This has been a tremendous week for the Flying Pig! Sales are way up, we have most of the books folks are looking for, and if we’re out of something, we are able to help folks regroup, and people are leaving the store happy with their purchases. As we head to the final days before Christmas, things have gotten hectic, harried, and fun and we’ve gotten unprecedented media coverage that has led to record-breaking sales.
- Let’s start with the huge news: The Wall Street Journal is featuring our store in a travel piece set to run on December 27 about how seven bookstores across the country are anchoring their city. We got this news late Thursday afternoon and Elizabeth smartly emailed press releases about it to all the local TV stations, two of whom came with crews on Friday morning. The pieces aired Friday night and Saturday saw a massive influx of new shoppers to the store. One mom said to her daughter, “Forget Barnes & Noble: we’ve found our new bookstore!” I’m not sure anything has made my retail heart soar more than that.
In a non-scientific survey of customers, about 60% of Saturday’s shoppers had never been to the store before. All signed up for our frequent buyers club and took copies of our newsletter. The best way to get new customers is wow them once they walk in and we seem to have done that, so it was a very busy weekend, full of great compliments and happy people.
- The other enormous news for the week was the Elizabeth’s book, Tap Tap Boom Boom, was selected by the New Public Library as one of the top 100 books of the year! It’s a great list and we couldn’t be happier for Elizabeth’s book to be included. This news was also a large part of our press coverage. I spent much of Saturday ringing our “we need register help bell” twice to indicate there was a book she needed to personalize. It was fun and great to see Elizabeth wearing her author hat at the store and making people’s holidays by being able to personalize books for customers. Even one of our shyer staffers got into ringing the bell twice for Elizabeth.
- One of our co-workers who just loves working the hustle and bustle of the holidays had to go to California to be with an ailing family member last Monday, so we were down one vital person until after the New Year. This is hard, but points up the family nature of the bookstore. It’s not about retail, it’s about heart and doing the right thing. We text her updates and of course she’s thrilled for us, but sad to missing such a fun week.
- Book deliveries are still a problem. One of our largest distributors continues to have what would normally be overnight shipments arrive two to three days later, which has forced us to adjust who we order from. We did get deliveries from Fed Ex on Saturday and UPS on Sunday, so clearly they’re working hard to clear the backlog from the storm a few weeks ago.
- I’ve noticed this year that people don’t seem as frantic as they have in years past. There is some flexibility with book choices and we are working hard to get creative about books and suggest things that someone would love, even if it’s not their first choice. I do love this part of the holiday: thinking outside the box and delighting someone with an unexpected choice that turns out to be perfect.
- Elizabeth has done a great job of bringing in some last-minute unique sidelines that are wowing folks. One in particular are the cards, prints, and hand mirrors of a local artist, Jess Polanshek, who Elizabeth blogged about in February. I am stunned at how quickly all of her work is selling. It is truly unique and I’m so happy people are responding to her art.
- As we head into the final days before Christmas and the last two days of Hanukkah, I feel like the marathon is almost over and I’m so pleased with how we’ve run the race thus far. And I’m really enjoying the appreciation of customers who are all being so gracious about telling us how much our store means to them.
Retailers, how was your week? Any surprising sales trends?