Today I’m grateful for ….
I live in an up and coming suburb. And yes that’s a note of sarcasm you detect there in my voice. In our downtown we have the river, along the river is a wonderful linear park, with walking trails, benches, water fountains, drinking fountains (including a few for dogs) a pool, a playground, soccer and baseball fields, woods, bridges, fountains, and lots of mutt mitts :}. (Humans must pick up the dog poop — nobody picks up the goose poop). Also along/near the river are the city offices, park district offices, and the downtown branch of the library.
After the lovely parklike riverwalk, and the city, park, and library facilities, we have the $HOPPING. A long time ago there used to be a number of charming, small, family oriented businesses. Of course, with the increase in population, the increase in foot traffic in the area, and other things, the small, charming, family oriented business gave way to the Major Chain Stores. Forget the little guys, and while all you people are here shopping let’s make sure you don’t support the local businesses, but make sure you go to the chains. One by one the locals are being driven out — but Chain$ willing to pay the increased rents that the landlords can charge are flocking like the Canadian Geese that won’t migrate further than the silly folks that feed them all year and then complain when they get agressive..
Yeah, it’s the same old song everywhere.
Most likely you’ve seen the movie You’ve Got Mail. Romantic comedy with Meg Ryan owing a small indy bookstore and Tom Hanks being the guy from Big Chain Bookstore. Around the same time that movie was released (a year or two either way), Barnes and Noble Bookseller built a flagship store in downtown Naperville. Smack dab on the corner of “almost everyone passes this way” and “just about everyone else turns here.” Two stories tall, comfy chairs, music department, coffee shop.
Meanwhile, a couple of blocks over Anderson’s Bookshop is still sitting there. No music department, no coffee shop, and not an overtowering presence on “all cars pass here.”
However, despite the presence of the mega chain, and the off main drag location of Anderson’s, Anderson’s Bookshop *IS* an overpowering presence in the world of books. Since moving here I (or members of my family) have gotten autographs from the following authors…
Lemony Snicket (actually, his stamp because although I’ve been to two “signings” unfortunate things happened to Mr. Snicket so he was unable to attend the events and Mr. Handler had to represent Mr. Snicket).
and some british chick named Rowling. (that was a LONG day surrounded by Jr. High age kids).
This is a small sampling of the authors they’ve brought into the area. I’m sure I’ve even met more, but this is all that can come to the top of my head while I’m sitting in my office with a headache. (I was looking the other day at some of the display signs they had autographed — Terkel, Paolini, Elizabeth Berg & Alice Hoffman, Brashares, Andrews Edwards — JK Rowling was there twice — Anderson’s had her through back when Philosopher’s Stone was some obscure British novel).
Saturday we had a birthday emergency type thing. Chip was invited to a birthday party Sunday which “we” forgot about (I never knew about it — Spouse never even opened the invitation until yesterday when friend’s dad called to find out why Chip had RSVPd but we hadn’t). So Saturday night (after a full day of work and going home and then making dinner) I had to run out with Chip to get a present for his friend. Now I knew there were plenty of places we could go to get something and I knew the “toy” selection at Anderson’s bookshop was small, but I also knew that there would be things that would interest a 10 year old boy and be within my budget. I also knew that after purchasing said gift I could get it gift wrapped, for FREE.
I’m sure, like any business, they care about the bottom line and making a buck here and there when and where they can. But they have this fascinating marketing approach for a bookseller. They READ books, they LOVE books, and they attract people (both from the buyers and sellers standpoint) that LOVE books.
Hey — it works.