The Time to be Merry

merry_xmasWell, with less than two weeks to go to the Happy Day, I’m wondering how everyone else fares over the silly season.  For our shop, I find every year that we don’t do very well in sales pre-Christmas, but as the holiday season begins that’s when the shop really takes off, from Boxing Day.  (Note to Jo – perhaps some pre-Christmas advertising next year of the products we do have that aren’t secondhand, such as the odd new book, original gift cards, some notebooks etc)  January is without a doubt always our best month.  We suddenly go from 20-40 dollar days to something in the vicinity of 500-800 dollar days.  It’s a massive difference, and takes some adjusting to!

The same faces, the same families, often come through and I get to see what a difference a year makes in the life of their children.  They are like old friends, a lot of them.  And they always take note of anything that’s changed about the shop since the last time they were in.  We haven’t yet advertised over this time, because it seems busy enough, but this year we have decided to give it a go.  Our town holds a month-long festival over the summer period, and there is a program to go with that, so we have submitted some advertising to this program that every person in town over that time will have.  It will be interesting to see if there’s any difference in numbers at all.  And I will get my second newsletter done in time, I will!

With a busy few months behind me of buying books, I feel that the shelves are stocked rather well, and should make most buyers happy.  On my Christmas wish list remains NEW SHELVING.  But that will have to wait a while yet.  And that front door isn’t going to happen before the summer season now.  I have not one but two keen young people who are willing to help out a couple of days each week, and my husband will be taking some time off his work to help out, so I’m hoping we’re all set.

Unfortunately, the problem is once we’ve adjusted to the new busy-ness, we find that the season’s already over (Australia Day, 26th of January, seems to be the cut-off).  That weekend we watch as the cars towing caravans pour out of town, just as they had poured in on Boxing Day a month ago.  It’s practically clockwork.  It would be absolutely delicious to have a shop that was in a year-round tourist town, and had huge sales every day.  From an economic POV, that is.  But truly, I enjoy the quieter months when my “real” readers wander in from time to time and spend some time browsing and chatting – and they never drip ice-creams around the shop!

1 thought on “The Time to be Merry”

  1. Hi and Best Wishes to All for the Season from Canada.

    Longevity in business is a big help but it is hard to attain and we have been on the brink of telling staff to look for other work several times over the years.

    Sales from December 15 thru 31st have consistently been among our best couple of weeks for many years.
    Until last year our sales during the period November 15 – December 15 were generally our slowest during the year. I think it was because even our loyal customers were reluctant to consider our “used” goods appropriate gifts for others for Christmas.
    The bank crash in the U.S.A. seemed to mitigate some of that last year and our slow period lasted only 3 weeks until December 7.

    This year (our 21st) we hired a marketing manager in June to upgrade our image and expand our customer base and I credit his efforts with shrinking our slow time to about 10 days even overcoming sales killing record cold temperatures during the first couple of weeks of December. This despite the fact Calgarians usually won’t venture out in the cold weather because warm winds from the west (known as Chinooks) often break up our cold snaps.

    I do remember fondly my first couple of years in the business when customers in droves left me immersed cataloguing, pricing and shelfing my thousands of books and hoping someone would come in. Sometimes no one did and quite often I only saw 1-3 customers a day.

    What did it teach me? Don’t rent the cheapest location you can find in one of the quietest commercial districts in your area.

    May the joy of bookselling be a constant in your life.

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