Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Victorian Street Fair

Just a quick mid-week update... If you are at a loose end this Sunday (25th May) then pop along to Bo'ness and witness the spectacle of the newly resurrected 'Amazing Borrowstounness Victorian Street Fair'. The posters promise everything from a craft market and face painters to live music and a chance to meet Queen Victoria herself! Should be an interesting day - fingers crossed for nice weather! The fair is on from 12noon - 4pm (which by a happy coincidence is the same as our regular Sunday opening times!) so do pop along and say hello, and we'll see you there!

Monday, 19 May 2008

This, That and The Other...

For those who are interested, the ferns are still going strong (thanks for all the tips!) so perhaps my gardening prowess is improving... just in time for the Chelsea Flower Show! Anyway, onto matters non fern-related.

First of all, a big hearty 'Congratulations!!!' to all at Mostly Books in Abingdon who won a Nibbie a last week's British Book Industry Awards. Fantastic news for a fantastic shop, and very well deserved! (For anyone in the Oxfordshire area, do pop in there and say hello!)

Back to the ups and downs of my shop, and last week I ended up finishing off a few loose ends that have been hanging around since opening and which have really been getting on my nerves recently. Namely the store cupboard and the fact that it's too messy to even be considered for use as an actual store cupboard. It was awful. However, yesterday was rather quiet in the shop so I decided to take the time and get it all completely sorted and I'm pleased to say - I can actually get the door properly open in there now! I chucked out two bags of rubbish which included empty paint tins and (still!) a few things from the previous incarnation of the shop - 'the gift shop that wouldn't die'.) I even properly rewired the light in there without major incident. Hooray for me! (It's the small things that keep me happy.) So this week I have an uncluttered shop and an uncluttered mind (well, sort of, there're still a few other niggles to clear up) but all in all I'm much better placed to tackle the horrible, horrible pile of paperwork I've been pushing to one side recently. By the end of this week, I'm determined to have worked my way through it! So there.

In other news this week I've also been taking a look at the kinds of books that have actually been selling in the shop in a vain attempt to get a better grip on future ordering and streamline the chaos a little. Though I know that realistically it's way too early to even start thinking about this, I like to analyze. It's what I do. So having poured over the reports for a substantial amount of time I figured out that actually I've sold books pretty evenly from the biggest few sections, and in total I've sold at least a few books from each and every single section bar one... Anyone guess which? I'll give you three choices - Graphic Novels, Wicca & Witchcraft, or Fashion and Beauty. Answers next week - perhaps I'll even have sold something from that section by then!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Involuntary Fernslaughter...

So that was week 3 in the shop (still can't believe how fast time is flying by at the moment!) and it looks like things are starting to settle down into some sort of routine after the initial first few weeks of trading - I'm almost able to start predicting when the quiet and busy times are now too which is letting me start planning the rest of my 'behind the scenes' type workload a bit better (yes, there are still a million things to do!).

This week I finally managed to get the internet connection working and sent out the first round of enewsletters so they are now available for anyone else who wants to sign up - just go to and click on the 'enewsletter' tab and one will be emailed out to you asap). I have the subject specific ones to work on this week now and hope to get them sent soon too. The rest of the work for this week includes the June ordering (there's nothing like leaving things to the last minute!), getting started on a few more marketing projects and organising a couple of bigger things that I've just not had time to get round to till now (more on those as the weeks go on!) Oh, and of course endless paperwork. ugh.

So overall, on the positive side we're still having a few people wander in who didn't realise there was a bookshop in town yet, but who've all given fantastically positive reactions... and bought books! We still appear to be getting great word of mouth recommendations too as a few people are mentioning that their sister/cousin/neighbour/friend told them to come in which is brilliant, and there have been some lovely comments sent through via the website form from people who've stopped by over the last few weeks too, so thanks to everyone who's chipped in - it's wonderful to know that people do value the shop, the books, and what we're trying to provide here. Also, the customer ordering side of the business is picking up now as people start to realise we can usually get things delivered to the shop for collection quicker (and without charging any postage!) than certain large online alleged 'book' shops can supply.

However on the negative side, no matter how hard I try, it seems I just don't have the magic green-fingered touch. Two of the plants I attempted to revive last week haven't made it through the week - RIP Catherine 'Kathy' Cookson-Reichs (Boston Fern) and Jonathan-Faye Kellerman (Boston Fern) - both dearly missed.

...We still have a few more though - JGRR Ballard-Tolkien (Boston Fern), and William 'Bill' Bryson-Shakespeare (Boston Fern)...
... and Agatha Raisin-Christie (Dragon Tree), Ian M. Banks-Rankin (Dragon Tree), Jack Frost-Kerouac (Dragon Tree)...

...And of course... Lynda La Plante.

I really should go and do some work now.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Bank Holiday Shop Gardening!

I'm writing the blog from the shop this morning for the first time. It's a little strange to be writing it here - everytime someone walks in I seem to lose concentration and have to stop - but thanks to an internet glitch last night I couldn't make my usual Sunday night update from the comfort of the kitchen table so here I am. Hopefully it'll all be fixed today as I've still got the first of the enewsletters to send out - they're all ready to go as soon as I can get connected on the computer they're stored on!

Anyway, this week in the shop we've had a few exciting moments - yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Vanessa from the Children's Bookshop in Edinburgh who popped through to say hello and cheered up a Sunday afternoon which till then had been rather quiet. It was lovely to see her and her family and I'll be popping through to see her shop and attend one of her author events later on this week.

After they left the rest of Sunday afternoon started to liven up a bit and quite a few customers had visited by the end of the day, so all in all it looks like Sunday afternoon opening is slowly starting to pick up pace!

Also, earlier on in the week I changed the shop window and shop theme from 'Book Heaven' to 'Gardening' just in time for a glorious bank holiday! I spent a happy morning drawing lovely little flowers all over the window with chalk pens - my new favourite toy - and I also suspended the little 'Hanging Gardens of Babylon' kit above the rest of the books (see what I did there? eh? eh? ahem). Unfortunately I can't seem to get a good photo of the window though but I'll try again later today and post it after - I refuse to let it beat me. Anyway, on setting out all the gardening books and a few garden related props in the window it suddenly remined me that actually I hadn't watered the shop plants since opening!

Most are OK but a few are in need of serious revival! So after reading some tips How to Grow Fresh Air a book that's intrigued me since it arrived in the shop the other week I'm now off to mist the Boston Ferns and water the Dragon Trees!

Hope everyone has a lovely bank holiday!