We'd like to introduce you to one of our YAY! LiFE! retailers—Bookends and Beginnings in Evanston, Illinois. Make sure to stop by!
What do you do in your store to nurture your community culture?
We are constantly bringing people together in the store for readings, talks, book launches, and story times. We also partner with all kinds of community organizations: an organization that sends books to incarcerated women, for instance; an organization that makes sure African American kids have access to books with characters who look like the; an organization that helps immigrant girls acculturate to America; and one that raises money for college scholarships. We host school fundraisers, holiday shopping parties
What trend do you see in your indie business that you're excited about?
For many indie stores, there’s a big problem with “showrooming,” which is when customers take photos of books or other merchandise that they’re planning to order later online from someone else. But we’ve been noticing more and more “reverse-showrooming,” which is when the customer finds a book online or in a big box store and comes in saying, “I’d rather buy this from you.” It demonstrates that people think it’s worth investing in the small businesses in their own community.
What's the best advice you can share that will apply to everyone?
One thing I love about owning a small business is that we can always try out a new idea. If someone on staff says, “Maybe we should stay open later on Fridays,” or “What if we put together subscription gift boxes?” or “Let’s start a summer reading program that would be fun for kids to join,” there’s usually very little downside to trying it, and if it improves the business we adopt it as part of our practice, and if not we just move on to the next promising idea. In the corporate world, nothing is ever that straightforward!
What's been one of the most pleasant experiences of running your business?
Owning a bookstore is by far the most complex and demanding job I’ve ever done. It requires so much attention to small detail, and at the same time, so much long-term and strategic planning, and you do all that while simultaneously providing cheerful customer service to the people who are interrupting you while you’re trying to get it done. But there are two kinds of regular occurrences that have the power to make me forget all the stress and melt with happiness, and the first one is, when I see kids in our children’s section lying on the floor paging through a picture book--because I know that means we’re laying down the foundations for a lifetime of book-loving. And the second is when we’re hosting an author and have a rapt audience listening and asking questions--because that’s a real, intimate, human experience that no one can sell you online, and I know everyone in the room is feeling it with me.
What makes you say YAY!?
I think most days I get up in the morning thinking YAY! A NEW DAY! I’m almost always full of new ideas to try at the business, and in my head there are three or four more books I want to write, and the shelves at home are spilling over with cookbooks with new recipes I want to try, and the shelves at the store are full of wonderful books I haven’t read yet, and if the day could just be five or six hours longer, maybe I’d get to all of it, but I doubt it!