Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why Afterwords Isn't Celebrating Borders Demise

The announcement that the Edwardsville Borders store would be closing along with others nationwide, left both Afterwords and the community dismayed.   Several customers have deemed the closing of Borders a golden opportunity for our cozy little bookstore to profit above and beyond.  I suppose if we were in this business to make loads of money we might share that line of thinking.

When I was given the opportunity to purchase Afterwords Bookstore, I did so because I have had a life-long love affair with books and owning this tiny bookstore is a dream come true.  As a hopeless romantic I didn't give much thought to how much money I would make, however, I did have to curb my enthusiasm long enough to consider if Afterwords was indeed a viable business venture.  I wanted to assure our investors that yes, we would sell enough books to pay the rent, utilities,  insurance and the like.  I took Rebekah Shelton's model,  creating an inviting atmosphere and welcoming customers to browse without pressure to buy- to grab a cup of coffee nearby and settle into a comfy chair and stay a while, and ran with it.  We, like all successful independent bookstores, understand that we have to offer our customers more than just books and we strive to be an active and important part of the community.  We serve as a gathering place, a Saturday morning tradition--we are our customer's store.

Never, at any point of deliberation, did I consider Borders as direct competition to Afterwords as our inventory is predominantly used books and the loyal client base that I was fortunate enough to inherit continues to  visit our store for a decidedly different experience than that of Borders.  A more intimate experience if you will, one where the staff of our store recognizes our customers as our neighbors first and foremost and goes the extra mile by building a relationship with each customer, making note of their favorite authors or titles that they have their heart set on owning.  There's nothing like the genuine appreciation that comes from someone who recognizes that we will do everything in our power to go above and beyond.  Our trade for credit program continues to be quite successful with upwards of 300 titles coming in our doors any given week.  Loyal customers have always been willing to wait the few extra days required for us to order and receive new titles.  Picking up that new book at Borders or Amazon, for that matter, just did not occur to them.  Those customers celebrate what Afterwords means to their community and offer their support accordingly.   We are very grateful for that consideration!

As the new owner of Afterwords, I often have to pinch myself- to remind myself that this is my job.  We are having a blast getting to know each one of you and hope that the little extra touches, complimentary treats, free goodies, one of a kind gifts, loads of giveaway books, Saturday story hour, and pretty gift wrapping free of charge, begin to express how appreciative we are to have such a wonderful and diverse clientele.

There has been much discussion as to why Borders has been forced to close, leaving some 10,000 people without jobs.  The consensus seems to be that Amazon and the development of the Kindle and the Nook ultimately destroyed Borders.  I will go on record, once again, as saying that I believe there are enough hopeless romantics like myself, true aficionados, who will continue to desire the experience that comes with browsing a bookstore, discussing books with other book lovers, curling up with and getting lost in a great book with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, the feel, scent, experience of reading a book.

I really enjoyed this article and would encourage you to read it and share your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Made in the Shade and Taking the Wheel

We trust that all had a safe and happy 4th of July celebration.  For many of us, summer promises or holds fond memories of road trips full of fun and adventure, which inspired last week's promotions and Saturday's story time fare.

We're making sure all our customers have it made in the shade by offering FREE sunglasses with any purchase between now and then end of July (or at least until supplies last!).  We're also currently running a promotion on our super fun MELISSA & DOUG puppets, purchase one puppet and receive a second MELISSA & DOUG item at 50% off!  We have some really great boredom buster MELISSA & DOUG items that promise to subdue the incessant "are we there yet" inquiries.  Perfect for travel, free of little pieces that tend to get lost in the backseat sea of juice boxes and pretzels, we have stocked Hangman, Magnetic Games,  Picture Makers, and Play Sets as well as some packing friendly and fun classic card games.

Saturday's story time featured the always funny Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems, poor pigeon dreams of driving the bus but the bus driver has asked that we please don't let the pigeon take the wheel, no matter what.  We also shared a super fun picture book by Leo Timmers, Who is Driving?.  The kids loved the super bright and fun illustrations of various animals dressed in ways that suggested what vehicle they might be driving and guessing who would be revealed on the next page behind the wheel.  We also read about the silly misadventures of Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw and finished up with a rousing rendition of Wheels on the Bus by Raffi.  Special thanks to Gabby (and to the parents for not fleeing the store) for once again drowning out my less than impressive yodeling with her magnificent guitar playing and to Puck for his awesome sound effects and leading the children to use their hands to swish swish swish the wipers and beep beep beep the horn.  Haven't visited our story time yet?  Please join us on Saturdays at 11am!

As always, special thanks to our customers who keep our shelves stocked with all the great books they bring in to trade for credit.  We offer 20% of the original list price of the book for store credit and consider most books with the exception of romance, textbooks, self-help and parenting.  Need a quick pick me up after returning to the salt mines following this long holiday weekend?  We've still got hundreds of FREE titles that are keeping our sidewalk bins replenished, a cart full of .25 paperbacks and .50 hardcovers, and Tuesday and Thursday promises a freshly baked and complimentary treat!