Great news! I now have the ability to sell gift cards through Square on the OCUB Facebook page. Check it out, if so inclined.
Honestly, it has been quite a time for me and the store. I ended 2019 on a strong note with January and February equally strong. I was in the process of readdressing my marketing plan to prepare for an uncertain summer due to the upcoming Main Street construction. I took my books offline to reevaluate what I was offering. I purchased several collections to recharge the shelves. And then BAM! everything was turned upside down and I feel like I got caught unprepared for what was to come. Fortunately I know I wasn’t alone but I have to come up with another plan.
You see, when I purchased the store I had to turn everything around – the physical space, the inventory, the reputation. It was a process that, at the time, was exciting because I knew there was only one direction to go in and that was up. I worked an extra year at my employment to carry the lack of business that store was experiencing. Then I took a huge leap of faith to leave that job and devote my time fully to the store. It took five years but I got there. The store became financially sound. Then I had to look at the future of the location the store was in. I knew from my previous employment that the building was going to eventually come down. And I knew the condition of the train overpass next to the store was in a bad way. The state could condemn it at anytime and that would obviously affect my business. So I decided to be proactive and started contacting landlords of spaces currently available in town. That led me to here, the historic MarbleWorks. That also meant I had to once again put my nose to the grindstone and work to get my business back. I almost didn’t make it but I did. So that was twice I had to turn the business around.
Now I am faced with the very possibility of turning the store around for the third time. Frankly, I don’t know if I have it within me. When we were told to close I stayed away for a few days. Then I would come in to check the mail and the answering machine but I would leave because I just couldn’t deal with whatever was going on with the world. Here it is April 7 and I’m trying my best to address things I’ve wanted to do but couldn’t seem to get to it – change displays, go through shelves with a better eye and weed, clean, and other used bookstore chores. I’m trying to not be discouraged. All I can say is that once we are given the okay to reopen I will have one hell of a sale to try to keep the store going. But honestly, I am going be realistic.
For now, I wish all well. I look forward to reconnecting with everyone real soon.
“To wish to be well is a part of becoming well.” – Seneca
“Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?” – Lord Alfred Tennyson
“Time passes. That’s the rule. No matter what happens, no matter how much it might feel like everything in your life has been frozen around one particular moment, time marches on.” – Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye
In this case it was February. And now it’s March. A big sigh of relief. Thanks to all who stopped by to check out the I Hate February Sale. It proved once a gain to be a lot of fun.
March brings changes to the store. Hannah will now only work Mondays and every other Saturday. She has taken a position at Oxford Company in Cornwall. I’ll miss her and our routine but I’m very happy for her. She’ll now be surrounded with art and the ability to put her college degree to good work. I’ll be in the store Tuesday-Friday with every other Saturday off. Monday’s I still have charge of my grandsons.
Also March presents me with some down time. I’ll be getting away the week of March 23-27. The ocean calls me. Fried clams and the most delicious clam linguine on the planet. I’ve already started my pile of books to bring. Have my coffee houses picked out to put my feet up in and hunker down with a juicy novel. And Thursday evening of that week, author Erik Larson will be speaking of his new release, “The Splendid and the Vile”. Very excited to hear him and to dig into the book as I’m currently reading, “In the Garden of Beasts”.
On the last Sunday of March the Vermont Book, Posters & Ephemera Fair will be held in Burlington at the Hilton Burlington on Battery Street. This fair is sponsored by the Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers Association (VABA) and is the 27th annual. The hours are 10-4 and it is free! I will be there this year as well as many of my used bookstore friends and mentors. For nothing else, it will be great to hang out with them. And to check out their tables and shelves. It’s always a great time!
One more March thing. Look for some store happenings on the 13th. I have owned OCUB for thirteen years and the on the 13th of each month I will host some kind of surprise. Or a sale. Maybe even both! Watch for an announcement on Facebook.
“My father was often impatient during March, waiting for winter to end, the cold to ease, the sun to reappear. March was an unpredictable month, when it was never clear what might happen. Warm days raised hopes until ice and grey skies shut over the town again.” – Tracy Chevalier, Girl with a Pearl Earring
She had a kind heart, though that is not of much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation. – Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop
‘Why do you buy books you don’t even read?’ our daughter asks us. That’s like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat. For company, of course. – Sarah Addison Allen, The Sugar Queen
I’m back from having a few days off from the world. Cleared my head. Read a few pages. Had my fav dish in the whole world or at least in my part of the world. I live for this meal and I’m never disappointed. I eat it with my eyes closed so I can enjoy each and every mouthful. And then walk it all off! Not a beach but in this case to the local theater to hear author, Lee Child. I have never picked up his books except to shelf but now I have to. What a down-to-earth author. He came across as clever and fun. So I need to look through my stock and see what I have of his and start in.
During this trip I stopped in a number of used bookstores. This trip was different as I cut the number down to just three. I’m a shop owner who sticks to a budget and I met that amount with the three shops. One store is in the middle of closing his physical shop, one recently moved to a smaller and less rent space (his third such move in fifteen years), another has changed its focus and concentrates on only one subject matter. All are trying to survive and live their used bookstore dream. It is certainly a time to readjust one’s business plan. Actually I’ve changed my plan multiple times throughout the years. One has to in this market. I’m in the middle of adapting another change but frankly I’m not sure which way to go or how to handle things.
OCUB has met multiple goals that I set over the years. Many were simple such as keeping it open my first year. The early days were a struggle because no one was coming in. I constantly changed the Main Street window display so those passing by would notice that someone different is running the store. I constantly added inventory. Daily. Something I still do. I had to work an extra year at my previous employment to cover store bills. That was hard because I was leaving a job I loved but it was time to move on. It was a leap of faith to believe the store would start paying for itself. But it did!
We recovered from moving from Main Street – no one wants to leave Main Street! – to the MarbleWorks. It took several years for customers to find the store but they did. We could expand and by rights we should. But it would mean higher costs. I don’t want to make that jump. The store is maxed but yet the size is doable when I’m working alone.
We are hanging in. But soon a decision will need to be made.
Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world! – Neil Gaiman
“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.
“- “Women should all move to Amazonia, or at least vacation there four times a year.”
– “It’s the girl world in my head, where I go when I’m annoyed with Carter, or just men in general. There are five shoe stores per capita, nothing has any calories, and all the books and movies end happy ever after.”
– “I like Amazonia. When do we leave?”
~ Nora Roberts
“I said, I prefer the ocean when it’s gray. Or not really gray. A pale, in-between color. It reminds me of waiting for something good to happen.”
~ Lauren Oliver, Delirium
“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
~ Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now What that all means is I’m taking a few days and heading south – to the NH/ME shoreline – to clear my head of book dust, read a few a them, eat some buttery seafood, and watch the waves pound the rocky shore. Even put my toes into the icy Atlantic.
2014 Road Trip
OCUB will be closed Mon-Fri, November 2-6. I’ll be back open on Saturday but at 10 a.m. (regular advertised store hours) since the Farmers Market will be heading to their winter quarters at Mary Hogan Elementary School.
A customer asked me what I am bringing to read. I’m going to finish Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon. Also finish Book Row: An Anecdotal and Pictorial History of the Antiquarian Book Trade by Marvin Mondlin and Roy Meador. Two to start: Michael Gruber’s The Book of Air and Shadows and The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. But you know, I’m going to pick up more books along the way to and from NH/ME as we stop in to say “Hi!” to some favorite book dealers. More than likely those will be the ones I’ll want to start in with.
* Please add [used] in front of the word “bookstore” in the following quotes:
“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
Just 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.
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.]