It’s a Nice Day for a Black Friday

Josie Leavitt -- November 25th, 2009

Huge Black Friday Sale! For the first time in thirteen years, that’s what our ads say this week. We’ve never had a Black Friday sale before, but we thought we’d ride the Buy Local wave and see if we can’t get folks to buy books closer to home.

We are blessed with an event space upstairs, The Loft, and that’ll be our real discount area. Overstock of which we have a little (okay, a lot) will be on sale, as will coffee table books, hurts and great books that are out of print. The main store will see 20-25% off retail.

Organizing a sale this large is actually a lot of work. The Loft currently has 72 folding chairs set up, so those need to get put away, by someone who isn’t me. While I don’t play tennis, I’ve developed a wicked case of tennis elbow from shelving books for more than a decade. Consequently, I find myself unable to fold up chairs without serious elbow pain. Who knew shelving could be such a hazard?

Then we have to set up the portable tables around the room. That’s easy. The hard part comes with trying to decide what to put on sale and at what discount. Should autographed books go for 10% or 15%? Yummy treasures from days gone by that are great, but have been superseded by newer, hotter titles – what should their discount be? [Elizabeth intercedes here: we will not be getting rid of yummy treasures in favor of newer, hotter titles, but we will sell the hardcovers of books that are out in paperback now.] It’s hard to know. We’ll make our best guess on everything and then be flexible with customers who want to bargain.

With a sale come the books you never want to see again. The books you were returning that inadvertently got sent to the wrong publisher (I hate it when that happens), so they’ve come back to you and you’ve paid freight twice. Somehow these books never quite make it back to their rightful resting place because by the time you get them back from the wrong publisher, they’re now out of print. And you’re stuck with them. These are books that languish in the discount bin. Why you bought that title in the first place dogs you every day at work. These books, these mistakes, these titles that make you shake your head and chortle at your stupidity, these books have to go. We actually borrowed a tip from another bookseller who smartly had a bin with this sign: "We’ll give you a nickel for anything you take out of this bin." Worked like a charm, she said, so we’re trying it.

I’ll post next Monday and tell you how it went. But right now, Eizabeth and I get to spend the next few days going through our entire store’s overstock, deciding which books to move up two flights of stairs from our basement. I’m already tired and I haven’t even made a sale. But I know I’ll have a great turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberries to tide me over.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving, full of family, fun and maybe a few stolen hours to just sit back and read a great book between football games.

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