Friday, May 27, 2011

How about being a bookstore?

There is another description on Shelf Awareness of a store asking for "help." And once again, it is the kind of store that apparently does everything:

"...he asked customers to help buy "as many of your books, CDs and DVDs from Outwrite as possible"; buy e-books from the store online; visit the coffeehouse; use the coffeehouse lounge for free for meetings of companies, businesses or organizations; volunteer to help the store in web design, bookkeeping, finance, banking, retail management, retail sales, collections and legal services; and tell others about the store."

Holy Cow. How about running a, you know, bookstore? That's something a single human CAN DO!

In my opinion, it's these NEW kinds of stores that are failing because they are trying to mimic the online and big box aspects without having the same cost structures.

For instance, when a national chain buys or leases a plot of land on the outskirts of town and creates 100's of thousands of sq. ft., the cost of planning for a few thousand sq. ft. for tables and chairs is relatively cheap.

However, if you are an independent bookstore, chances are you are renting or buying an existing space -- and that that space is much smaller. The cost of the per sq. ft. space you are using for tables and chairs is much much higher under that scenario.

If you have a big box, you can have a full-time web designer, legal help, bookkeeping, etc. etc.

If you are small independent, you best figure you are going to do more of that yourself.

The percentage of the total sales that go into these extra services is huge for a small store compared to a big store. For instance, and accountant is going to cost a minimum whether you have a store that is doing 500.00 a day or a store that is doing 10,000.00 a day.

And yet, it is these very types of stores that are constantly used as examples that we should be following.

My guess is that most viable stores are focused on selling books; with some extra's in service and labor, whatever can be afforded. I would submit that a decent book-bookstore has a chance of surviving, as long as they don't get too far ahead of themselves.

What always amazes me about these bookstore "call for help"s is how little it usually is about the books.

Everything but books, it seems like.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find this discourse amusing. Your shop doesn't have enough space to stand let alone loiter. So what's the point of the discussion?

I think that a certain person likes the 'powells' model of tons of old books, and an easy coffee shop you can take the book and sit all day and leave without paying a dime except the coffee which of course the money goes to another party.

Then there is the 'starbuck' model, where its really not comfortable to stay long, and they control ALL media, try to leave an alternative paper sometime in a starbuck and see how long it lasts, its corporate policy of starbuck to ONLY ALLOW MSM in its stores, so as to NOT offend anyone, or beast.

Then there is the dirty couch model, like in Bend of years past which is now the cheap noodle shop, near USBANK downtown. Big place very comfy, but never really had many customers.

I think we all concur that BOOKS, and COFFEE, and BEER all go together and are very relaxing, its also FUN to talk about books. The gal that has the little bookstore near RAY's up on 14th(west-side) sponsors books clubs for the area, which is quite interesting.

Your a niche DUNC, and you have your niche, your problem, is virtually nobody knows your there, like we know I think most people know about your wife's shop, but who would know about a little stored crammed to the ceiling on BOUTIQUE-ROW? Actually I think your store is a little imposing, kind of scary for children, like you might fear that all that shit would fall on you in an earthquake.

Maybe in time when BEND collapses, you can rent the NOODLE-SHOP space, and make it into a groovy place like POWELL's of yester-year, of course today POWELL's is BEND-FUCKED(tm), as the internet has destroyed their gravy-sales of yester-year.

I really think you need to do more MARKETING, maybe if all your loyal readers can be collective, we can brainstorm some CHEAP effective way for you to market your store.