Friday, September 5, 2014

Try to remember, the kind of September...

September has always been a melancholy month for me.  Sweetly melancholy, if there is such a thing.

I try not to let it take too deep a hold.  Dangerous that.

It's strange to see such diminished traffic in town.  Refreshing too.  But I can go on my nature walks now and not be surrounded by tourists.

What I always think at the store is, "I can't wait until summer/holidays are here."  And then when I'm in the middle, I think, "I can't wait until summer/holidays are over..."

Thing to remember, though, is that without summer and Christmas, Pegasus Books just wouldn't be viable.   I always say, "I make money 4 months out of the year, I lose money 4 months out of the year, and if I'm lucky, I break even 4 months out of the year."

There is an interesting article about restaurants today in the Bulletin where one of the owners says this:

"In the summertime, it's great.  But it's a 365-day business, so you can't be busy 90 days and make it through 365 very profitably."

Maybe all my meanderings are floating through the Zeitgeist.  There's another quote from a new restaurant in Bend who pretty much says what I've always advised:

"...she... realized one of the keys in Bend is starting small and making an appropriately sized initial investment....I think it's hard to make it in this town."

I believe that people who move to Bend to open businesses simply don't get how extreme the difference is between what they saw in the summer while visiting and the dismaying loneliness of a cold, wintry day in late February.

Meanwhile, there's a bookstore opening in a small town in Illinois that described itself thus:

Abet Books "will carry new and used books from children's tales to novels, as well as board games and comic books. The board games won't just be classic family titles, but 'niche European board games' that Nissen hopes to introduce customers to." (Shelf Awareness)

That sounds pretty familiar as a business plan... (almost makes me wonder if they visited my store.)  Or, like I said, maybe it's just the Zeitgeist.


Anyway, having these melancholy thoughts.

In my past writing career, fall was also the most productive writing time, which I think came from starting school in September for 18 out of my first 28 years.  I used to not be able to write in summer and holidays.

These last two years, I've overridden those impulses.  Writing all the time.

Haven't heard from my publisher, and I'm wondering now what I thought was going to happen.  Of course it's going to take time.  The first books were accepted quickly once the decision was made but there had been almost a year leadup to that point.

I'm thinking my publisher has gotten busy doing other things.

The book is ready to go, whatever else happens.

I think I'm feeling stymied.  The necessities of the real world are blocking my free expression, man.  I'm waiting for publishers, editors, artists...


Meanwhile, in a time of changes, I've started a diet -- not for health or looks reasons, but because I have a whole closet full of cloths that fit a little too tightly, and if I lose 10 or 15 pounds will fit quite nicely.  I seem that have a pretty strong will when it comes to doing this, though I let it creep back over a couple of years.   ("I can quit smoking...I've done it hundreds of times...)

Been concentrating on Linda's store, which needed a little bit of kick.  Which is what I enjoy doing.  I'm investing in book CD's, and just generally spending more time there rearranging and filing.  I think we're already seeing some results.

It gets me out of the house and around people, and yet doesn't disrupt my writing.  I could work at Pegasus Books instead, but I feel like I get underfoot and it also gets a little intense, blowing away my writing mood.  Besides, my guys are doing such a great job that I don't like interfering.

I'm not letting the melancholy take over.  I'm making sure I do all the things that drive the melancholy away.  Because it can be a pretty severe drop from a little melancholy to worse.


Kathy said...

The comment in the newspaper (I still read it in print format, along with all the other creakingly ancient old timers) about '365 days a year of rent & overhead, but only 90 days of (tourist) customers' made me think of Ashland, which has this problem in spades. As longtime OSF fans and annual attendees, we watch the waxing and waning of new shops and especially, restaurants, there with interest and frequently, dismay.

It is sad to see Bend transforming into another Ashland or -- Sun Valley or Aspen. The trend has been there for a while, but it is obviously ramping up again. The transition from Tourist Town! to Back to the Locals is more abrupt and noticeable every year.

Ashland has tried to address the shocking difference in a few ways, as the Shakespeare Festival has expanded its season to include early spring and early fall. But the businesses still shiver and suffer through the non prime summer months.

Bend does have ski season, which helps a lot. But a look at some of the closures points to the vast difference between winter busy and summer busy.

Don and I rarely go downtown anymore because it's mostly trendy restaurants and foo foo shops (not Pegasus!). And so-called 'festivals' -- I call them Pestivals. You know, WinterPest, OctoberPest, SummerPest. But I know your feelings about these increasingly frequent closures of the entire downtown area, the noise, the traffic nightmare, the lack of custom for most DT businesses. And the inevitable nights requiring the use of earplugs for sleeping, to keep out the noise, oh, I mean, music echoing through the air for miles around.

I definitely feel signs of curmudgeonry seeping through my body, and I attempt to combat it by focusing on all the good things that have come with growth and increased population. Our own businesses benefit too. But it is sad to see wonderful, creative places like Baked and Alpenglow bowing out, and more unknown, untested businesses moving in. Most of them to show up on your 'Closed' list within a year or two.


Duncan McGeary said...

I think we need a new slogan.

"Keep Bend Funky."

But it's too late.

Duncan McGeary said...

Yeah, the irony is that my store is doing better than it's ever done and it due mostly to the growth and tourism...