Circle City Books Opening Soon

This is my last post before next week when Circle City opens its doors to customers. I am facing with a calm and serene acceptance the fact that my first week in business will be a chaotic welter of disorder and catastrophe. From credit cards to cash register to furnace to plumbing to signage – all is in flux, and by flux I mean completely beyond hope. All right, I am exaggerating. There is still a sliver of hope that in the next week I’ll get things straightened out.

Nevertheless, we are opening, ready or not. And what will be ready is a store full of books. I’ve finished building and installing the bookshelves, and I expect to spend most of the next week filling the shelves with books. I’ve finished the general fiction and literature room, which is stocked with a mix of classic and contemporary works.  I haven’t counted the books, but I know I have 3,172 inches of shelf space; I estimate about 4,500 books, priced and ready to sell. The most expensive book in the fiction room will be a copy of “The Fountainhead,” the 1949 edition that was published to coincide with the release of the movie, that I’ve priced at $35. I doubt there are more than 30 books priced over $10.

I made a sale this week, though I am postponing the actual transaction until opening day, October 20. Ever since I started to put books in the windows, I’ve had a consistent stream of window shoppers surveilling my store. I change the books every other day or so, and this week a woman called me to ask if I would hold a book that she spied through the window. The book is a reprint of Rockwell Kent’s illustrated “N by E” about his voyage to Greenland. It’s a beautiful book, but I told her I also have an early edition of Kent’s “Salamina,” his second book about Greenland, with even nicer illustrations, and she asked me to hold that one for her as well. If she does return to buy these books, I’ll consider them my first sale.

I took care of my lighting problems this week, installing two double panels of 4-foot fluorescents where a ceiling fan had been. That brightened up my academic non-fiction room well enough to see the cobwebs. Now the room is bright, and clean. I have room for about 5,000 books in there.

We are painting the building on Tuesday; we had it power washed last Friday. On our Saturday workday we had three helpers, and we removed five pickup truck loads of brush from the parking area behind the store, opening more parking spaces and cleaning up the lot. My wife and her friends planted flowers beside the building and set out three enormous pots of chrysanthemums.

Among the details that are still being sorted out is getting my signs up on the store. My sign maker had his phone and internet service disconnected this week when the power company severed the cable. This resulted in losing three days of work on the signs, so we might open without them. We might also open without bookmarks and custom price stickers; normally I write the price in pencil on the inside first page, but there are some things that can’t be priced that way. Eventually I’ll get some Circle City stickers, but not by Saturday. I haven’t tested my new credit card processing system, either. I am using the Square Card Reader device, which works off my smart phone. And I haven’t tested my furnace, which in North Carolina might not be a problem until November, unless…

I’ll let you know next time how all this transpires. Let’s hope there are no earthquakes, power outages, deep freezes or plagues before next week.

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