I opened the door and people materialized – right before my eyes. It was surprising, like when I spent three hours putting together a remote controlled plane for my son and the thing actually flew! Our first customer browsed, then several hours later returned and bought a $50 Far Side cartoon collection. The actual first sale was a first edition of Annie Dillard’s “The Maytrees,” followed by Eco’s “The Name of the Rose.” We sold a biography of Richard III, William Manchester’s “The Power and the Glory,” Gunter Grass, Shel Silverstein, H.G. Wells… well, I shouldn’t try to list every book, but I was strangely affected by every sale. Many of the books were titles that I had picked out myself, believing they were books that someone would want, or at least that they were books that I thought someone should want. And when they sold, I felt gratified, like when you pick a horse and it wins the derby. And I was gratified to hear so many customers express their excitement about having a bookstore in town. And I was surprised by the number of people that came in not knowing that we were a new store. These were people passing through Pittsboro who stopped because they saw the large “BOOKS” sign that we hung outside, as a placeholder until our real sign arrives.
The days leading up to the store opening were hectic. I still had immense piles of books on the floor, and in boxes, 12 hours before opening. Most of the last week involved sorting and shelving. I had about a dozen friends doing one thing or another during the last week. On Tuesday Billy Mason, wearing a space suit, and his son Raz, painted our stuccoed building. The result was spectacular. When our sign is hung in a day or two, the happy effect will be complete. I was still putting up shelf labels when the “OPEN” sign went up.
My wife bought a cash register two days before opening, and by the time our first customer opened his wallet, we still hadn’t learned the magic incantation that provoked the cash drawer to open. But the answer was as close as a quick call to Mumbai. For credit card transactions we are using the Square, which seems quite efficient, though two days may not be enough experience to base a judgment on. As far as I can tell, the cost is a flat 2.75 percent for all transactions. The Square card-reading device plugs into my telephone and authorizes cards nearly instantly. People seem to like it when they use their finger to sign on my phone screen.
We stayed open until seven p.m. on Saturday, and closed at five on Sunday. In all we grossed about 2/3 of our monthly rent over the two days. I know some of the traffic was opening day excitement, but given that we have not advertised yet, many people still don’t know we exist. All in all, I’m pretty pleased. Our promotional efforts now will be geared toward our Grand Opening November 3. So I have two weeks to work the kinks out of the operation, and to be honest, those first two days were pretty kinky.