By Caro Hedge
Three months after we had assumed we would be open, we were still working on the store, having spent three weeks on the verge of “almost ready” but having one or another thing coming up almost every day that delayed everything once again.
Then we got a kick in the seat of the pants in the form of a write-up in the local paper. It was on the front page, complete with a photo! Very nice of them, too. We had the front two thirds of the shop looking good, but the last third was a rather large pile of this, that, and books.
The image of all those potential customers arriving, finding we were not open and going away, perhaps never to try again, caused us no end of frantic discussion. Why throw away all that free advertising? So we said what the heck and opened. We apologized to everyone about the mess, explained that we were only taking checks and cash until we got our act together, and spent abut twelve hours a day unpacking boxes, pricing books, cleaning, washing windows, hanging pictures, hammering and adding furniture bits. In the middle of all of this the city inspector came and gave us a short list of things to address.
We had purchased a cash register, a computer, surge protector, and printer, all of which had to be unpacked, set up, tested and fiddled with. In the case of the cash register, it came with a manual in the obligatory dozen languages, each printed out in the tiniest font possible, meaning it could only be read with a magnifying glass or by blowing the page up on a copy machine. Plus I had to learn how it worked, some details of which do not seem to be covered in the creative-word-choice English translation. That machine and I still have issues. “Void!” I insist, stabbing the button. Apparently one must first push some other button to allow it get mentally ready for the subsequent demand.
We decided to postpone our grand opening until later, since we were already juggling quite a few things. Apparently a grand opening can be done with or without the Chamber of Commerce. The C of C is a hundred dollar a year in annual dues which we thought to postpone until we had actually made some money or 2011 came around, whichever came first.
So there we were, without much fanfare, open. Out front, we have a book cart in which we put bargain books, a basket with foliage of the season, a welcome mat and sometimes something hanging from the aluminum awning we share with the beauty shop next door. We have our name on the door and the sign above on the side of the building. We need an A frame triangular sign because it is all-the-thing on Main Street, and have plans to make it a really big one.
We had people coming in, some just for curiosity. We actually had someone wander in and ask, “So what do you sell here?” and another nice lady seemed to think we were a branch of the lending library. But, in general, the readers have been finding us, and they are pleased. So are we!
* image from The Lamar Ledger