Monday, March 21, 2011

The End of The Mockingbird....

To borrow a line from my good friend J. Travis Grundon's blog - They Killed a Mockingbird...

As many of you know, the past six months I've enjoyed my 'home away from home' at The Mockingbird Book Emporium. I've loved cataloging each and every book; helping customers find their favorites; talking to local authors; and best of all, uninterrupted writing/reading/internet time!

It's been a dream of mine for several years to own my own bookstore, or at least work in one, so when my good friends BC Brown and J. Travis Grundon announced the timing was right, the money was available, and they were set to open one, I eagerly answered the call for help in any way possible. I sacrificed sales during my 'promotion period'; people saw my set up and assumed I was simply advertising the store, not selling books. But it was okay; people were picking up my cards and writing the name and location of the store on the back. BC and I made a trip north to my storage unit and I not only enjoyed a wonderful lunch with her and another one of my best friends, but brought back thirty boxes of books to peruse and catalog.

Early response was wonderful. But then issues cropped up.
-My SU objected to the time I was spending at the store, instead of being at home to supervise the youngling's homework, or doing things with him. He even made appointments during my shift, causing me to call other volunteers in to cover, or to put a sign on the door saying 'Back in an hour.'

-BC herself was involved in a six car pileup, causing her to not only miss six weeks from her primary job, but putting extra stress on her business partner to cover her sudden loss of income.

-At Christmas, we discovered our 'prime location' wasn't so prime. During the much-hyped "Santa Stroll', in which the three of us, plus three other local authors were the Grand Marshals of the parade, our tiny store hardly had any customers. Main Street was wall-to-wall people, but if you turned the corner, crickets were chirping. That was really discouraging.

-Bad weather during January and February caused us to stay closed; I certainly was in not mood to risk injury to myself or my car, and 'sane' people would stay safe and warm inside their own homes, so we only opened on clear days. I was thankful to get out of the house for a while, and we did a small amount of sales.

As BC puts it:
"But the fanfare quickly died away, the shine wearing off in as little as the first month in operation. After nearly 4 months of dwindling sales, sometimes full weeks going by without so much as a single customer, we kept hearing "This is just what this town needs!" and "Finally! A bookstore. I'll be back when I have a moment to actually browse." But those moments never came - no one's schedule magically opened up to reveal extra time to let them come in and support "what this town needs". And, while we did have a few very loyal customers, and cherish them more than anything, the lack of enthusiasm or even flat interest from the rest of the populace was overwhelming.

This said, many can understand how mine and Trav's own enthusiasm for the store began to wane. How the fire we had turned to ember. But we continued to fan those ember's hoping for some sort of phoenix to rise from the quickly accumulating ash. But, as the weeks progressed and our frustration for the lack of support of a town that can house so many bars, fast food restaurants, and tattoo parlors but can't manage to support one small used bookstore, we learned a valuable lesson."

And the past two weeks, we've had more 1st-time customers, who expressed their displeasure we were closing. This, despite flyers, front page news articles, and numerous radio interviews with BC. Two customers came in Saturday, as I was packing up books, and asked if we were just opening. When I explained it was our last day in business, their jaws dropped. My first thought was, "Where were you six months ago?"

So the store is closed; the mockingbird is dead. I'm back to writing at home, and driving my as-of-now-retired husband (he filed the papers today) crazy, due to my 'other job' involves answering email, writing, promoting other authors on this blog, promoting my own work on loops, and oh yes, keeping up with the laundry, the grocery shopping, the cooking, and whatever else is in the 'Mommy' part of my job description, ha ha:)

I am currently taking a much needed 'vacation' kids are on Spring Break, so we've left the SU at home by himself, and spending time with my dad. My mom is in Vancouver with my sister and hosting 'Camp Grandma' for my niece and nephew, who get TWO weeks of Spring Break!

Tomorrow, author Avah LaReaux will be here, and I'll check in periodically. I don't know if I'll post again until Friday, so enjoy your 'holiday' from my March Madness rambling:) And head over to Kenzie's blog, as she talks about her biggest writing challenges.


Amber Skyze said...

Sorry to hear about the Mockingbird. My dream is a bookstore like that too. Sad.

Harlie Reader said...

My small town didn't support the used bookstore at all. When it closed people were appalled and thought, where were you? They have since re-opened and I still swap and shop there. I love shops like that.