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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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

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.

Hannah Harding Minton 1Hannah Harding Minton 2Hannah Harding Minton 3

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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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

Random Thoughts on Used Bookstore Daily Activities

Sitting here thinking of what I should write and nothing specific is coming to mind. So this post is going to be of random thoughts from this used bookstore lady.

This year for the Middlebury Arts Walk I have been celebrating bookmarks. It was interesting during the first walk I was asked by a customer, “What type of bookmarks are you featuring? For a website?” Huh? It took me a few moments for me to register what she was asking. “For books,” I replied. Then she got confused. I showed her one of the bookmarks and then she understood. Interesting. Come into the store and see the bookmarks I’m offering for sale. They are mostly made by Vermont artists. Only one isn’t.

My reason for choosing bookmarks is to highlight how there are so many cool things for books – actual books with pages one has to manually turn – as opposed to e-readers. One can purchase or make a cool cover but how about bookmarks? Book lights? Book covers? And when the book falls apart you can make art. Well, you could. You don’t have to but you could.

If you have been by the store lately you would have noticed that the vines on the outside of the building has been removed. I was somewhat torn about taking it down but I am very happy with the results. My signage stands out and as you walk by you can actually see my window displays. That excites me very much because that was one thing I missed moving from Main Street – that huge window. Now I have two facing the parking lot. I have to start planning my displays now. Before with the vines the windows were hard to see so I didn’t spend time on them nor changed them often.

Another change on this side of Marble Works is that the Farmers Market has moved over here. The area overlooking the Otter Creek is being re-sod for the new Riverfront Terrace and Walkway. To accommodate those coming to the Market I have been opening the store earlier at 9 a.m. Both Wednesday and Saturdays. It has been great fun for me. I’ve been welcoming even locals who didn’t know I moved the store two years ago. They thought I closed. Once again proving that one can do everything one can to promote a business (in this case) but not everyone is going to get it. Aside from telling each individual. I don’t mean to be rude. It’s just the way it is. I’m good with that.

The 50% sale went over very well the previous week. Once again it was an unadvertised sale. It allows me to thank customers – new and old – for their business as well as to turn over inventory. I have many new boxes to add to the store. Including ten boxes stored in my house and those are mighty fine books: world history, WWI, WWII, books on books and more. They are itching to come in. And I’m itching to get them out of the house.

Yesterday – Friday, August 9 – was National Book Lovers Day and all books were 10% off to celebrate. Again, a nice surprise for customers.

I’m in my quiet time of the store -2 pm-3:30. This is the time I close the store for a few minutes to check my mailbox and enjoy some fresh air. So that’s what I going to do. Later.

 

The Rumpus Continues for Two More Days!

08022013_saleAs the chalkboard sign indicates there is a 50% sale going on for all books. I call it a secret sale. In other words, you have to be walking in or by to note the sale as well as see the sign greeting you when you walk into the store.  An appreciation sale for customers and to help move around inventory and, of course, to encourage new  customers. The sale, which started on Monday, has been going very well. Fun to surprise customers especially the regulars.

Tomorrow should be fun with the Middlebury Farmers Market on this side of the Marble Works, the North Marble parking lot. It’s moving so the other side, the Riverfront Park, can  get needed improvements. The Farmers Market will continue on this side for the rest of the season. I’m already planning on my lunch – Thai  food – picking up veggies, and a Saturday favorite, chocolate croissant. How easy it will be to run out in between customers to make a purchase or two. Of course I’m more excited about the potential to reach more customers who otherwise might not even know this store exists because they only stay on that side of Marble Works. But have you tried the Thai food? Wouldn’t it be fun to sit on the marble block (see above), enjoying a good read (a used book, of course!), and chowing down on some good food?

 

 

What Happens in a Used Book Store When It’s Quiet?

So, wouldn’t you like to know? Actually, believe it or not, I get asked that a lot. “So you probably just sit and read all day. What a job you have.” Actually no. It really is hard work. But then again it is a used bookstore so, seriously, the work isn’t all that hard. Or that bad. But it is still work. There is always books to shelve. Always. Keeping fiction in order and filling in the holes of purchased titles. Sweeping. Dusting. Slipping in reading or at least skimming a few pages.

But what happens on the days when, well, customers are far between? Say on a snowy day that no one in their right mind would be on any road except for a used bookstore owner and the postal worker? And why do we always seem to make it in? Why don’t we stay home like sane people do? Because we don’t want to disappoint customers. Those that need to have something fresh to read. To curl up on a sofa with a fresh pot of tea or a cup of steaming coffee. We don’t like to disappoint them. So we trod in and open the doors, sweep off the sidewalk, turn on the lights and sit and wait. Even if no one will show at the door at least we were open in case we were needed.

I’ve always wondered what other used bookstore owners did on those quiet days. Me? I generally do the same as always except every hour I go outside and sweep off the sidewalk leading to my door. Wander the shelves to tuck in books, re-alphabetize as needed and think that I should be reorganizing Religion and finish Cookbooks, and Gardening but well, I don’t. I’ll save it for another day. Dusting? Do used bookstore owners really dust? Doesn’t that hurt the ambiance? Just a thought. And then the mighty question, now what do I read? That took a bit until I finally settled on P.G. Wodehouse’s, Jeeves Omnibus. But then there is also Kipling and what about…ugh! That is a perfect dilemma for a used bookstore owner – settling on what next to read.

Today being a wintry day with more snow on the way tonight I posed a question to my fellow booksellers in Vermont, “Hey, what are you doing to entertain yourself on this quiet, snowy day?” Of course, I made it sound that I was quite busy – out straight – because I don’t want them to know I’m having a slow day. Kidding. I told them. I’ve had three customers so far and hoping that no one is taking pity on me because the snow has brought out tons of customers for them! Actually we are all very supportive to one another. Yes, for real. No real competition amongst us. Unless, of course, at a library sale but that’s for another story.

As I mentioned, I emailed the VABA (Vermont Antiquarian Bookseller Association) group and here is the response I received: “Right now I am busy preparing the brochure for the book fair, but I have done any and all of those things on a slow day.  The cleaning is usually the last thing, though.  Slow days are also usually when I can’t ignore the bookkeeping any more, and write up sales, etc. Tea is always much more appealing, sometimes while reading the local paper, and takes up far too much of the day,” from one seller up north.

Here’s someone just down the road from me, “Well, I’ve been repairing and cleaning some books. Starting to pack for the book fair. Dealing with several small chores that needed to get done but kept putting off. Checking facebook, checking email, and watching videos on YouTube. It’s 4 pm, and I actually have two people in the shop but they spending most of their time petting the cat! Not snowing here right now. Less than an hour to closing.”

And from some unknown part of Vermont (;-)) I received this response: “Yep!  It has been snowing here all day….winter getting in the last licks.  Did not go to the store today…schools closed, road only plowed once and the plow just went up the hill for the second time today.  So, I worked on my taxes…always a wonderful thing to do on a snowy day…and I have a little less hair and fewer dollars in my pocket after the government takes it’s cut.  I wonder if we could qualify for some of those government grants and handouts for historic preservation on Antiquarian Book Stores or something along that line…maybe even for being mentally deranged in working for little or nothing??? Thanks for the break in the boring work of doing tax forms, where completion of one form requires another form to complete the form of another form so you can do the form you started on, and those wonderful people in the Washington, DC area that work on paperwork reduction!!!!!! Best, Name withheld to protect the guilty party.

See we always keep ourselves busy even if we can’t make it into the store. But he would have if he could have I bet!

Oh! Time for me to turn out the lights and head home. Grab my book – ok, books – to read tonight and get ready to repeat for tomorrow. But hopefully busier.

Merry Christmas!

I didn’t mean to let all this time get away from me between posts. Ah, the life of a used bookstore, I guess. I’ve just been busy with my routine and blogging became secondary. My weekly updates fell flat but there is always a New Year’s resolution to make. I’ll give that the old-used-bookstore try for 2013.

I’ve been working through the many boxes that have come into the store the past couple of months. But yet, isn’t that what I’m always doing? Very eclectic stuff. I’ve set aside books to post online. Mainly with Abebooks.com. I do have to come clean. At a recent Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers Association (VABA) meeting I got a scolding for mentioning that I boycott Amazon. WHY? they shouted. So I explained my reasoning and they informed me that I was being stupid because, unfortunately that is where they generally make the most sells. Rats! I shouted back. Mainly to myself. They told me it was easy so just do it. So I did. I posted one book.  That’s where the market is and even though I may not agree with that (in principle) that’s the way of the market. Sometimes being stubborn is not such a good thing. Another New Year’s resolution.

I had a couple of anniversaries recently. One year of moving to the Marble Works and six years of owning the business. And throw in a wedding anniversary, too. Hard to believe six years of Otter Creek Used Books. It has become such a part of my life and so enjoyable. I’m very happy here in the Marble Works, and happy to own such a business.

I actually had a reason to post today and I got away from that. This Thursday – 12/13/2012 – the store will be open for Middlebury’s Stag & Doe Night. Part of the Very Merry Middlebury December celebrations. The store will be open additional hours, 5-8 pm. I’m offering 10% off all purchases during those hours to add to the fun.

Now we just need some snow!

Busy Day Here In the Used Book Store

A quiet moment…been busy today. I’m learning about the new program I have for buying back textbooks. Yes, I buy used textbooks. It probably undignifies me in the glamorous world of antiquarian books but it helps me out through my slow months of April, May, and June. Once the weather starts warming after chilly winters Vermonters go outdoors and get their gardens ready, head up to Church Street (in Burlington) to people watch, or take to the hiking trails, go fishing. Anything to be outside and enjoy the warmer weather. Those months who feels like reading? Well, me but if I could I would also be outside. And it also helps to bring in college students to check out the store.

I didn’t mean to leave my last post up so long. I actually forgot about it. (yea, right!) Every day since I posted it I had the intention to change it but the store got busy. Today I had a conversation with a customer who mentioned the post which reminded me I had to change it. As soon as I had a moment. Here’s my moment. Late in the afternoon.

As I mentioned earlier it’s been about buying back textbooks today. I’m working with a new company as the previous was recently sold to Penntext.com. Their site is up but it’s going through revision. Should be live soon. Then one can type in an ISBN number and purchase textbooks online.  Lauren, the Remote Buyback Coordinator, was in the store for a meet and greet, and go over everything. We were even able to help a mother looking for her son’s  college books. Remember when you or your college kids are finished with the books bring them in and I’ll buy them back from you.  Cash on the spot. Actually a check but the bank is just a bit away. Then I’ll ship them to Lauren. Well, actually the company in PA.

Today I’ve also been trying to figure out a way to reconfigure the ‘front room’. Where the cash register is. I need a bigger table/counter. I think I’m going to take a door we have in  in our garage and make it into a countertop. I like that idea but now I’ve got to come up with an idea of what to lay the door on. Could make bookshelves from other doors. Oh, Rusty! What cha doing? Nothing? Oh, have I got a project for you!

Sorry for no photos. I can’t get my new laptop to recognize my cellphone. That’ll be tomorrow’s project.