Jack blogs on the business matters of bookstore life
Since opening our bookstore we’ve kept a close eye on our sales from month to month. This was initially part of the process of calculating sales tax, but as we moved from year one to year two, we realized that comparing the same month in different years couldn’t hurt our planning. (We were business virgins when we started, but we have learned quickly.)
That, in turn, allowed us to see how we were building our customer base in succeeding years – until we hit a plateau around year three or four. We were comfortably aware that we had probably reached saturation point, in terms of our region’s ‘willing to drive to the bookstore’ market, but then things changed again after Little Bookstore was published.
To begin with its effect coincided with our usual pre- and post- Christmas peak (believe it or not January can be a good month for bookstores, as people spend their Christmas gift money). The Christmas Factor made it hard to separate the two. Traditionally, the period from late January through late March has always been very low. In fact we have come to expect a goodly handful of ‘cashless wonder’ days during this period, when people either use accumulated credit or bring boxes of books in for credit. We brace ourselves and eat more mac and cheese.
But, here we are heading for the end of February 2013 and we’ve continued to be almost as busy as during that seasonal Christmas peak. The explanation seems to be that the folk who have read Little Bookstore are intrigued enough to want to experience both the bookstore and Big Stone for real.
It’s becoming pretty easy to tell these nice folk as soon as they come into the shop, too! They have an expectant look about them; they smile at our cats and call them by name. They seek out ‘the rejection letter,’ and they just kind of hover in a satisfied way.
Once we twigged what was going on we would ask where they came from and discovered that our geographical footprint had grown. Quite a bit.
Funny though this may seem, as excited as I’d been about the book coming out, it had never occurred to me it would entice people to seek out our shop. But I’m certainly glad they are. Without exception, they’ve been nice people, pleasant visitors, appreciative of the town without a whiff of “how… quaint” to them. They’re good conversationalists. AND they’re buying books.
What more could a bookslinger ask for?