What goes into the making of a great bookstore? Too many things to list. But as I own what I’m told is a pretty great one, The Well Red Coyote in Sedona, Arizona, let me tell you about the remarks we hear most often. The aspects of our store that people comment on the most are the atmosphere and selection. And there’s more involved in creating both than most people would believe.
More than a year before we opened our store, we started working out our planogram – that’s a diagram of fixtures that shows where products will be displayed in a retail store. We tried out so many different floor plans until we came up with a flow we liked. Then we chose the colors and the style of the actual fixtures. We also had to decide how much space to leave around the fixtures. Months and months of sketching it out on graph paper, and somehow, amazingly, it all came together in life.
One of the most common compliments we receive concerns the atmosphere we created. The more New Age types refer to the terrific energy in our store. Others merely describe it as a “great space,” or they talk about the comfortable ambiance. Whatever they call it, people just seem to like browsing in the store we created. And the people in wheelchairs or on crutches tell us we got the space around the fixtures right.
The other common comment we hear concerns our selection. It isn’t much of a bookstore if it doesn’t have a good book selection.
People sometimes ask whether there’s a service bookstores use to choose for us. There are days that I long to say, “I wish!” But choosing the titles that fill your store’s shelves is one of the most exciting and challenging aspects of the job of bookselling. It’s what gives a store its distinction.
(For the record, the major wholesalers will choose opening inventories for new stores, but their lists include lots of clunkers.)
Naturally, bookstores use a variety of sources for finding new titles, including publisher and wholesaler catalogs and Publishers Weekly and other review publications. Customer recommendations are also a valuable source. But I also subject possible choices to what I call the “tingle test.” If after reading about a selection, I feel a little tingle inside that makes me want to push the “order” button, I know it’s a book for us. Scientific, huh? Strangely enough, it works.
So…the next time you find yourself in a good bookstore, take a moment to consider what goes into making it so good. And if you really like it, be sure to tell the owner and staff. That’s great to hear.
Causes Kris Neri Supports
Sedona, Arizona Humane Society