The Power of an Hour

Josie Leavitt - May 21, 2009

We have story hour every Wednesday at 11. It’s always fun to see the little ones come in and sit with their moms, or more than likely, their grandmas, on our multi-colored rug in the picture book section. They gather around, instinctively getting in a circle, small, chubby hands resting on legs waiting for the stories to begin. Our story hour has grown to have quite a following. We have six regulars who walk right in like they own the store. It’s adorable. It’s also profitable.

There is an art to story hour. First someone must love reading stories. We are lucky to have JP Schittina, a former librarian, who knows kids and tends to choose books they’ll love. She’s never missed a story hour unless she’s on vacation, and then she’ll call the regulars to let them she won’t be there. It also helps that we have so many repeat customers to story hour that she knows Gracie likes books with chickens. Anita Jeram’s Little Chick has been a popular request all spring. Henrick likes to listen with his eyes wide, but never says a word. These kids keep coming back and they ask to bring the books home.

I was curious, so I looked up our sales on Wednesdays right after story hour (our point of sale system lets us see a breakdown by hour, by day, etc.) and sure enough, other than after school from 4-6 P.M, the hour after Wednesday story hour is our busiest hour of the week. That’s a pretty powerful statement. I further investigated and found that these customers buy considerably more than the books that were just read. They come back repeatedly. There’s a trust that is built by reading to their children. Parents already know that we understand what books toddlers enjoy and they come to us when they need gifts or new books for their own library.

Another thing I’ve noticed about story hour is how the staff tends to not get as much done, because we’re all listening.

5 thoughts on “The Power of an Hour

  1. Pufferbellies Toys and Books

    We just finished our weekly Friday morning storytime with about 15 kids and parents, many of them regulars. You are right that the hour after storytime is one of the busiest hours of the week. The store is rockin’ right now. The local paper did a story on storytime last week.You can’t beat free front page publicity when you haven’t even been arrested.

  2. Diane

    Love to hear about your trip to NYC and the BEA. Im a huge fan of Julie Andrews. She was an inspiration in getting me started in writing for YA. would love to go but have run out of time. Comming from NZ I would need to know earlier when its held next year. Have fun.

  3. amdavis

    At our store, we have been hosting a preschool storytime and craft twice (we repeat the same program) on Wednesday mornings for at least 9 years now. Our attendance ranges from 35-65 children and it’s the BEST way to develop a customer base! Real live bookseller/potential customer interaction – you can’t get that on-line!


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