Meet Bookshop Santa Cruz! Thank you to Casey, store owner, and the amazing staff for taking the time to answer some questions about the store and for the awesome pics! YAY! Bookshop Santa Cruz!
What trend do you see in your indie business that you’re excited about?
A few years ago, people said that print was dead. We were facing the recession plus the threat of e-reading. Now, print is back and people are embracing paper books. It is exciting to see people wanting to hold a book in their hands and supporting the local businesses that allow them to be able to browse books in person.
What’s the best advice you can share that will apply to everyone?
Sometimes when you look at your competition, you want to match them (or think you need to in order to survive). For us, we thought we might need to heavily discount or everyone would buy their books at online competitors. However, what we learned is that we could offer something totally different than what our online competitors could do. We offered people a space to browse, knowledgeable staff, a community center and a meaningful experience around books. Sticking to our strengths was a much better game plan than trying to discount our prices and drive our margin into the ground.
What’s something you feel people should do more of?
People should try to identify what makes their employees tick and then give them an opportunity to follow their passion.
What’s something in your business you’re glad DIDN’T work out as you hoped?
A number of years ago, we wanted to downsize and I was looking for subtenants. Then we pulled out of the recession, our main competition down the street closed down and our business expanded greatly. I am so glad we didn’t give up that space. There are also a million things we decide not to do either because of time or resource constraints. Sometimes I think that saying no to opportunities is just as important (if not more important) than the things we say yes to. That way we don’t stray from our mission.
What’s the most recent kind gesture you received from someone you didn’t know?
Just today a teacher got in touch with us to tell us about a boy who had won an honor in a Young Writer’s Contest that we sponsor. She said he wasn’t doing well in school and was getting in trouble a lot. After he entered and won, his approach to school had completely turned around. He was engaged and confident. When asked why he is doing better, he said, “Because I am a published author.” She didn’t need to take the time to let us know this story but it is something we will cherish forever.
What’s been one of the most pleasant experiences of running your business/your job?
Helping customers find just the right book for them. Books can change lives so every customer interaction has the potential to have great meaning. It is what keeps us going each and every day.
What successful choices have you made in your business that others should consider doing?
The most important thing we have done in our business was to realize that our fate is completely tied to the strength of our community. If we nurtured our community through partnerships, local donations, co-sponsorship of events, highlighting local talent, reaching out to local authors, etc., our community would be engaged with the store. Time and again, through natural disasters, economic recessions and mega-competition, our community has stood by us. We never forget that.
What makes you say YAY!?