days later I got a response.
Here I am this small used bookstore. A pin dot in the map of the world. Receiving a return email from THE used bookstore in the world – to me, that is. They read my blog. Those who know me know that I get uncomfortable when people tell me they read this but when I read their email I was excited and honored. They admired my perseverance and devotion to books. And I touched them all. They wrote that! They mentioned my move and the photos of the space here in the Marble Works and that we (as booksellers) and books need light and how it looks so warm and welcoming. Then they wrote about not waiting for Bill to bring me back something but was sending me a parcel. And they did. Here is what I received:
George Whitman must have been an amazing bookseller. Definitely. He picked up where Sylvia Beach had left off. His visiting authors were Lawrence Durrell! Styron, Henry Miller, Saroyan, James Baldwin! Oh my, his list is just as long as impressive. I’ve been devouring the book photos and pulling out ideas to try out in the store: Mirror of Love, for instance, and a writer’s nook but of course, more reflective of this store. Pity the next customer who buys Dostoevky’s The Idiot! 🙂
His daughter, Sylvia is now taking over the store. And yes, she is named after THE Sylvia. And is currently working on the history of the store as well as managing the store in her father’s absence. And she is gaining in fame with her impressive list of modern authors.
“Heaven is a place with books and cherry trees,” was their last sentence in their email response to me. Doesn’t that just conjure a beautiful image? I don’t have a cherry tree – yet – but I’m working on one in my fashion that will be ready for May.
“Books are works of the imagination, aren’t they? So, a bookshop should reflect the imagination,” George Whitman (1913-2011), Shakespeare & Co, Paris.
That is my motivator.
Look for Hannah in the gym, booth #M43. She’ll have oodles of books available for sale from solar building, ecology, farming, herbs and gardening, spirituality, self-sufficiency, vegan cookbooks, to building and repairing houses. The list goes on and on.
I’ll be in the store selling what doesn’t go to the Expo.
Should be a good show. Check it out!
So much for New Year resolutions! That’s all I’m going to say about that. The year has so far been very good to the store. I’ve been busy with SPS – sorting, pricing, shelving. That is what my time has been taken up with. No complaints here!
In between all my store busyness, I’ve also been thinking of what to write about. Have I covered all there is about owning a used bookstore? No. But I don’t want to nag about stuff. I don’t want to complain about things. I want to be positive and let go some of the weirdness. Some things are just not meant to be written about. Like what? Like how I sweep the floor every day, mop as needed – careful around the books piled on the floor. I like the vision of walking into the store and noticing a clean floor in the Big Yellow Room. The light reflecting in through the windows. It gives a cozy feel between the bookcases. To not forget to water the plants. That kind of stuff. Also rearranging shelves displaying books and nicknacks. To make it interesting to regular customers always looking for what’s new.
I’ve also given myself permission to read during open store hours. What??? Seriously that was hard to do. I always felt I had to appear busy doing something. I have no idea why. Maybe I just don’t want people to think I sit around all day. Well, I’m not sitting all the time. My in-the-store book I’m reading is George Orwell’s, Keep the Aspidistra Flying. More on the book later.
Currently I’ve been working on a literary tour of Addison County, Vermont. I did two guides while employed at the Addison County Chamber of Commerce – Mid Vermont Heritage Guide. Working on a take-off of them. It’s a lot of research and a lotta fun. Check it out. There is a link of the beginning stage at the top of the page. It is a work in progress. A lot of info is missing including links but they’ll be coming. And photos. Let me know what you think and what needs to be added. Suggestions are encouraged. Part of the process.
Hard to believe but here is 2014. I never do resolutions but this year I’m so into it. Thought I’d share some of what I’ve written down with the store in mind:
- More bookcases!
- More shelves!
- More postings
- More books online
- More photos
- More creativity
I think you get where I’m coming from. More! And it’s not pressure I’m putting on myself but getting totally back involved in the store. I’ve got all these ideas swirling in my head so with the new year it’s time I get those ideas out of the head and into the store. I can easily get bogged down with boxes of books so I’m trying to, I guess, have more fun and letting go. Giving myself permission to not work so hard (sorting, pricing, shelving) but enjoy what I have – an amazing used bookstore. Probably it’s more amazing that I own a used bookstore.
And I want to post interesting books that come in so you see what my inventory is like. Especially since this website is still a blog. Like this book, “Flowers: Their Origins, Shapes, Perfumes & Colours” by J. E. Taylor, Ph.D., F.L.S. Published by John Grant, Edinburgh, 1906, fourth edition:
And a quote from the book: “Numbers of hard-working men and women, wearied with brain as well as manual labour, are learning to restore their lowered energies by such country outings as the pursuit of natural science involves. Every day we are proving that “man liveth not by bread alone”; and that sunny blue skies, laughing streams, and flower-bedecked fields are full of lofty and even spiritual teachings.”