Monday, January 9, 2012

We Couldn't be Happier!

Like everyone else, I am surprised to see that 2012 has arrived. In retail, October through December are a blur, and while those months, and those sales are so important, I enjoy the rhythms of the remaining months much better.

With the growth of internet sales and e-readers, more and more people ask how we're doing. My favorite question has been "I know so many people who got Kindles. What will you do?" Well, I didn't know I was expected to do anything. I hear that someone even chastised Kindles buyers on Facebook, saying they were affecting my business. While I appreciate the shout out of support, I am hoping that post does not begin a flurry of unfounded speculation.

The fact is, we had a great 2011, and are looking forward to 2012 and many years beyond. Of course, the foundation of our stability is our customers, who for 15 years keep opening our doors, often to buy books, and sometime just to stop in to say "Hello." Either way, we are grateful, and happy to be the kind of shop where we know people's names, their kids' and pets' names, as well as preferred book genre and coffee drink.

Terri, Debbie, Matt (and always in our hearts - Jenny, Brendo, Jacque, and Emily) bring loyalty, kindness, and knowledge to work with them, and have never ever suggested that the meagre wages, and varied responsibilities of a bookstore employee just don't cut it for them. Chris keeps our computers running smoothly, and his patience has helped me overcome tons of keyboard phobia. It is hard for me to think of myself as their employer. When we first opened, my accountant and business consultant warned me against hiring friends, but that philosophy hasn't been comfortable or successful for me. Maybe I just have nicer, more reliable friends that other employers!

Realistically, I understand that the publishing industry is changing. I am keeping an eye on those changes, and making subtle adjustments. Stats from professional bookselling organizations tell us that 80% of the books sold nationwide are still traditional paper copies. My guess is that percentage is higher in Manitowoc. When we first opened, 15 years ago, I learned early never to become too over-confident, or too smug. There was a gift shop next to us that had constant traffic. Traffic I envied. But, one Sunday, the owner closed its doors in the middle of the day, never to return...leaving inventory to the bank. We were sad to see it go, but it was a lesson I took to heart, and have not taken my eye off our business for a single day since then.

So, that's a sort of "State of the Store" report for you. I look forward to 2012...meeting new people, staying in touch with others, and opening boxes and boxes of books as they arrive at our back door.

*****What am I reading? I'm in swashbuckling mode...just finished The Man in the Iron Mask and decided to backtrack and read The Three Musketeers. After that, if I haven't burnt out...perhaps Kidnapped or Treasure Island.

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