I feel like today is the calm before the storm, the week before Black Friday. The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the ever-increasing insanity of the holiday season. This year we have five weeks to work late, process hundreds upon hundreds special orders, booktalk until we’re hoarse, wrap and remain cheery, if haggard by Christmas Eve.
Our only concession to Black Friday is opening at 9:00, not 10:00. We will have our sugar plum candy that we give out, at the ready. My Santa hat is clean and ready to go. Getting ready for the last five weeks of the year is much like preparing for war. You have to be well armed, well fed, and not totally exhausted to make it through. Five weeks makes a difference. And if what I’m sensing to be is the case, we will not slowly build up to crazy sales, we’ll be hit hard the last week of November. Having an extra week to shop just means more of the folks who plan ahead will be coming before the beginning of December.
We will field, with politeness and kindness, the special order requests that come in on Sunday with the expectation of Monday delivery. We will try, within 30 seconds of talking to you, to know what books you’d like best. We will decipher as fast as possible botched title requests. This skill is so honed by the week before Christmas that one year a customer hadn’t even opened her mouth and I said, “The Help” and handed her a copy. She was stunned and we made a fast sale and a customer for life.
So on this the last weekend before Small Business Saturday (which has truly been a huge boon to small businesses), I am taking a deep breath. I plan on eating fueling food and drinking lots of water and getting as much sleep as I can, because something tells me this year will be one of the best holiday seasons for independent bookstores in a long while. Customers seems extremely appreciative of indie stores at the moment. Everyday we get new customers who say they want to shop local this season. Mail orders have already increased.
The season will be a blur and that’s just how it should be. It should end with us ragged, out of breath, and proud of a job done well.