Used Bookstores

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

The I-Hate-February Sale

FebruaryHere we are again. February.

“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.

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N…for a few days

“- “Women should all move to Amazonia, or at least vacation there four times a year.”
– “Amazonia?”
– “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

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.

Have a great week!

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.]

 

 

 

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 

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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