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!

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 

An Otter Merry Christmas!

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.

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Merry Middlebury Stag & Doe Night

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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June Middlebury Arts Walk – Featuring beanforest

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beanforest logo

For the June 2014 Middlebury Arts Walk the store is featuring button art by artist, Vince of beanforest. All the way from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Keeping with the theme I set for 2014: Celebrate Words. Dozens of wearable buttons spouting all sorts of thoughts relating to books, authors, reading, literature, etc.

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sampling of beanforest buttons

A little info about Vince: In elementary school, he often got in trouble for laughing at inappropriate times. In middle school, he often told failed jokes that were met with confused silence. His sense of humor finally balanced out somehow in high school. He enjoys writing, drawing, mixing metaphors, biking, meeting people, reading, anticipating the break in electronic dance music, anomalies, and dozens of thousands of other things, Writing in the third person distresses him.

All button orders are stamped by hand either by Vince or a friend, and with the exception of classic literature quotes in the public domain (Shakespeare, Melville, etc.), all artwork and phrases are original, written and designed by him. He offers so much more than what I chose as I kept to the theme of a bookstore.

You can find Vince (as I did!) on etsy.com or through his art/comic blog at jankybeanforest.blogspot.com.

My favorite button? “hell ya, helvetica!” For its randomness.

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June 2014 Middlebury Arts Walk display featuring beanforest

I’m a Used Bookstore Nerd – Shakespeare & Co.

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…

Paris1931Those 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:

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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.

 

Otterly Rambles

ocub_blocksSo 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.

Thanks!

Happy New Year!

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“Perhaps that is where our choice lies — in determining how we will meet the inevitable end of things, and how we will greet each new beginning,” from the book BURNING by Elana K. Arnold.

Happy New Year one and all! May 2014 equally bless us with good cheer and fortune.

Thank you for a wonderful 2013.

Barbara Harding, owner