Thursday, January 26, 2017

On Supporting Small Local Business

I am giving a speech next Wednesday at the Women's Club here in town. Although I could sell my books after the program I have chosen to mention that my books are available for sale at the local indie bookstore in town. Blue Umbrella Books is my exclusive local bookseller. The store opened last summer and I have had author events there, participate in Ghost Stories LIVE! events every two months or so, attend multiple local author events and buy a lot of books. I also attend pop-up shop events there. Also, Artworks Westfield has been holding its monthly general meetings in the shop.I do everything in my power to support this small business because I am a member of this community

I ran down to Blue Umbrella this afternoon to check stock since I will be focusing on my NaNo novels that have been self-published, plus the recent OZMA Awards finalist novel. I told Jessica I am speaking next Wednesday and directing the ladies to the shop if they're interested in my books and want to purchase one. She seemed surprised that I would not sell them directly at the program and pocket the full amount. I said, "Well, that doesn't support your store, does it?" I then explained that I prefer to do it this way where we both earn a little money since I live here in town and she owns a business here in town. If everyone was just in it for themselves then businesses would be closing up again. Our downtown is undergoing a renaissance, a rebirth. Allowing her to keep a certain percentage of my book sales helps her bring in income so she can pay her bills and remain open. I feel every community should have a little bookstore like this where new and used books are sold and all sorts of interesting events are held in the open floor space that are designed and planned to draw people back downtown. It's a chance to experience that personal relationship between a shopkeeper and the community, something totally lacking in impersonal, convenient online shopping with your purchases dropped off at your doorstep. That sort of things kills small businesses.

I used to work in a store downtown and I loved meeting people, talking to them, listening to their stories, helping them find exactly what they needed, seeing them come back again and again. I learned their names. I knew the names of their kids and pets. I knew what they liked and didn't like. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of downtown and was sad to see so many businesses closing up. Then the store where I worked fell victim to big box stores and the convenience of online shopping. When a city's downtown dies, so does the heart of its community.

I am honored, excited, and thrilled to be a part of group of artists, literary artists, photographers, sculptors, mixed media artists, and other creative people who are motivated to bring art & culture back to Westfield as the downtown is reborn and revitalized.

If allowing a small business owner to retain 30% of my book sales helps her keep her store in business and gets my books out into the public, then I'm happy with that. If we don't give to our community then we get nothing back from it in return.

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