Holiday Round-Up

Josie Leavitt - December 29, 2014

This is the last Monday recap for the year. The last week proved to be busy, fun, and creative. We saw more people come shopping than ever before. In speaking with other merchants in Shelburne, everyone reported sales were up this year over last year.
I think this is from the combination of factors, but the chief thing I attribute it to is the group advertising the shops in the village did together. mBuying ad time as a block of stores, rather than just one or two, helped build momentum for Shelburne stores. The beauty of my town is if someone comes for just one store, because of the ads they were made aware of the other stores and stayed in town longer for their shopping. People would come to our store with bags from other stores around town and that was a lovely sight.
Sales were through the roof the last few days before the holiday. Christmas Eve day was one of the busiest days of the year, and we closed at 4 PM! People streamed in from the minute we opened at 9:00 and until about 3:30. It was so busy that by the time I picked my head up I noticed it was just after noon. Never have three hours gone by so quickly.
Our shelves, bestsellers especially, were practically bare, forcing us to get creative and pay attention to books we actually had. This involved a constant checking and restocking from the back. We even resorted to calling some special-order customers whose books had been languishing for longer than three weeks to see if they still wanted/needed their books. We had a mom call in a panic about needing The Night Before Christmas which we were holding for someone. There was no time to get the book in before Christmas, as the book crisis occurred on Christmas Eve. We had another customer whose two copies of The Night Before Christmas had just come in the day before (she’d gotten three of this book already). I nervously called Harriet and asked if we could sell one of her books and replace it by New Year’s. Harriet asked who needed the book and we explained about the mom with the new baby and an older child who had forgotten to get a holiday book this year. Harriet graciously said, “Please give her the book and order me a new one.” Christmas miracle number one.
Our second Christmas miracle took place as the woman was paying for her Night Before Christmas book. She pre-paid for the replacement book we had to order for Harriet. Now, that’s how you pay it forward. Everyone left happy and Harriet will have her book this week. We all got a little misty-eyed at this gesture and everyone could feel the holiday spirit.
The after Christmas sales have been steady, but there’s always such a dramatic drop-off from the height of the season that it’s hard to adjust to. Many customers yesterday were new to the store, coming in with gift cards and experiencing the store for the first time. These slower sales allowed me to see the sheer delight on a five-year-old’s face when his dad was explaining, clearly for the first time, what audio books are. The dad pointed to the narrator’s picture on the box and said, “You see this guy, he reads the book. You put the CD in the machine and this guy will read you the whole book.” We could all see the boy making connections and when he finally got it, a delighted, broad smile crossed his face, “That’s so cool. He just reads to you.”
And, in an instant, a new generation of reader (or listener) had been introduced to the store. Not a bad way to head into the New Year.

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