Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Armchair BEA: Networking In Real Life (Guest Post)

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Independent bookstores have always been my lifeline. The first thing I need to find when I move anywhere is the nearest indie. I went to school for four years in a town without one and I always felt a little untethered. I used to actually drive an hour and a half to Minneapolis to hang out at Birchbark Books when I was having a bad day. But I grew up just 20 minutes away from an amazing indie and so I've probably always been a little spoiled in that sense. My home bookstore is Beagle Books in Park Rapids, MN. I'm now incredibly lucky to work there (as well as at their seasonal sister store, Sister Wolf Books, in the summer). I get to be surrounded by people who like to read all the time, and you bookish people know how awesome that is.
If you are ever wondering about how to network in real life - I'd suggest going first to your closest indie (I know they aren't everywhere, but I've often found that the trip is worth it). No one works harder than independent bookstores to bring authors into town or to bring bookish people together.
So today, I'm excited to have the fabulous manager of Beagle Books, Jennifer, here today to talk about the role of the independent bookstore in the community.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So now that I've rambled on - here are Jen's words on the subject:

One of the best things about running an independent bookstore in a small town is the role the bookstore plays in the community. I first really understood this after launching a summer-long project called Stone Soup.  The project was inspired by Barbara Kingsolver (and family)'s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in which one family decides to commit to one year of eating locally. I decided I needed to learn what the resources were in my community for eating locally. I invited people to come to the bookstore twice a month to learn. Our teachers were what I called "local experts." I brought in someone to teach us how to make cheese, the owners of our local winery (wines made from fruits grown by the winery), someone to talk about hunting for wild mushrooms, some who harvest wild rice, and so on. We visited a local CSA farm twice - once at the beginning of the season, once at the end. At the end of the summer, we gathered together at a local park and treated ourselves to a feast - a potluck of local-only foods. While Stone Soup project only lasted for one summer, it created connections between the bookstore and members of the community. Now, four years later, people will come into the bookstore looking for local eggs and wanting to know about the farmer's markets and where they can get a varitey of local foods. (If you want more on finding local foods check www.localharvest.org for info in your own community). 

The bookstore I manage is also sort of a "box office." Community theaters, fundraisers, and all sorts of cultural community activities that require tickets can be purchased at the bookstore. This benefits the bookstore in several ways. The most obvious of course, is people come into the store that might not otherwise. Even if not a reader (weird, I know - but there are people out there like that), there's a chance we sell something that might interest the ticket buyer. Selling tickets also keeps in the loop of cultural events - from art shows to concerts to theatrical performances.

Despite having limited space, my bookstore has a piano in it. This means if a piano teacher is in need of space for a lesson, there is one available downtown. These activities - inviting the public into the store to share information (Stone Soup), selling tickets for events, and providing space for music lessons means a constant swirling of community members. Being a part of a community means knowing each other, and while sometimes in small towns it feels like our neighbors know a little too much, I want to live and work and be in a place where I can greet customers by name when coming in my door. I know that Ray is going to love the new nature book we got in. I can count on commiserating with Mike after a particularly bad loss by the Twins. I know children will walk through my door, make a beeline for my dog, and then head over to the kids table to hang out. These are the people, this is the life, and I'm intermingled with it all. What a blessing. 

12 comments:

  1. I just recently learned we have a very small indie bookstore nearby. I'm in the process of working with them. Yours sounds absolutely fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  2. My local indie is about 10 miles away but it's worth the trip. I'm on a first name basis with the owner and some of her staff and it's wonderful to know that your business is appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You're lucky to have a great indie bookstore near you! My nearest one is great, but they only do used books, so they're not as interested in hosting author events and such. I'll keep looking though :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a great example of how important a role networking can play not just in our blogs, but in real life. I'm so glad your events were a success & I'm glad you joined ABEA! Tattooed Books

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds AMAZING!!!!! I wish I lived where you do :'(

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for dropping by BookPics :D I forgot to say :D I'm glad I met you through ABEA too!
    Following-

    ReplyDelete
  7. I want that store in my town!! You guys are so freakin' lucky!! I love MN and the people up there are great! I wish my little town could support such a community HOME like your local bookstore has become. I'm in complete and utter AWE!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I don't have a local indie in my town - but yours sounds so inviting! Definitely a model to be followed.

    Tanya
    Girlxoxo.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm not sure if I even have a local indie in Edmonton.. Alberta... Canada. LOL, maybe I should search it up and see. I've been seeing many bloggers bonding with local indies, and I'm so jealous !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have 2! Check http://www.indiebound.org/indie-store-finder ;)

      Delete
  10. I'm our closest Indie, as far as I know, is over 2 hours away. It's a great bookstore, but a little far off.

    ReplyDelete

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Armchair BEA: Networking In Real Life (Guest Post)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Independent bookstores have always been my lifeline. The first thing I need to find when I move anywhere is the nearest indie. I went to school for four years in a town without one and I always felt a little untethered. I used to actually drive an hour and a half to Minneapolis to hang out at Birchbark Books when I was having a bad day. But I grew up just 20 minutes away from an amazing indie and so I've probably always been a little spoiled in that sense. My home bookstore is Beagle Books in Park Rapids, MN. I'm now incredibly lucky to work there (as well as at their seasonal sister store, Sister Wolf Books, in the summer). I get to be surrounded by people who like to read all the time, and you bookish people know how awesome that is.
If you are ever wondering about how to network in real life - I'd suggest going first to your closest indie (I know they aren't everywhere, but I've often found that the trip is worth it). No one works harder than independent bookstores to bring authors into town or to bring bookish people together.
So today, I'm excited to have the fabulous manager of Beagle Books, Jennifer, here today to talk about the role of the independent bookstore in the community.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So now that I've rambled on - here are Jen's words on the subject:

One of the best things about running an independent bookstore in a small town is the role the bookstore plays in the community. I first really understood this after launching a summer-long project called Stone Soup.  The project was inspired by Barbara Kingsolver (and family)'s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in which one family decides to commit to one year of eating locally. I decided I needed to learn what the resources were in my community for eating locally. I invited people to come to the bookstore twice a month to learn. Our teachers were what I called "local experts." I brought in someone to teach us how to make cheese, the owners of our local winery (wines made from fruits grown by the winery), someone to talk about hunting for wild mushrooms, some who harvest wild rice, and so on. We visited a local CSA farm twice - once at the beginning of the season, once at the end. At the end of the summer, we gathered together at a local park and treated ourselves to a feast - a potluck of local-only foods. While Stone Soup project only lasted for one summer, it created connections between the bookstore and members of the community. Now, four years later, people will come into the bookstore looking for local eggs and wanting to know about the farmer's markets and where they can get a varitey of local foods. (If you want more on finding local foods check www.localharvest.org for info in your own community). 

The bookstore I manage is also sort of a "box office." Community theaters, fundraisers, and all sorts of cultural community activities that require tickets can be purchased at the bookstore. This benefits the bookstore in several ways. The most obvious of course, is people come into the store that might not otherwise. Even if not a reader (weird, I know - but there are people out there like that), there's a chance we sell something that might interest the ticket buyer. Selling tickets also keeps in the loop of cultural events - from art shows to concerts to theatrical performances.

Despite having limited space, my bookstore has a piano in it. This means if a piano teacher is in need of space for a lesson, there is one available downtown. These activities - inviting the public into the store to share information (Stone Soup), selling tickets for events, and providing space for music lessons means a constant swirling of community members. Being a part of a community means knowing each other, and while sometimes in small towns it feels like our neighbors know a little too much, I want to live and work and be in a place where I can greet customers by name when coming in my door. I know that Ray is going to love the new nature book we got in. I can count on commiserating with Mike after a particularly bad loss by the Twins. I know children will walk through my door, make a beeline for my dog, and then head over to the kids table to hang out. These are the people, this is the life, and I'm intermingled with it all. What a blessing. 

12 comments:

  1. I just recently learned we have a very small indie bookstore nearby. I'm in the process of working with them. Yours sounds absolutely fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  2. My local indie is about 10 miles away but it's worth the trip. I'm on a first name basis with the owner and some of her staff and it's wonderful to know that your business is appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You're lucky to have a great indie bookstore near you! My nearest one is great, but they only do used books, so they're not as interested in hosting author events and such. I'll keep looking though :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a great example of how important a role networking can play not just in our blogs, but in real life. I'm so glad your events were a success & I'm glad you joined ABEA! Tattooed Books

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds AMAZING!!!!! I wish I lived where you do :'(

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for dropping by BookPics :D I forgot to say :D I'm glad I met you through ABEA too!
    Following-

    ReplyDelete
  7. I want that store in my town!! You guys are so freakin' lucky!! I love MN and the people up there are great! I wish my little town could support such a community HOME like your local bookstore has become. I'm in complete and utter AWE!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I don't have a local indie in my town - but yours sounds so inviting! Definitely a model to be followed.

    Tanya
    Girlxoxo.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm not sure if I even have a local indie in Edmonton.. Alberta... Canada. LOL, maybe I should search it up and see. I've been seeing many bloggers bonding with local indies, and I'm so jealous !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have 2! Check http://www.indiebound.org/indie-store-finder ;)

      Delete
  10. I'm our closest Indie, as far as I know, is over 2 hours away. It's a great bookstore, but a little far off.

    ReplyDelete