Wednesday, November 23, 2022

My door is open to everyone.

Specialty bookstores are a bit of a mystery to me. 

Why limit your scope? Trust me, you're going to want as many customers as possible. There is no reason not to cater to as broad a scope of people as possible.

Here's the thing. You can still focus on one element of the store without dismissing the rest. 

I arrived at this conclusion through trial and error. Basically, the beginning core product of Pegasus Books--comics--could never generate enough business to pay the bills. So I was always forced to diversify. Pop culture toys and accoutrements, graphic novels, board games, card games, and so on. Not to mention products that we carried when they were hot--beanie babies, pogs, non-sports cards, etc. 

The trick was to add product lines without detracting from the existing product lines. It has always been music to my ears to hear customers of each category describe my store as that--comic people saying I'm a comic store, book people saying I'm a book store, etc. That means I've succeeded in broadening my scope without turning away the other possibilities. 

So to become a Science-fiction store, or Mystery store, or Horror store, a Children's store, the question becomes--are you going to attract more of the specific customer to cover the loss of every other possible customer!?

You don't have to go crazy. I've carved out every niche of fiction I can, even if it's just a shelf or two. I originally was going to skip non-fiction, but I manage to spring loose three bookcases and fill them with the best non-fiction I can find. It's enough. I've done this will a little over 1000 sq. ft., which is a modest size by any measure.

I cater to readers. That is,  I carry enough diversity that a reader is likely to find something they might like. I may not have a specific book they want--but I learned long ago that the chances of having an odd book are near zero, and would be even if I had ten times the inventory. (People seem to have no real concept of how many fricking books there are in the world!) 

But as long as I have a nice selection, there's a decent chance I can hook a reader. I see no reason not to have a nice selection in as many categories as I can do. 

My door is open to everyone.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Junk accumlates like dust bunnies under the bed.

The storage shed is going to be completed this weekend, which means I can start taking the boxes of used books out of the basement at the store. Apparently, the building's insurer expressed concerns about the amount of "paper" in the basement. They have no idea...

So I can at least ameliorate the problem. I doubt we can get fit all the boxes in the shed, but a hefty proportion of them. 

I cleared the basement of sports cards several years ago: just gave them away. Trust me, there was nothing valuable there. I sold off the 40,000 comics I had in the basement for pennies on the dollar. There was some value there, for anyone willing to put in the time and effort. 

Weirdly, the basement has refilled with comics, not only the 6000 comics I bought recently, but at least another 6000 or more that simply accumulated somehow, like dust bunnies under the bed. 

There is a lot of junk down there; old beatup toys, non-sports cards, used books, and comics. Broken or unused fixtures, the detritus of 40 years of putting it in the basement and forgetting about it. 

I'll probably make several trips to the dump with the worst of it, then have to make a decision about the rest of it. 

I had thought that I might start a used bookstore in Redmond, but that possibility seems to be receding. I certainly don't want to throw away the books I've accumulated, but I would be willing to sell someone the whole works for a very reasonable price: bookcases, fixtures, cash register, and used books, enough to get started. 

I guess I think someone some day will mention "wanting a bookstore" in my store and me ascertaining that it wouldn't be in Bend and making them a good deal. Someone could possibly earn a living off them for very little investment. The nucleus of a new life.

As far as I'm aware, there are no used bookstores in Redmond, Prineville, LaPine, Madras, or Burns. (There probably are, but I'm not aware.) It wouldn't be a lavish lifestyle, it may not be totally possible to do used books alone, but you'd be you're own boss.

I did it. I know it's possible, though not easy. I've never regretted it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Pardon me for preaching.

Jesus, the news is so depressing. We're going to lose, and the only thing we can do about it is try to protect ourselves. There may be a test ahead of us--do we stand up for what is right or stay silent? I'm tired of the outrage, the constant bad news, the murderers and liars and thieves. I cling to my idea of ethics even when I discover by talking to people that most them have no idea what I'm getting at. Bad behavior is celebrated while good behavior is mocked as naive. Villains are emboldened while the good are ignored. The rich and famous get away with everything they do while the poor and disenfranchised are ridiculed or punished. 

Was it ever so?

Probably. Not exactly a consolation. The dysfunction is now part of the system. Instead of laws and government alleviating the problems they seem to be slowly but surely used to enforce the dysfunction. Government doesn't work--and By God, we'll prove it!

Polarization is so deeply ingrained by now, re-enforced with every broadcast of right-wing media and protest of left-wing wingnuts, that there is no way to reach the other side. Instead we fall into the chasm of misunderstanding and hate.

The temptation is to withdraw. Obama can coax us not to give up, but the man has done his duty and is rich and famous enough not to really feel the sting of oppression. He's a good man, but he's preaching from a place of comfort and achievement. 

It is my fellow old white men who are the worse; followed closely by old white women. There seems to be no understanding or memory of when they were young and poor, or any realization that their struggle was nothing compared to those who aren't white or male. No understanding that no one is trying to minimize their efforts, but only to point out that others undeniably, indubitably, obviously have had it harder. No understanding that it isn't a zero sum game, that wealth could be distributed with kindness and generosity, instead of used only to taunt. I got mine, tough luck that you aren't as smart or hardworking or Godly as I. No understanding that if that were indeed true (it isn't) it is even more reason to help.

Can we pull ourselves away from the cliff? I don't think I'll live long enough to see it, but at this point, one of the tires is already spinning over the chasm, and the engine is racing. 

History continues, countries rise and fall, humans fail for the same old reasons, and succeed against all odds. It won't look the same, it may not be what we aspired to, but the struggle will continue forever.

Yes, this is a diatribe. Sorry, but it's how I'm feeling right now. Agree or disagree, it's totally up to you.