Saturday, March 25, 2006

Books, Books, Books

The shipment of 7,000 books has been postponed (thank God), so we do not have to take possession until after the 1st of April. To put it into perspective, that is in the neighborhood of 250 Banker Size boxes.

We also arranged for another 40 boxes from another dealer. They are more non-fiction, rather than collectible fiction. Also, this week we opened an account with a large wholesaler to supply us with Publisher overstocks. These are new books that we can sell at half price. (which, as Martha would say, is a good thing!)

Midtown Books is almost back together, we are putting the finishing touches on it this upcoming week. Thanks to all our regular customers who have put up with the mess the last 2 weeks.

Downtown Books is coming along, with us primarily cleaning out the space right now. We are putting the claims of the HEPA system on the vacuums to the test this week, as we extract 30 years of dust from the walls and floors. We are still shooting for an open date sometime in May...keep you fingers crossed.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The muscles ache..

and the back hurts, but we have the Midtown store back in some sort of order. We are still fine tuning, and honestly, probably will for a few weeks, but we are back to functional, anyway.

I do have to tell you, the customer response to the new layout has been the greatest, confirming my long held belief that I have the greatest customers in the Mid-South.

Also, we are making some hand out flyers about the new store, and intend to blanket downtown with them. Come by later this week and pass them out to your friends, your relatives, heck, give them to your enemies, as far as that goes. The buzz about the downtown store is picking up, and I am damn near giddy about it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Of the making of books, there is no end...

At least, that is what the author of Ecclesiastes said, and after this week, I believe him.

In preparation for opening the Downtown store, we remodeled our Midtown Location, hoping to make it more browser friendly. When we opened this store, it had been a bookshop before (Bonnie's Books, you may recall...Or you may not. They were only open for about 9 months or so) and with us having limited funds but limitless capacity for fun, made do with the existing shelves.

Well no more! This time I am having the store I want, not one that is imposed upon me. So, we closed for 3 days, gutted the shelves, painted the walls, built shelves, popped blisters (from building the shelves, you understand) and built ...err, rebuilt us a bookshop.

So, we are open...Sort of. Things are still a wreck, as you can well imagine. But, books are mainly on the shelves and some sections are even in alphabetical order, no less. The Book Elves are tired and dragging (as am I), but we are still here, selling the odd book or two.

I have been promising pics, so here are a few of the chaos that was this week. When we get it respectable again, I will show you some after pictures.

In the photo below, the incredibly attractive female in the grey shirt is Donna, AKA She For Whom The Sun Rises. The Chunky Balding guy hanging out with her is the lucky sod that gets to wake up next to her each morning.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Just a reminder...

that Midtown Books will be closed Sunday Through Tuesday this week for remodeling. I will no doubt have pictures of the insanity, which I will post later on.

My minions and I will be working away to improve this store, so we can get ready to open the new store. Please come see us later this week, and let us know what you think.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Yes, I actually have a picture to show you

To the left is the building downtown which we will be in. Or, actually, be under. The red arrow on the right hand of the picture shows the entrance to the walk-down stairs that will take you to the store. We are building an iron railing around it, so it looks a little less like a rabbit hole.

Also, note the trolley tracks in the foreground. We are on the Madison line, with easy access from all the downtown hotels.

Below is a clickable link to a Yahoo map of the area, so you can find out exactly where we are.

Map of 152 Madison Ave

If you go by to check out the building, go inside and say hi to Richard in the Tobacco Bowl and Tracy behind the coffee counter. They are super nice folks.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Acquiring books, and phase 1 begins...

Well, it has begun. We arranged yesterday to purchase a large collection (our largest ever, actually) of over 7,000 hardcover first editions in all genres, from history to Literature to mysteries and thrillers. A great client of mine from Chicago is forced to sell his house since his wife is entering a nursing home, and in his new apartment he will have no room for his books. I had mentioned the new store to him, and he made us an incredible offer on them, so we finalized the deal yesterday. Unfortunately, I need to take possession before the end of March, so they may end up in a storage building for a few weeks until we get the new store finished enough to house them.

At our Midtown location, meanwhile, this weekend is when we do our huge remodel in preparation for the upcoming second location. Because of this, we will be closed Sunday the 12th through Tuesday the 14th, opening regular hours on Wednesday (we hope!).

I will post pictures later today.

Who we are, and what we are doing here

The pressure of an inaugural post. Am I writing well, do I have enough skill to hold the audience, or have you already abandoned our feeble blogging efforts and resumed your search for porn, answers to life's questions, or the perfect blackberry cobbler recipe?

My name is Hugh, and I am a bookseller. I own Midtown Books, located in Midtown Memphis, Tennessee, home of Elvis, the delta blues, and Bar-B-Que.

We were recently approached about opening a second location in Downtown Memphis. The Downtown area is vibrant and alive now, and is an area we have considered opening a store in before, but the time just never seemed right. There are always things to do, and you always have in the back of your head that the last few efforts at opening a bookstore downtown did not fare well.

So the first thing to ask ourselves was "Does Downtown need a Bookstore"? We think so. The population of Downtown Memphis is growing significantly (currently at 27,000), not to mention the huge number of people who work downtown but live elsewhere (estimated at 68,000). That is the equivalent of Jackson, Tennessee. Can you imagine a town of 68,000 people who do not have a bookstore? Then there are the tourists. In our interviews with the hotel staff, they all said, without fail, that they get asked many times a day where the local bookstore is.

No doubt a bookstore is needed. So we were off in search of the perfect location, with perfect being described as inexpensive, roomy, and on a well traveled street. We ultimately found one, located at 152 Madison Ave, in the same building the Tobacco Bowl is located in. We have known Richard Alley, the owner of the Tobacco Bowl, for several years, and we already had a small representation of books placed for sale on his mezzanine. So, when we saw the basement of that building, with it's Cheers-type walk down stairs, it's high ceilings and the intricate mosaic tiled floor, we said "why not"?

Currently opening date is planned for the middle of May, 2006 (There is a lot of build out to do). As it currently looks, we will have a full selection of quality, clean used and out of print books, as well as a full fledged rare book room (it used to be a bank vault). We will both buy and sell books there, as well as run our thriving catalogue and internet business from the new location.

Oh yes, what to name it. Well, creativity not being our strong point ( I sell books, not write them) we came up with the highly original name Downtown Books. I can be quite clever when I want to be.

On this blog, I intend to keep you updated with pictures of the new location, our plans and successes, our progress in the build out, etc. In fact, what we hope is that by reading about us on a regular basis, you will begin to feel like it is, in some small way, your bookstore, a place where you belong, where ideas are shared and conversations carried out, where you can have your own little safe place in the world to browse the collected wisdom of writers both past and present.

Thank you for reading this far, and check back later for pictures.