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Monday, November 21, 2011

10 Reasons Why

Saturday, November 26 has been designated Small Buisiness Saturday for shopping. The purpose of this is to encourage shoppers to patronize the indepedent shops in their community. While my take on this applies to the Indie bookstores struggling to stay solvent, many small businesses are losing ground to online ordering and mega-chain stores.

Sadly, when some business closes in my community, so many people say, "Oh, what a shame! I really loved that place." But I wonder, did they really? You don't ignore something you truly love. How often did they drive by it on their way to the chain store just to save a couple of dollars? When was the last time they patronized the store?

It occured to me that it really doesn't take that much on the part of the community who "loves" a place to keep it in business. How many local businesses would thrive if the community at large made the conscious decision to spend $20 a month at the stores they "love" instead of ordering online or going to the mall?

Sure, you may pay a little more at the indies and small businesses, but here are 10 reasons why it's worth it. (some of them are targeted specifically toward bookstores, but you'll get the gist)

1. Ask yourself: How often does my online store donate to my local school, charity, or fund raiser for a community member fighting a dibilitating disease?
2. When was the last time your online store posted your poster for your child's school play, band performance, or passed out fliers with pictures of your missing cat on them?
3. Next summer, when your teenager/college-age child can't find a job because there are no businesses hiring (or it's all been self-serve), think about how many teenagers your online store hires in your community.
4. That person helping you at that chain bookstore was probably selling lattes the day before. Do you really think he/she knows anything about your child/grandchild will love to read?
5. For every $100 spent in a community, a small business reinvests $68. Big box stores, $43.
6. How much tax revenue did Amazon generate for you community this past year?
7. Indie employees will be spending Thanksgiving at home with their families. For most, families are more important that the bottom line.
8. Personal service. Need I say more?
9.The people who own and work in small businesses are your friends and neighbors. Keep them employed.
10. When you call a small business with a question, you get a REAL person who actually works in the store.

Take some time and patronize those businesses you would hate to see go. Make it a wonderful holiday season for yourself and your community. Shop local.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Life in a Bookstore

     Almost every week that I've worked at the Blue Marble (8 years now), I've had a customer come in and tell me that "it's their dream to own/work at a bookstore someday." I smile and nod.
     They go on to say, "It must be great being surrounded by all these books and getting the chance to read them whenever you want." I smile and nod, again.
     Why do I do just this? Because telling the truth would not convince them otherwise. They really believe this is the life a bookstore owner/employee -- especially the small, indie kind.
     But the truth is, in 8 years I've read one book inside the walls of this store. That's right. One. And it wasn't even a full book, just the last three chapters of a EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS (and then I had to try to pull myself together in case customer came in).
     Most bookstore people don't read in store. (Nor do librarians.)
     I do read. At home. The pile of books on my dining room table, my nightstand, and in my car can attest to that. And while I end up loving so many of those books, I rarely look at those ever-growing piles with affection. They are constant reminders of how much work I have to do.
     Some books stay on my pile for a long time. For instance, I finally got around to Life of Pi. It got moved up because my son was reading for his AP English class and wanted to talk about it. When a book is read is really dependent on why I need to read it: One of my favorite authors. A friend's book. The author is visiting the store. I just won a major award.
     It's all part of the job. And it's a valuable part of what I do. When a customer comes in and asks, "I've been hearing about this book, have you read it or do you know anything about it?", I can smile and nod.