Yesterday we had our annual outdoor book sale. We finally had summer weather this week, with temperatures in the eighties, so we didn't have to worry about being rained out, which has been a problem in the past. Luckily, we were in the shade--for the first half of the sale, anyway, as it was a bright hot day and I noticed sunburns-in-the-making amongst our visitors. When the sun full-on hit the book sale, we set up chairs for staff and friends on the other side of the alley in the shade of our neighbor's building, or hid in the doorway of the shop.
I worked hard on advertising the sale, including making hand printed posters, which our old friends at Keep Posted distributed around town on walls of coffee shops and businesses (It was fun to run across one in odd places, like at the liquor store.) Troy, our wonderful shipping staff person, also covered the neighborhood telephone poles with photocopied book sale fliers the day before the sale, and we had notices on local blogs--thanks Paul Constant--and sent out emails.
Sean, Tim, and I were setting up the sale in the parking area outside our building, which meant hauling out about 30 boxes of books (when you're in the business, it's common to think of numbers of books in terms of numbers of boxes)-- about 750 books-- and unpacking them onto tarps laid out on the ground, spine up. It's funny how a pile of 30 boxes of books looks a lot bigger than the same books laid out on the ground. Sean wondered aloud what our policy was about "early birds", the canny hunters of every yard sale: "What if Eddie (a fellow bookdealer whom we always run into at book and yard sales) shows up early?" I said, "Early birds are okay with me!" and at that moment Eddie pulled up in his car. He was our first very gracious customer and bought three boxes of books, as did another bookseller friend, Roger, who showed up shortly after. From then on we had non-stop shoppers, including old retail store customers, friends coming by with treats - we received delicious juice popsicles, organic flax bread, Vietnamese sandwiches, and homemade black currant preserves. In return we gave out lemonade or bottles of beer. It was an all-day party. It was fun to see someone spend twenty minutes browsing through all the titles and then come up to buy just one or two-- why did they pick those? A local political activist bought The Selling Out of the President 1973 (which has a cool vintage cover of Nixon on a cigarette pack); artist Jon Strongbow bought comic books; one nice fellow filled a whole box with mostly political books, including Chomsky who is too "common" (imagine that) to sell online. One woman asked to look at our signed copy of Ray Bradbury's Match to Flame - she had seen it on our website and was pleased to examine it up close. Alas, it wasn't for sale at $2, but I told her she could visit it any time.
By the end of the afternoon, as the sale was wrapping up, a couple of longtime Pistil customers from 15 years ago as well as former Pistil employees were all here together and we had a photo op.
L to R: Greg Bachar (an English teacher who sent his students to us to buy their class Bukowsi books); Nevdon Jamgochian, former Pistil Employee; Tim Ridlon, Pistil staff of 15 years; Sean and Amy.
By the end of the sale, we had sold about half of what we put out. Yay!