Sunday, October 16, 2011
That's right: after four years of planning and education and preparation and money-gathering, Avid Bookshop has opened at 493 Prince Ave. in in-town Athens. Please drop by!
This week we are open Sunday from 10:30-5:30 and again Tuesday &Wednesday from 10:30-5:30. We will be closed on Monday, Oct. 17 so that we can run lots and lots of errands to prepare for the grand opening weekend.
On Thursday we have our first-ever poetry reading--local poet Ida Stewart will be here to celebrate the release of her new book, Gloss.
On Friday, 10/21 we'll be open from 10:30 AM until late, because Friday the 21st is our Grand Opening Party Part I! And on Saturday the 22nd we're having the Grand Opening Part II, which is a kids' party. Come on down!
We're beyond thrilled to be here at last. Can't wait to see you.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Full Bloom Storytimes:
Every Wednesday at 4, Full Bloom hosts storytime. Avid Bookshop helps out the second Wednesday of each month. Come see us! This storytime is especially geared toward babies & their caregivers, but kids up to 7 will be entertained.
220 N. Milledge Ave
Athens, GA 30601
The first Wednesday of each month at 11:00 AM, Janet visits Arrow Space for Families (adjacent to Big City Bread Cafe) to read stories with the little ones. The reading is especially geared toward infants & toddlers, but all kids and their caregivers are welcome.
393 N. Finley St., Studio D
Athens, GA 30601
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The Athens Banner-Herald posted this article today, and of course I decided to formally respond. Here's what I wrote in the comments section. Let me know what you think:
Some may be surprised to hear that even though I am a local, independent bookseller, I am saddened by our community's loss. When Borders closes their 399 stores, approximately 10,700 booksellers will be jobless. This is heartbreaking for them and for the industry at large. Many of my friends and acquaintances here list our Alps Rd. Borders as one of their favorite places to hang out, and I feel sympathetic to them--it's hard to lose that "third place."
When Borders' woes were first made very public months ago, I wrote a piece for Beyond the Trestle about what it would mean if Borders were to go under--you can read it here if you're interested: http://beyondthetrestle.com/content/well-be-better-borders
To answer to a few of the commenters above: Athens will now be home to just two independent bookstores. Jackson Street Books downtown sells used books, DVDs, and more. They have a great collection of competitively priced used materials and antiquarian books. Avid Bookshop, my store, is currently online and events-based only, but we are moving into a retail storefront on Prince Avenue in the coming months. We sell both new and used books as well as cards, gifts, and locally-made gift items.
There's a lot of talk out there about the demise of books and reading, but the amount of hours people spend reading has actually remained relatively constant over the last many decades. When the big box stores began to open all over the country in the early- to mid-1990s, many independent shops lost their customer base and went out of business. But, time and time again in recent years, we are seeing that the big box stores are having a hard time getting a handle on the rapidly-changing industry. Some--not all!--independent stores that are willing to alter their business plans and approaches to bookselling are actually thriving, and MANY independent bookstores have been opening in the last couple of years--the number of new indie stores rivals that of the number of new stores per year in the pre-big box days. This is great news for small business, local economies, and, most of all, people who love to read.
All this is to say that I am sad about the closing of Borders and the loss of jobs, but I don't think bookstores are dead. If you value reading, it behooves you to go to a store you know and love, where you trust the booksellers' recommendations and feel comfortable. For some people, that place will be Barnes & Noble. For others, that was Borders. And for many others (like me), I feel most at home in many of the locally-owned bookstores. Not all are fabulous, but the ones worth your time are.
Thanks for reading this long-winded comment!
Avid Bookshop LLCAthens, GA
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
A few weeks back I wrote a short piece over at Beyond the Trestle about why I didn't want the Borders chain to fail. For many moons now, Borders Group has been facing seemingly insurmountable troubles, and today they declared bankruptcy. They have an action plan, though, and hope by shuttering about one-third of their stores (the 200 that are reportedly causing them to lose MILLIONS of dollars) they can save the company at large as they restructure.
I'm not very hopeful that they'll be able to hold on much longer.
The Athens store is a busy, bustling one, though it's never easy from the outside to know if even the busiest-looking retail outlets are indeed profitable. For now, I'm grateful that the acquaintances and strangers at our local Borders have not lost their jobs, benefits, and insurance. That's right: the Athens location is NOT on the list of closing stores. Goodness knows Athens doesn't need any more unemployment.
What consumers must keep in mind is that the death of some bookstores does not at all predict the death of all. Borders' business model is COMPLETELY different from independent bookstores' business models. The buy local initiatives in our country are increasing rapidly, bringing more dollars to our locally-owned businesses (and therefore funneling more money into the local economy). The sheer number of books out there can be overwhelming; it's comforting and necessary to have a book expert at your local store who can help you find the book YOU want to read, not the book all the chains are pushing that week or the book that Amazon's mystical logarithm thinks you want. And you know nothing beats browsing the aisles of a funky, unique bookstore!
Today the American Booksellers Association, the trade association for independently-owned bookstores, released a statement that pretty much sums up how I feel about the situation. They also talk about the successes of most indie booksellers as well as the growing number of us out there. Please read it here.
Note: This piece also appears at Beyond the Trestle.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Here is Lila's piece.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Next book selection for March 9 We Are Athens discussion group: The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition by Michael H. Shuman
"Defenders of globalization, free markets, and free trade insist there's no alternative to mega-stores like Wal-Mart; Michael Shuman begs to differ. In The Small-Mart Revolution, Shuman makes a compelling case for his alternative business model, one in which communities reap the benefits of 'going local' in four key spending categories: goods, services, energy, and finance. He argues that despite the endless media coverage of multinational conglomerates, local businesses give more to charity, adapt more easily to rising labor and environmental standards, and produce more wealth for a community. They also spend more locally, thereby increasing community income and creating wealth and jobs. The Small-Mart Revolution presents a visionary yet practical roadmap for everyone concerned with mitigating the worst of globalization." -Goodreads.com
Search for it on our full-service website, where you can find virtually any book in print (as well as DVDs and music!).
Discussion Group Meeting Will Be Wed., March 9 @ 7PM
All are welcome to attend the We Are Athens discussion group Wednesday, March 9, 2011 from 7-8:30 PM. We will meet at Hendershot's Coffee & Bar, 1560 Oglethorpe Ave (at the Loop).
Reading the book is NOT required!
While we encourage you to at least be familiar with the concepts presented in this book, reading the book is not a prerequisite. Come ready to discuss the themes and ideas presented in Small-Mart Revolution (& listen to what others have to say). Our meetings are open to any attendees, a space for free speech and healthy exchange. Discussion is always lively. Please join us!
Visit http://www.avidbookshop.com for links to our new & used online stores.
We have lots of copies of Small-Mart Revolution at our webstore (http://avidbookshop.theretailerplace.com), and we'd be most appreciative if you bought from us or checked your book out of thelibrary.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
If you keep your ear to the ground in Athens and/or in the bookselling world, you know that I've been working towards opening Avid Bookshop for years now. Perhaps I'm a touch paranoid, but I think it's not too crazy to assume that some of you are thinking, "WHY IN THE WORLD ISN'T THIS BOOKSTORE OPEN YET?"
Here, in a nutshell, are a few reasons why we have yet to move into a retail space:
1. Adieu, business partner. After working together for months, my business partner (and close friend) reevaluated things and decided that starting the bookstore business was not the best move for her just yet. I spent a couple months figuring out a, if I wanted to open the store on my own, b, if I COULD open it on my own, and c, how her absence would change the bookstore plans (it changed a lot).
2. The economic crisis/slump/catastrophe/nightmare/problem-period. This affected my own income (which I'm using to float myself during the first few years of business), my spending habits, and more. On a less personal level, the crisis caused banks to completely rework their lending requirements, resulting in my being totally prepared for loans that no longer existed. More on that at the end of this post.
3. Personal stuff. I could go into more detail here, but suffice it to say that we were dealing with a lot at home in 2010. Things are going well now and everyone is healthy, but for awhile there I had to totally hold off on finding a storefront because of a need to put my family first.
4. The introduction of new, friendly competition. When a new bookstore moved to Athens in October, I was forced to look at my business plan in a different way, wanting to make sure that my plans & services complemented the city's other bookstores--I want each of our shops to be different enough that you want to spend time in all three indie stores. Non-chain bookstores are as unique as their owners, after all. As someone who rearranges the furniture at least once a month, shifting my plans was a fun experiment, and I think you'll be pleased with the results.
5. The limited suitable retail space in my target neighborhood. After a veritable drought, there may finally be some options along the Prince Avenue corridor, and I'm looking forward to opening up shop in a space that's accessible to all you Avid readers in Boulevard/Normaltown and the surrounding neighborhoods. I don't want to jinx anything by saying much more. As many retail store owners have told me time and time again, location is of the utmost importance, and waiting for the perfect (or near-perfect) spot is far better than opening in a place that won't suit my business.
6. I haven't exactly been twiddling my thumbs. Because I am addicted to biting off more than I can chew, and because I'm a sucker for anything related to Athens, books, community building, neighborhoods, and more, I've been keeping myself very busy with other projects as I wait for the perfect time to open the Avid Bookshop storefront. I've been running a successful bookstore business online (http://www.avidbookshop.com), organizing events (including my favorite one from October 2010!), hosting book clubs, and more. I'm also on the board for We Are Athens (Buy Local), the Athens Regional Library, the Boulevard Neighborhood Association, and my condominium association. I have a few non-bookstore jobs, too: I'm a regular contributor (writing about books and reading) to local publications Beyond the Trestle, the Athens Banner-Herald, and Athens Magazine. I also have two other part-time jobs editing & writing, so those keep me occupied in the hours I'm not working on bookstore duties.
Hope that answers your burning questions!
In the meantime, I'm so grateful to those of you who've been shopping with me online (or at special sales, events, and markets). I'm always here to give you book recommendations (it's my job, after all).
Please know I'm working hard to make sure that I bring to Athens a neighborhood, community-focused bookstore that suits YOUR needs. Your patience and support mean so much to me as I continue on this journey.
And, as promised above, here are some boring details about the economics of this, just in case you want to read my ramblings:
Turns out 2008 was one of the worst and best years to decide to launch a brand-new business.
The Good News about these last few years, economically speaking:
For many of us, the economic crisis led us to reevaluate our spending habits, our homes, and our communities. The buy local movement is growing rapidly (locally, the We Are Athens initiative, an organization I am on the founding board of, is ramping up for a big year!), and people are spending their precious disposable income more carefully. As megacorporations and big-box stores continually under-serve shoppers, well-run, independent businesses are taking the reins.
The Bad News about these last few years, economically speaking:
Starting a business from scratch in the best of economic times is hard enough; small business loans are hard to get, but banks have historically been willing to take a chance on young entrepreneurs. This changed over the last couple of years, however. As you're well aware, many banks have failed. Those that remain have more stringent lending policies, especially as many of the loans they've granted are going unpaid by struggling or unprepared business owners or homeowners. As much as they want to help out local entrepreneurs, local banks cannot usually take the risk. Which means those "surefire" loans I'd planned to get a few years ago all but dried up. No need to cry, though--I'm an inventive entrepreneur with a strong support system and a willingness to quickly accommodate to changes in the book industry and our town.