Become a Sellable Hunter Not Just a Book Hunter.

I’ve had crap days turn into splendid days just by noticing the smiles of strangers. – BH

There was a forum topic on MySpace just asking to write one sentence. That was what I came up with.
On to bookselling…

What percentage of your sales comes from sidelines?

One of our goals this coming year will be to increase our sidelines. As was mentioned here in a recent post, it’s much easier to sell more to existing customers than to find new ones. Many booksellers often find themselves at thrift shops and yard sales, a breeding ground for inexpensive trinkets/collectibles, so why not try a few items. We hadn’t done sidelines at all but this past summer I experimented with buying a few lamps, candle holders, odd items and they’ve started selling. As with books I find hunting for these ‘sellables’ a lot of fun. Just today while popping into a thrift shop I came across a ceramic Pillsbury Dough Boy cookie jar for all of $3.00. I have it priced at $24.00 and I’m sure it will sell (I’ll let you know). Here are some items I’ve picked up that sold fairly quickly.

Coca-Cola fridge circa 1955 bought $20.00 sold for $45.00
Lamps avg.price $5.00 at yard sales sold a few for $15.00 – $20.00
Art Deco spritzer bought for $27 sold for $45
Decorative tins bought for $1.00 sold a few at $6.00


What sidelines work well for you and have you tried any that just collected dust?

11 thoughts on “Become a Sellable Hunter Not Just a Book Hunter.”

  1. I own a small used book shop in Orono, Maine. I had a holiday open house last weekend where I sold handmade paper jewelry, pottery, and cards along with my books. This was a big hit with my customers! Some of them did all their holiday shopping and had a free cup of coffee and a cookie as well. The jeweler and the potter let their regular customers know that Front Porch Books would be selling their wares. This resulted in new book buying customers for me.

    The Open House turns into a cheerful community party each year which is great fun and makes the my customers happy. The book sales are excellent!

  2. Vickie – Except for scraping snow from a car windshield I’m jealous. I’ve yet to get to Maine but the pics I’ve seen are always beautiful.

    And then to have a bookstore in the near middle of Maine seems too lovely to imagine.

    Sounds like the festivities not only make your customers happy but also the customers of your fellow business friends.

    Good idea mixing up the customers of various interests. It is bound to spill over into new business and friendships for all concerned.

    BH – How tall and wide is the Pillsbury Doughboy Cookie jar? – Does it hold lots of cookies or just a few?

  3. Update on the Pillsbury Cookie Jar.

    It is about 16 inches high and maybe 7 inches wide. It sold already. Took about 22 hours!

  4. Very good acquaint customers with a variety of interests. This greatly increases the number of new business connections!

  5. Sometimes you don’t even have to look, they walk into the shop.

    I almost didn’t open today because it’s snowing like mad and sleeting, but fellow came in to drop off two boxes of books for free. he drives a garbage truck and hates seeing good books get tossed so drops them for us to use or pass on to someone else. Books are the usual “meh” mix of paperbacks but today they came in two metal bound soda crates from the 1920s or 30s.

    One says Moxie and one’ss for Hires rootbeer. Quick search on ebay says they’re at least $20-$30 a shot and we can probably get more for ’em once antiques season restarts.

    Til then they’re really, really nice sturdy wooden crates!

  6. Owning a small book shop in Maine is glorious! I spend my Saturday mornings in the summer buying books on the coast at the big library sales. Then a quick lobster roll and back to the shop.

    Did I mention that my artist friends insist that I take a commission on their sales? Another nudge to the bottom line. I also advertise my intention to donate some of the proceeds-this year to Engineers Without Borders. This draws a few more people to the sale and makes them them happier to spend.


  7. Hey Vicky – Sorry I mis-spelled your name in the previous comment. I know you’ll forgive me because you are most likely used to it.

    Engineers without Borders? – Who needs Borders anyway. Just a big box book store with a canned personality. Why would they want to shop at Borders when they can visit you for great deals on books, coffee, cookies and wonderful conversation with a salesperson with a real personality?

    How is this for an online sales promo for you.


    Hmmm. What affect does dry ice have on books? Might want to check into that before you run with it.

  8. Believe me, I do understand that sidelines can work to generate extra sales and maybe even add some atmosphere to the store – but to me anything that isn’t books is mostly a distraction.

    There is never enough time to process all the books and to improve the book business as it is.

    I wish you all well and hope you sell lots of books this season.

  9. I love the lobster idea. Less messy than a lobster roll to pack.

    We should start a new organization called Readers Without Borders. It is a wonderful pun on a certain big box store, and we could help areas of the world that need books.

    This would be a distraction from the book business, but I like to think of independent book stores being a force for good in the world.

    I think it is time for me to move over to the new Forum…


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