Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bookstore With a Capital "C"

As a small indie bookstore in our community, we often venture outside our own four walls to work with local and regional nonprofits to bring books to events. Why? Because of our dedication to that one key concept:  COMMUNITY. (See our new logo for our core value statement.)

More than a store, more than a retailer, Aaron's Books is a Community-based bookseller. As a retailer and sales-based business, it is often assumed that  we are constantly zeroed in on the bottom line ... sales, marketing, customers, etc., all leading to profit. In reality, our daily planning seldom involves "profit". We may talk about what sold, what people are picking up off the shelves, what our numbers are versus previous years or months... all in an effort to make us better for the Community. (Yes, we do need to make some profit... so we can feed, clothe, and house that cute not-so-little kid the store is named for.) So how do we spread word about our Community involvement and our mission as it were? We go out into the community. (Okay, no more big red "c"... you get it now!)

We enjoy working with a variety of groups to help them educate, promote, and fund raise through book sales. As an indie bookseller, we do not need to go through some corporate chain of command to approve our outreach. We get an email, brochure, call, or visit from a group whose mission and vision focus on some need in the community; we look at our calendar and make plans to support their mission through selling books at their event. We work closely with the organization to make sure what we have at our sales booth fits the event and their mission. Are they a group raising awareness about heart health?Then we supply books relating to healthy eating and living. Is this a garden club encouraging folks to grow their own veggies? Then we bring out our organic gardening books.

These off-site events are such an integral part of our own "mission", that we enjoy them far more than the people asking us to be there know. Many of the groups that approach us do so hesitantly, for fear of being turned down. Again, we are not motivated by profit, so the big chain may ask the question first "What's in it for us?"; whereas we ask "How does this fit with our role as a community member?" Yes, we do get something out of this ... we get to meet people where they are, we get to be a part of another group supporting another aspect of our local community, we get to put smiles on people's faces when they see that a business is willing to support something they are passionate about.  Do we make money? A little, hopefully ... but we donate a lot of it back to the sponsoring organization. The hours of planning and staffing such an event are also part of the donation. The sponsoring organization and event not only get money from the book sales, but they get a knowledgeable sales staff that can also speak about the event and organization.

We just finished two weeks at the Lititz Farmer's Market (look for us there during special event weeks throughout the summer) and are getting ready to do three off-site events over the course of the next seven days.

So why are we sharing this now? Because being a part of the community means we need to let the community know how we can serve them. And again, doing these off-site events is something we enjoy and want to continue doing for many years to come!

So if you are at the Lancaster-Lebanon Reading Council's end-of-year celebration at Gov. Dick Park on Saturday, or the Pennsylvania Downtown Center's annual conference at the Marriott next week, or the Junior League of Lancaster's shopping extravaganza next Friday, be sure to drop by our booth and say hello. (And of course, buy a book or two to support the cause!)

Happy Reading!
~Sam, Todd, Vicky and Aaron

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