Tag Archives: independent bookshops

Shopsitter Janelle says Farewell

We’re running a bit behind on timing because of the author humiliation contest – more entries posted Friday! This is our first shopsitter of the summer’s farewell post, and Kelly, our second shopsitter will be sending a post next week. (BTW, if you’re interested in shopsitting, we are looking for a week in October and a couple of weeks in December.)

Sadly, our shopsitting visit is soon coming to an end already.

We are excited about the potential of our final day sitting the shop, and we are tickled to have company coming for lunch tomorrow, too…folks that moved from our home area near Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Chuckey, Tennessee, several years ago. We just now realized how near to them we are while here.

To be honest, this shopsitting gig has been far more like a vacation than work. We have come to feel far more like family than “hired” help. And we have done more reading and relaxing than we have work. The latter I understand, I think. If I were home I’d find plenty to do (I’m pretty sure I have weeds waiting for me in my yard, taller than I am) but no matter how much work I invent for myself to do here (like re-organizing book stacks or putting sections of books back into alphabetical order or sweeping the front porch or doing dishes or laundry) I’ve still been getting to read and visit with guests (and Facebook) more than I would if I were at home this week.

And as for relaxing vacation, I’m not completely sure what to make of that, but I think it’s the Wendy factor. She has told her local people to make us feel welcome, and they sure have. We have been included in invitations to dinner and swim aerobics and church and told where the local walking/running trail is numerous times…and been included in pretty much all else that has gone on while we have been here. We have eaten nearly every meal offered (that will need to be addressed when we get home, too!) and, when I think about it, taken up very few of the exercise offers presented us. But Wendy threw out on Facebook that we wanted to do some local hiking, and after all sorts of suggestions for where we should/could go, kind friend Destiny simply said she would come and lead us, and she and her son Jack did!

I learned a lot while we were here; there is no question. I go home no less eager to one day have my own bookstore, no less eager to have Natalie bake and maybe cook for me like Kelley does in the Second Story Cafe here. Wendy and Kelley make that all look like a very easy, symbiotic relationship, not a “tough” job at all.

Wendy does, indeed, make it all look enjoyable and easy…although I do fear that I’d find in my own shop lots to do instead of this relaxed “I could do that” style. We prevented Wendy’s work from getting done sometimes with plenty of conversations, several good meals, a mutual glass of wine or bottle of beer here or there. Sometimes I really wanted her to go “make stuff,” assured that we could manage things here, and when she did, that’s when I felt I was contributing the most.

Otherwise, let’s be honest: I’d far prefer to hear her conversation with a guest to the shop–the exchange of local chit-chat, or updates on pet adoptions or procedures, or discussion of a new book, or valuing of books brought in for trade. If she wasn’t really “gone” from the shop, it was too easy for her to step in and do those things, and I seized the opportunities, then, to learn from the master.

I’ve very much enjoyed this adventure with my two youngest daughters, watching them melt kitten hearts and make new friends, devour books (Natalie stayed up until 2:40AM Saturday night…err, Sunday morning… finishing Water For Elephants, which she had started only the night before. It’s one of my all-time favorite books! How can I be upset with that activity?!) And I loved us getting to see, together, parts of the country we had not previously visited. Delaney’s determination to be THE one to get to “do the Square” any time a customer paid with a card or to be the one to take their cash, for that matter, showed me she has those super original cashier skills, communicating clearly and doing math in her head to make change (rather than NEED a cash register to do it for her). We go home with a new bond of mutual adventure and with many memories to share.

It’s like reading a book with someone, only better. The girls and I have shared a tremendous adventure, and I can only imagine how soon we’ll all talk about coming back! I imagine it will come up in the thirteen-hour ride home.Janelle on porch
Thanks for your hospitality, all. We have had a great time!

 

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, crafting, Downton Abbey, humor, Life reflections, publishing, reading, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized

Afterwords Bookstore Speaks….

This might be one of the sweetest press releases ever!  Jack and I head off Tuesday to speak at Afterwords Books.

Turning Retail Stores Into Community Resources
Bookstore Owners Lead Discussion for Local Business Owners at Special Event in Edwardsville

EDWARDSVILLE, ILL. October 11, 2013 – How can locally-owned businesses stay at the top of shoppers’ minds in a world dominated by big box stores and online retailers? On October 22, 2013, two family-run bookstore owners – one from Edwardsville, Ill. and one from Big Stone Gap, Va. – will share their stories how they transformed their stores into community hubs in order to drive sales.

Like many locally-owned retailers, LuAnn Locke of Afterwords Bookstore in Edwardsville faced an uphill battle in encouraging residents to shop local. As a bookstore owner, it was even more challenging with the proliferation of e-readers in the market. On the verge of closing shop, Locke connected with Wendy Welch, owner of Tales of the Lonesome Pine bookstore in Virginia and author of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap. Through her experience and buoyed by the lessons of Welch, Locke transformed Afterwords into a community resource for book lovers and was able to stay in business.

On October 22, Welch and Locke will join together at Afterwords to lead a discussion on how local businesses can be more than retail stores – they can be gathering spots that encourage community interaction to help boost sales. Welch and Locke will share best practices, grassroots marketing efforts and in-store programs that helped their businesses survive in a competitive marketplace.

Said Locke, “Welch’s book was instrumental in our decision to keep fighting the good fight – to continue to believe in Afterwords Books and what it means to our community. She has inspired to me to make the store a place where book lovers can connect over their shared interests and boost interest in reading throughout the region.”

Small business owners and the public alike are welcome to join in the discussion, starting at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and a 20 percent discount will be offered on all book club selections. Afterwords Books is located at 232 Buchanan Street in Edwardsville, Ill. For more information about Afterwords or its upcoming events, visit www.afterwordsusedbooks.com or call 618-655-0355.

About Afterwords Books: Afterwords Books is a family owned and operated bookstore in Edwardsville, Ill. Afterwords offers customers both new and used books, a trade for credit program, free children’s story times, book clubs for all ages, a monthly documentary club, educational toys, and unique gifts crafted from local artisans. As a locally-owned store dedicated to the community, Afterwords is committed to serving as a community resource and gathering place for fans of the written word. For more information, visit www.afterwordsusedbooks.com.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, publishing, shopsitting, small town USA, VA, writing