Tuesday, March 30, 2010

patience pays (we hope)

Hello all!  March has been a very busy month for me so far, bookstore- and life-wise.  My lovely mother and sister came to town for a nice visit, I hosted the first-ever Avid-affiliated book club, I cancelled two lunches with two author friends due to busy-ness or sickness (blargh--sorry Laurel & Jessica!), and I reestablished myself as a self-proclaimed iMovie guru.  It's true.

The month kicked off with an hour of utter frustration.  In the two years I've been planning this business, I've encountered many a setback, and I know there'll be many more.  So far I've proven to be resilient, so I'm not too daunted.  But man--if you had seen me at 12:22 AM on March 1, 2010, you would have encountered an angry, teary-eyed, unable-to-sleep entrepreneur.  Due to website issues, the Pepsi Refresh Project application grant I'd been working on for days simply disappeared the moment I logged into submit it for a grant.  Boo.

But guess what?  Pepsi has graciously fixed the situation, and I'm pretty happy with the solution:  they apologized for the system having lost my application and said that if I'd be willing to start the process all over again, they'd submit my project on April 1 at midnight.  (May I also say I was super-impressed with the customer service I received during my multiple troubleshooting calls? I don't drink much soda these days and of course am a born-and-bred Coca-Cola girl, but Pepsi's making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside of late.  Heresy, I know!)

Yippee.  I hesitate to celebrate too much over this small victory, but I'm pretty confident I'll start harrassing you for vote-clicks starting on April Fools Day.  SERIOUSLY.

I've also created a fundraising page on IndieGoGo.com!  I'll make the big push for that starting April 1st, too, but thought I'd plug it here first (which gives YOU the chance to be our official first donor!).  Due to sheer inventiveness and kindness from Avid supporters, we have a bevy of awesome "VIP perks" at every donation level.  Signed books, handcrafted stationery, free coffee for a year, original artwork, bookmarks, autographed CDs, and more, more, more are yours for the taking once you donate.  I've looked at other IndieGoGo project pages and, while some VIP perks are certainly exciting, NOTHING beats the lineup Avid has for you. (There is no minimum donation, though, so even pitching in a buck would be great!  Perks start at the  $10 donation level.)   Check out the page here: http://www.indiegogo.com/avidbookshop

Back to work now. Thanks as always for reading, and stay tuned for specific information on how to employ free mouse clicks, small donations, and even big investments to help Avid open its doors.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

a diverse group at our first book club meeting!

As you may suspect, Avid will eventually play host to a variety of book clubs (and will aim to have a space set aside for any area book clubs to meet, even if an Avid bookseller is not involved in the discussion).  For now we're starting modestly, with just one book club I've talked a lot about on this blog.

The inaugural meeting of our Buy Local Book Club/We Are Athens Book Club/Insert-More-Clever-Name-Here-About-Localism-&-Sustainability-&-Community-Book-Club Here went really well.  We met at the Globe, a longtime downtown Athens pub and restaurant and had a couple of hours of good discussion, meeting new friends, and even a little bit of networking.

Catrina Cook (J House Media) and I were there to informally and unofficially represent We Are Athens.  The rest of the 13-person group was made up of people with a variety of backgrounds.  We had a couple of folks who are new to Athens as well as 20+ year veterans; we had one out of towner who wanted to learn about the club and a handful of small business owners who want to see some changes in the Athens community landscape.  We had one neighborhood-conscious fellow who's spearheading the new Barber Street Park Project--surely something the Project for Public Spaces would be excited about.  The variety of attendees was refreshing and people gave me perspective on things I hadn't thought about before.

In the interest of brevity, I'll mention a few things here that we mentioned LOVING about Athens.
1. music
2. approachability/friendliness of citizens and local government
3. open-mindedness
4. dynamic, ever-changing nature of the city
5. all the green space
6. gardens (personal, community, and even large-scale ones)
7. our thriving downtown
8. the sense of hope & optimism among many citizens
9. people's willingness to change
10. architecture
11. vibrant arts scene
12. creative enclave that is Athens
13. tourism is always improving

And here are a handful of things we'd like to see for Athens.  Ones with asterisks (*) are already in the works, as far as I know!
1. edible schoolyards*
2. music programming in schools (Athfest InSchool, for example)*
3. more family-oriented activities*
4. free public transportation
5. more frequent bus service/more extensive transit area
6. pedestrian-only areas of downtown
7. trolley/streetcar on Boulevard
8. require students to live on campus for at least a year
9. a UGA campus that is open to the downtown rather than closed off and separated
10. more bike-friendly routes & amenities*
11. We Are Athens (Buy Local Athens)*
12. a "playborhood"

Your turn:  what would YOU add to this list?

We've selected our next book, and I hope to see you at the next meeting (date & time TBA) so we can discuss The Better World Handbook:  Small Changes That Make a Big Difference.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Buy Local Book Club is tomorrow!

(...and we need a more fitting name.  We'll discuss this at our meeting tomorrow!)

When:  Thursday, March 18th from 6 PM - 9 PMish

Where: UPSTAIRS at The Globe(199 N. Lumpkin St., 30601 - downtown Athens, GA)

Why:  To discuss Athens and ways to nurture it; to talk about localism, sustainability, "place-making," and community enrichment.

The BookThe Great Neighborhood Book by Jay Walljasper

Walljasper's book focuses heavily on the concept of place-making as envisioned by the Project for Public Spaces.  If you haven't acquired a copy of the book, no worries--your comments and insights will still be quite valuable!  For a crash course in place-making, check out PPS's website.

At the meeting, we'll select what our next book club choice will be--the next meeting will be in about three months, as the club aims to meet quarterly.

Thanks for your time, and I really hope to see you there tomorrow evening.  Email me with any questions, and contact The Globe at (706) 353-4721 if you need specific directions.

Friday, March 5, 2010

website update

Remember all that talk about my wanting to start a website months before the store opened?  A site where you could buy lots and lots of in-print titles through me and have them shipped to you directly from the wholesaler? Well, I'm having second thoughts about when I'll establish the website.

I'm going to create this type of site no matter what, but now I'm rethinking the timeline--think it'll probably be best to launch the site 1-3 months before opening instead of 6+ months before opening.

I had a phone meeting with ABA IndieCommerce web guru Matt Supko this afternoon, and he gave me a lot of good, 100% solicited advice.  I'll still use funds generated from the photo show to go toward the website--I'll just launch the website a little later than planned.  (My reasons for this are myriad--if you want to know more details or want to argue with me about it, I welcome your thoughts.)

Will anyone out there raise a fuss or be mad at me for delaying the site launch?  Bring it!  Please let me know what you're thinking.

One of my alternative plans is to let you contact me with a list of books you want; I'd get them from a publisher or wholesaler & then send them to you--heck, I'll even hand-deliver if you're in Athens.  The shipping time would be longer than if you were to buy them through another website (ahhemm...non-sales-tax-paying Amazon), but you'd be buying locally and getting some good books!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

some ideas for spring - please share your feedback!

I have a few ideas (and some official plans) for spring 2010.  Now that it's snowed twice (!) in Athens in 2010, I'm definitely ready for warmer temperatures to hit!

1. Thursday, March 18th at 6PM at The Globe:  Buy Local Book Club
I've written extensively about this already, but if you've missed details, check out our Facebook invitation and this blog post on We Are Athens (the Buy Local Athens initiative).

2. Saturday, April 17th all over the US (and in ATHENS, if you join me!):  "E-Free Day"

I'll be at a wedding most of the day, so I am unable to organize any in-person, formal event on this day.  But we have a Facebook event where you can pledge to be e-free on 4/17, no matter where you live.   I hope the weather is beautiful so that it makes it easier for us technology addicts to take a complete break from everything electronic.  That's right:  no TV, no computer, no cell phones, no e-readers!  Read more here.

3. A Saturday or Sunday, sometime in April or early May:  SCRABBLE TOURNAMENT!
This event, another in the series of community-focused fundraisers for Avid, will be held at a locally-owned venue large enough to accommodate however many people sign up! To make the tournament more fun, we'll (perhaps) be looking for food and/or drink donations and a place that will host us out of the goodness of their hearts (fingers crossed).  We also need folks to lend us their Scrabble game sets (complete with a board and all the tiles!) for the day.  As I'm a word nerd, you probably won't be surprised to learn that there are 3 Scrabble sets in my house as we speak.  Please contact me if you have venue ideas, a Scrabble game to lend, some swag to throw into the prize packages, or any other thoughts on the matter.

Most likely the tournament sign-up fee would be between $5 & $15.  Top 3 or 5 winners would receive some good prizes!

4.  Another book sale, date & place TBD.  Several of you made it out to our holiday book sale in December 2009.  I sold a lot that day, but as more and more folks have dropped off boxes of wonderful books, my shelves are filling up again and I've got to sell these before my house collapses under their weight!  :)  If you have any ideas regarding a book sale date, venue, etc., please email me.

Thanks, and let me hear from you!

-Janet G.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

GA Historical Society could use your used books!

(Thanks to Christa from primo Atlanta blog pecannelog for the heads-up. I've cut and pasted the Georgia Historical Society's email below.)

Georgia Historical Society Book Sale in Jeopardy! 

The Georgia Historical Society needs your used books for its Annual Book Sale to be held April 23-24, 2010. Based on the current level of donations, this year's sale will be cancelled due to the low volume of books. Clean out your closets and clear away your clutter to support this annual fund-raising event!

This popular annual event raises greatly-needed funds for GHS's library and archives. Faced with more budget cuts from the State, the revenue from the Book Sale is needed more than ever. Proceeds from the sale are used to purchase new library materials and to care for the oldest collection of Georgia history in existence.

Donations, of all sizes, can include rare and non-rare: fiction, poetry, children's, and all non-fiction subjects including history, biography, current events, how-to, religion, business, self-help, cooking, gardening, etc.

Magazines/journals, obsolete audio/video, and games donations will not be accepted.

Donations to the Book Sale are tax deductible. For more information or to volunteer, contact GHS at 912-651-2128 or email us at library@georgiahistory.com.

 The Georgia Historical Society, headquartered in Savannah with offices in Atlanta and Affiliate Chapters in 80 counties, is the oldest cultural institution in the state and one of the oldest historical organizations in the nation. It is the first and only statewide historical society in Georgia. For nearly 175 years, GHS has collected, preserved, and shared Georgia and American history through a variety of educational outreach programs, publications, and research services. For more information visit:   www.georgiahistory.com.

We Are Athens (Buy Local Athens) update (& more links than you'll know what to do with!)

I've mentioned the Buy Local Athens initiative a couple of times on this blog (here and here, for example) but haven't given too much away yet, as we're hoping to stage a fun launch event where we'll spill all the beans.  So many people (Athens residents, business owners, and more) are interested in being a part of the movement--it's quite inspiring, and we on the board are happy to be working for such a great cause.  For now I'll encourage you to visit our Facebook page and become a fan there.  Once our website is ready to launch, believe you me:  you'll hear about it on this blog, on Facebook, in the local newspapers, and more!

Let me outline a few details about the project so far, just to let you get your bearings.

1. After toying with several ideas, we the board voted on the name We Are Athens.  (Special thanks to Alicia Nickles of Flagpole Magazine, Satisfactory Printing, and others for that idea.)

2. We established a Facebook page not long ago and have already surpassed ONE THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED FANS. As I suggested above, the response has been phenomenal.

3. We're gathering funds so we can formally affiliate with the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) and become an independent business alliance

4. Once we affiliate with AMIBA, we'll register our organization as a 501(c)3 nonprofit.  Once we're registered as a nonprofit with the state of Georgia and once we have formally announced the project, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals will be able to become members of We Are Athens.

5. And once we're off the ground, we'll be able to provide lots of services to the community.  Later we'll make a formal announcement of the ways in which We Are Athens aims to help Athens, but you can expect to see a directory of locally-owned businesses, resources for buying locally, lists of benefits for buying locally, and some members-only perks (to name just a few things!).

Now let me introduce to you the Buy Local Athens/We Are Athens Board.


Catrina Cook (J House Media), Chair
Angi Harben (Classic Center), Co-Chair
Janet Geddis (Avid Bookshop), Secretary
Fausto Sarmiento (Banco de la Oportunidad/First American Bank & Trust), Treasurer
Chris Blackmon (ATLAS Real Estate Advisors) and Sam Drennen (First American Bank & Trust), Planning Committee
Alicia Nickles (Flagpole), Marketing Chair
Candice Courcey (Urban Sanctuary Day Spa), Membership Chair

Whether or not you're in Athens, I encourage you to look around and discover (or rediscover) the true gems of your town:  locally-owned, independent businesses that enhance your community.

If you're new to the "buy local" movement, look around at these resources that explain the ways your community can be enhanced through a focus on local businesses:

Good place to start:  Why Buy Local?
"New Study Shows Power of "Buy Local" campaigns
Chris Wyrick's article in the ABH about why buying local makes sense
Buying Local is a Growing Trend (Bookselling This Week article)

Our Buy Local Book Club is getting some good attention.  Please consider stopping by!  The book we chose is really great, but if you can't get your hands on a copy before the meeting, that's okay--we'll be able to have a good conversation all the same. I hope you'll join us.

Have a lovely (snowy) day!

Monday, March 1, 2010

the grant that almost was...

For quite awhile now, I've been gearing up to submit a grant application to Pepsi's Refresh Everything program.  To make a long story short, Pepsi is giving away lots of monthly grants in various amounts (smallest grant is $5,000; biggest one is $250,000).  I was pretty proud of the application I put together, complete with my second-ever iMovie.

12:01 AM EST today, March 1st, the voting opened.  And I could not log in correctly.  I kept getting a welcome screen for a 50-year-old named Stacey.  (I'm not Stacey, and I'm not 50.  I'm Janet, and I'm 30.) When they finally did recognize me as Janet Geddis of Avid Bookshop, they had no application on file for me.  Frustrating to say the least!

As of 12:22 AM, 1000 ideas had been submitted and the submission process was closed.  Alas. Sorry, Avid wallet.

It's not much of a consolation to know that hundreds of others had similar difficulties.  I applaud Pepsi's willingness to donate grant money to causes that will effect positive change in the world, but I do wish they'd anticipated the turnout a bit more and been able to handle the traffic.

Because you are an Avid blog reader, you get to watch the video that was part of my seemingly lost application!  Lucky, lucky you. 

I can't embed the video because it's wide-screen, so click here to view it.