To Be Or Not To Be

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Just finished reading this article and it’s comforting to know we aren’t alone, trying our best to navigate these choppy waters, stay optimistic, keep the dream alive, and all that good stuff.  Peter Glassman, fellow bookstore owner, laments “You never tell people your problems,” he said. “The worst you say is, ‘Business is a little tight.’ ” However, as the New York Times article reasons, “But that kind of tough-it-out attitude seems to have gone the way of the Book-of-the-Month Club. The independent bookstores that remain have taken a hard-nosed approach to their business, more willing to experiment with new technologies and to tap the carefully cultivated loyalty of their customers.”

Afterwords Books is very fortunate to have had the support of our community, rallying behind us to make sure we met the city’s requirements in order to open our doors at the shop’s new location.  As such, we feel it’s important to let you know that things are not going so well.  Our new location promised to decrease our overhead significantly and as long as we were able to maintain the volume of business we enjoyed in our downtown location, we were optimistic that the bookstore would be sustainable.  We never at any point in this journey expected to “get rich” but, as I’ve shared before, the rewards of doing what I love and simultaneously giving back to the community in a meaningful way has always outweighed the trials of operating an independent business.

To say we’re experiencing growing pains is a gross understatement.  Three months under our belts and our sales have declined sharply (the numbers are painful to look at, quite frankly) and though we’re thrilled to welcome many new customers to Afterwords, (due to better visibility) we are not having near as many visitors to the shop.  To our loyal customers, you KNOW who you are, we say thank you for sharing our philosophy, for believing in the shop local movement, and understanding the value of the small, independent businesses in your town.  You realize the importance of each individual’s commitment to nurture the community, to see your tax dollars directly benefit your city, that culture and diversity are meaningful, that your neighbors are all working together to make a difference.  All your local business owners understand that you, the customer, could buy goods and services at the big box stores for significantly less, but we’re fortunate that more and more people truly understand that the few dollars it seems they are saving at face value are not worth the compromise to the vitality of their community.

We’re committed to keeping the bookstore open until April of next year, but unless business dramatically improves, we will reluctantly close up shop at that time.  Making this public statement is incredibly humbling, but we feel we have a responsibility to those of you who have participated in our Trade for Credit Program, so that you might take advantage of your current store credit.  What can you do?  Tell everyone about us, where our new location is (232 S Buchanan ST in Edwardsville- just across the street from the original Annie’s Frozen Custard location!), that we have parking behind our building, and that we are a family owned and operated bookstore, proud to call Edwardsville home!  Tell them we offer both new and used books, a trade for credit program, free children’s story times, book clubs for all ages, a monthly documentary club, educational toys via MELISSA & DOUG, unique gifts crafted from local artisans, and impeccable customer service, all in a relaxing, inviting environment. We offer a wide range of book selections, including popular fiction, history, science, biographies, cookbooks, home/gardening/crafts, art/music, graphic novels, parenting, reference, children’s and YA titles, and the classics/literature/poetry to browse.

For those of you who want your cozy, quaint, indie bookstore to thrive, know that your captain is the queen of resilience and a hopeless romantic to boot!   Many sleepless nights are spent brainstorming ways to keep this ship afloat… partnering with our fellow small business owners, reaching out to teachers, planning creative offerings at the bookstore, cutting corners (all.the.time.), counting our blessings!, so grateful for the support system we do have for advice, cheerleaders, and available shoulders to cry on.  We’re excited about all the upcoming events we have in the works….more Family Fun Nights, still, and always, FREE story hours for children, titillating discussion and good company shared at our monthly Documentary and Book club meetings, continued support to our local authors, children’s programming, such as Bookworm Buddies, and a place where you’re always welcome to stop by, chat, enjoy a complimentary cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa, peruse the shelves for your next treasure (always priced right!), or take home a free book or two from our free book offerings.  Afterwords will always be your bookstore for as long as you’ll have us.

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