Saturday, November 26, 2011

After the Turkey

Well, one down and one to go – holidays I mean. The weather was perfect in Ohio this Thanksgiving – sun shining, not too hot, not too cold. The turkey cooked to a turn, every dish came out the way it was supposed to and – amazing! – everybody liked everything. And that includes the two year-old. We never did bake cookies or put up the tree, but that’s because Catie’s boyfriend Joe left the kids a remote control powered Jeep of rather large proportions when they departed for Maryland. We took it outside several times and both kids had a blast – Tyler operating it and Dylan running after it screaming like a wild man. We also took an after dinner stroll uptown to the square – Moira, Eric, Tyler and I did at least -- and wouldn’t you know I never thought to bring the camera. The turbo-charged one finally fell asleep after banging every kitchen cabinet door, walking around carrying bottles of spices clutcdhed in both tiny fists, turning the dishwasher on twice, coating my glass topped coffee table with mashed potatoes (a second dessert?) and hitting the phone locator button so many times it’s amazing it still works. The second that curly little head hit the mattress we were out the door leaving Dad in charge!

Medina’s town square sparkles like a Victorian Christmas card topped off with a wedding cake gazebo in the center of the town park. If you watched the old Gilmore Girls TV show think Star’s Hollow and there you have Medina. All we lack is the town minstrel, but Christmas music poured from the speaker system, though it did zing a bit erratically from down-home country to the rhapsodic Ave Maria. I never think of Ave Maria as a Christmas song because the mailman sang it at our June wedding back in the Stone Age. I know, I know – it sounds bogus having the mailman sing, but it wasn’t. Honest.

We called Caitie and Joe in Maryland when we got back, but couldn’t use Face Time which was the plan because Gran and Papa, Stone Age throwbacks that we are, lack Wi-fi. Who knew you’d need it? I thought the technology had something to do with the phone! I was a little sad that we didn’t get to see them and they didn’t get to see how big Dylan is now. It also made me sad to think of them in a little neighborhood restaurant eating turkey. But they will be here for Christmas, so that helps.

Yesterday performed only like a normal Friday at the mall, so I’m wondering if the Big Box Bonanza took a big bite out of it. Tonight should tell the tale. Last year the Saturday after Thanksgiving rocked and rolled, but with the emphasis on electronic gadgetry,big box deals, and the state of the economy I don’t know that we’ll do as well this time. One thing that brought me up short Wednesday night when I went in to clean and restock was the shocker next door to us – yet another dealer has folded and the booth is empty. That means that in one year both booths alongside ours vacated twice each. I know it will fill rapidly, but the turnover frequency is definitely disconcerting. We are still operating well in the black, but since fall there’s been a decided downturn. Maybe it’s books. Maybe it’s the economy. Maybe it’s the mall. I don’t know. What I do know is that this year I have more and better stuff, but I am hearing from other book dealers at different malls that they’ve likewise experienced a drop since summer.

This time I didn’t even entertain the notion of renting the space. I did, however, buy three large bookcases from the ex-dealer at the bargain price of $10 each. She didn’t sell too many books – mostly the cases displayed glass, linens and other smalls. Even if I never expand to a second booth I can use them here for overflow (whatever THAT is), so it’s a good deal no matter what.

Today I need to get with it and work because yesterday I totally vegged out. I’m not kidding. I didn’t do a blessed thing but tidy up the house and read Peter Stoneley’s Consumerism and American Girls’ Literature 1860-1940. Very good and very eye-opening. I love books about books, but after reading this one I will never look at series fiction for girls of the period in the same way. The author is an English professor from Belfast, Northern Ireland, but I think he pretty well nailed the state of American juvenile lit of the period. I guess it could be argued that reading such stuff won't do much to improve sales.  But even with all the very real threats to our profession I still believe that continuing education makes us better booksellers.

By the way, today is the designated national day to support small sellers. I am off right now to buy Eric a Scottish art glass paperweight for his collection from an online antiques dealer. Get thee off to buy a gift from the little guy too. If everyone buys at least one thing that didn't come from a megastore Christmas will be brighter for us all.


Saturday Evening Post said...

You hit the nail on the head, Tess. I've already been buying from the little guy, but now I'll make a particular point of doing so, and we will all be better off. Now let's see, little guys, hmmm.......

tess said...

Oh, I really do believe this. In fact, I made a gargantuan effort to buy as many presents from small sellers as possibl last year too. I am very disenchanted with the big stores and big websites. So much better to deal with a small seller in love with what he or she does. When I find a good one I want to return.