Sales are usually thought of as fun at a bookstore. Customers are eager to snap up whatever bargains they might find. And stores are usually happy to get a bump in cash flow, as well as clearing out the inventory. In our town we have an annual Shelburne Town Day in August, which is when all the retail shops have massive sales. This strategy is a great way to keep visitors in town all day browsing the deals at every store.
Getting ready for a big sale can be an enormous undertaking. Our sale is this Saturday and we are going to put a lot on deep discount. As rules for publisher returns get tighter and tighter, we have found ourselves with books we no longer want, but need to get rid of. Books that have missed their return window are now out of print. We are trying something new: having sales tables filled with deeply discounted books on the front lawn of the store. Often our sales can get convoluted with different discounts for just about every section.
The pricing for this sale is quite simple: 25% off everything inside the store, and outside the store we’ll be selling paperbacks for $2 and hardcovers for $5. We’ll even be ready to process sales outside so folks who are really bargain-hunting can get rung up on the porch. As much as I know we have to sell these books, it still pains me to see some of them go. The thing about sales like this that’s so humbling is I am confronted with my poor buying decisions and bad habits. Nothing makes me feel worse than seeing a stack of picture books I thought were great, but just couldn’t sell and now can’t return.
Setting up all the books is a challenge and one I seldom leave enough time for. First we have to identify the books that are going on deep discount. Here I am blessed by Darrilyn who is in charge of all our returns now. She knows exactly what is out of print and has labeled everything clearly in the basement. Next, we bring up the books and put either a red or blue dot on them. Red dot books are $2 and blue dot books are $5. This process, while tedious, can stave off confusion at the register inside the store when steeply discounted books get mixed in with in-store inventory.
The last, and probably the most important part of a sale, is making everything look good. Sales where the merchandise looks scattered and haphazard. This is where Elizabeth saves the day. She just has a knack for making a stack of books look good and inviting. She makes sure the sale tables stay full and yummy looking right till the end of the sale. These sale days can be exhausting.
There is triumph in a sale, too. To see some truly wonderful books finally find good homes is a lovely thing to see. The look on a kid’s face when he realizes that he can actually get all the books he wants. The briskness of a sale day is also a lot of fun. The feeling of ringing up sales almost as fast as during the holiday season is exhilarating.
And the best, part of the sale this year? There’s now a bakery with coffee next door. So, we don’t have to travel for our sustaining sugar and caffeine.