Saturday, July 26, 2008

A growing town = a chance for reinvention.

It's probably just part of the perils of blogging, but I find myself blogging about things before the circumstances have really played out. Then something happens that completely contradicts what I was saying.

I was all ready, for instance, to talk about how slow the second half of the month has been, and I had a whole theory prepared about how that meant the tourists weren't coming and I was seeing locals' paychecks stretched and blah, blah,blah.

I also had a blog yesterday where I talked about how few books -- relatively speaking -- I'd sold at $ .50 and $ 1.00 during the Krazy Days sale, how the public wasn't interested, and how I might have been better off just selling books at regular price.

And then, yesterday, I had sales that were nearly three times my average, brought my second half of the month right back up to the levels I was doing in the first half of the month, and has got me.... wondering....what's going on? There were people all over the place, yesterday. (Without the streets being closed, I might add...)

I also sold several hundred books, and had my best book-selling day ever. Books are now firmly my second best-selling product, which absolutely astounds me.

See, despite the logic of business being bad; I mean, it seems to me that business SHOULD be bad; well... it isn't. At least not so far.

(I'm going to interject a strange note here: I firmly believe, based on the evidence, that Bend is in for some rough times, which means my store is in for some rough times. I think logic dictates that, and I've found that 90% of the time, when the reasoning side of my brain cries danger that I should pay attention. I can't imagine that we're going to weather this without damage.) And with that, I continue with my coyote side.

I've been taking it slow and easy on ordering new books. But they continue to show strength.

I guess I'm leery of being sucked into another big investment, only to see it fade. But then again, books aren't exactly a fad. Seems like a pretty solid business, to me, right about now. I think I'm in the honeymoon phase.

I've got the huge luxury of not having to depend on books for my bottom line. And an even bigger luxury in that profits on used books are fantastic. They seem to have smoothed out the slow days. In fact, it appears that I've had a downturn in most of the product I was carrying last year at this time, but new games and new books have compensated.

Comics and graphic novels are still my bread and butter, doing from 3 to 5 times as much as books.

Still, for the first time, I'm wondering if I might not be able to have my cake and eat it too. You know, be a full bookstore and a full comic shop and still have all the other sidelines as well.

As usual, the biggest problem is space.

It's probably simply not possible to carry enough new books in the space I have available to be considered a full-line bookstore.

However.....I think... I believe, if I'm in tune with the culture at large, that I can make a small number of books seem larger.

If I carry all the Hunter S. Thompson books, for instance, and it just so happens a documentary about the Gonzo journalist comes out, then I look pretty good. If I keep doing that, keep guessing right, then the store will loom larger than it actually is. I'm such a huge reader, that I feel as though if anyone could do it, I could. I'm not going to be a Barnes and Noble, a Camalli or Paulina Springs or Sunriver Books. know what? I might be able to get close, especially if I specialize in fiction. So...that seems credible to me; a bookstore that specializes in fiction. As far as I'm concerned, graphic novels fit right into this mode. I sold 5 Watchmen, yesterday. That's a bunch. A huge amount for a book that's been around for a decade. And all to non-regular, non-comic buying customers. Cool.

We longtime residents, and local bloggers, tend to bitch about the growth of this town. About all the 'cali' newcomers; about the fact that everyone has lived here for 5 minutes.

But I think it allows an old business like mine to reinvent itself on a constant basis. I know the other Downtowners will probably never come around, (hell, they never came around in the first place) and many of the older residents will never check me out, but I have a chance to perform well and be rewarded by new residents, new tourists, new friends.

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