The thing that’s tickling my brain the most today, more than the story about Lean Management practices being used at hospitals and the fact that the toilets at work were all out of order this morning and we all had to use very fancy porta potties, is the idea mentioned in an interview that maybe the day of big bookstores has come and past and we’re heading back into a time of independent, locally run, small-scale bookstores.
It’s an interesting idea for me. I’m not going to delve into the whole crisis of print media vs the electronic medium or the downfall of independent bookstores to the large-scale chains, because that’s just not very interesting and I don’t feel like doing the research when most of us already know the basics there. But let me tell you something else that I’m sure you all already know: I get such a kick out of planning what I would do if I had my own bookstore.
So much fun! I’ve been pressing my nose up to empty storefronts for years saying “That would work just great!” This morning, after hearing this tidbit, I thought about the town where I live and the businesses and where a good location would be for a bookstore. There’s an abandoned Arby’s in a parking lot with several other businesses on a well-traveled road that wouldn’t be too bad.
Taking into consideration the structure of that building, I’d rip out all the current seating, obviously, and install curtains at all the windows around the dining area. The amount of light would be delightful, but the curtains would soften the building some. And then I’d put prisms in the windows so all day long, from some window, there’d be rainbows dancing around the store.
I’d have to check the state of the bathrooms and make them less “cheap fast food” and more “comfortable casual,” if you know what I mean. Like having a stack of cloth towels for drying hands and a big basket for the dirty towels.
The children’s area would be filled with beanbag chairs and shelves three feet tall and less. How awesome would it be to buy a store that had a playground attached? Awesome and terrifying and annoying. Cleaning that thing would be awful. But it’d give the kids something to do! Most likely, though, I’d direct people with children to the children’s bookstore down the way and around the corner.
I’d go to work in the morning and make bread and muffins and other things (in the already existing kitchen) and have them available with coffee and tea, all on real plates and cups.
I’d make tote bags and sell them in the store. I’d encourage local artists to hang and sell their artwork and goods (with a little commission to me).
I’d have a used books section. I’d have a cart of free books at the door.
The shelves would all be wooden and I’d spend about an hour every afternoon just dusting.
There’d be an open space left with comfortable chairs around it where people could come for readings or signings or after-hours yoga.
Our very well-trained dog would wander around the store and snuggle with people. There’d be signs everywhere saying “Our dog doesn’t eat people food. There are dog treats at the desk.”
And I’ve hardly even mentioned books, but BOOKS! I’d get to hang out with books all day long! Go to conferences about books, read magazines about what books to order, listen to sales pitches from people wanting to sell me books! And then go back to my wonderful store and spend the day with people who want to buy books and talking with them about books!
And I’ve talked and dreamed about all this before, full-well knowing that I have no idea how to run a business, and even if I did, the bookstore isn’t the most lucrative of dreams and it probably wouldn’t end up at all like I imagined. But on a day when I’ve spent the whole day looking at drawings and comparing it to technical documentation about a product that I care about very little, the idea of working with something that I LOVE, is more than a little appealing.