In the wake of the closure of the only bookstore in our town (I know, it’s Borders–it’s hard to be sad for the big chain, but I’m terribly sad about the loss of the family browsing experience–that part is a big deal), my family has been living a little fantasy over the dinner table.
We are enjoying the dream of opening our own bookstore in town. Granted, future generations will probably think the idea of spending an evening browsing around a store that sells any type of media is quaint and old-fashioned, but I for one am going to grasp on to it as long as I can. We have lost the record stores of old, and video stores and bookstores are in a crazy state of flux. At the moment, my town has none of these former Manseau family haunts. So…enter my family fantasy.
First off, we know the space soon-to-be-vacated by Borders is WAY too big for us, but there seem to be lots of smaller spaces around town that would fit the bill (READ: four digit rent figures instead of five…). We want intimate, a good spot to attract strolling folks, near food and beverages (remember my fond childhood memory of eating ice cream while looking at books?)–that’s not too much to ask, right? I’m sure there is just the perfect spot waiting for us downtown, and it probably has really reasonable rent too. This is my fantasy, so let me just go with that thought…
Anyway, we all agree we would have children’s fiction (a StorySnoops no-brainer!) and adult fiction. And all the other kinds of books too. But not as many of them because we do love our fiction in this house. My daughter is a rabid Harry Potter fan, so she has planned that there will be a Harry Potter table, and every day she will supply a “Harry Potter Fun Fact of the Day”. Something along the lines of “Did you know that Nearly Headless Nick’s last name is De Mimsy-Porpington?” Of course my son, not one to be outdone by his sister, offered to put up a Lord of the Rings table, with his own featured factoids, like “What birthday was Bilbo Baggins celebrating at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring?” (111th, in case you didn’t know). I feel my square footage inching up just a bit with that last one.
My husband is a music guy. And he always liked browsing in the now-defunct music stores. And he likes the retro stuff. Like LP’s. So we would need some LP’s in our store. I’m sure they wouldn’t take up too much room, right? And if we have music, it would be a natural fit to have some DVD’s too (or if we’re embracing the retro theme, does that mean we need to stock VHS? Ha!). Of course we’d probably have to sell a few turntables for those that don’t still have them lurking at home like I do.
In addition to the whole retro thing, we want to be forward thinkers so that our little family business doesn’t go under as the ebook phenomenon crashes over us. So we’ll also stock a good selection of e-Readers. And we want to offer the ebook option to our loyal customers when they come in to browse with their families and their ice cream cones. So we’ll need a kiosk or something along those lines where they can make an electronic purchase too if they feel so inclined.
Because we are a small business, we want to be connected to our community and add all of the extra goodness that we enjoy at independent book stores. We’ll need an open space to set up the chairs for Story Time and for the author talks and book signings. And all of the StorySnoops gang will work there so that we can talk to all of our customers about the books in an informed kind of way. Customers like that. I will need to talk to Shannon, Jen and Tiffany about what hourly rate they charge, and whether they require a 401(k) plan if they come to work at my store. I can really picture it all now, and this may be the only way I’ll ever get those floor-to-ceiling book shelves I’ve always dreamed of!
All in all, as I go back over the list that we’ve so carefully created at the dinner table this week, I’m thinking that in order to include all of these features, we might need a space the size of the one Borders is leaving afterall. Especially if we decide to add a coffee cart that also sells as many ice cream flavors as Baskin Robins. Hmmm. I’ll tell the kids to start saving their pennies now. If you have enough pennies to do this though, and would like a copy of our family business plan, let me know. I’ll send a copy on over.