I am sure you’re rolling your eyes in anticipation of another “Save The Bookstore” rant. I am a proud Book Store Geek and a big believer in BUY LOCAL so your fears may not be unwarranted. I am not going to wax nostalgically about an almost-extinct breed of shopping destination or beg you to support them as an act of charity. What I want to share is what I have discovered (at east in my area).
LOCALLY OWNED BOOK STORES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR GYMNASTICS BUSINESS.
As much as possible I frequent a number of local book shops (Bald Face Books, Riverrun Books, Water St Books). Whether I am looking for a quick read or something that is going to make me really think I am always able to find or order what I want. I do try to avoid the big stores like Barnes and Noble but on occasion I have to go there to pick up a travel book. I do shop online for more technical books and I do have an iPad and I read on that as well. To me, the experience at my local book stores far out weighs the few dollars in savings I may get at a large chain. I also know that the money I spend there flows back into my gym.
10 (and a 1/2) REASONS TO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE.
1. THEY ENTERTAIN KIDS.
Bookstores are goldmines for parents. A well-stocked children’s section can engage a kid (and their parent) for a serious stretch of time. Many have story hours and some post children’s artwork. In your gymnastics business you are always looking for new customers. So are bookstores- Try to do some cross marketing with them.
2. THEY STOCK LITERARY TREASURES.
You could hunt for rare, vintage, and signed books online, but it can be easier and more reliable to do this through your local book store. Parents in the lobby of my gym are ALWAYS talking about a “good find” whether it is a good price on a new scarf, or a new book.
3. THEY BRING CELEBRITIES TO TOWN.
Local bookstores bring in up and coming authors as well as the famous and established authors to do book signings. I live in a town of about 25,000 people and have been able to see many authors at our local store. Steven King, Dan Brown, Stephen Greenblatt and Joe Hill just to name a few. Who else was there? Many of the parents of kids I have in the gym and it is ALWAYS good to be seen in the community.
4. THEY EDUCATE YOU.
It’s one thing to buy a cookbook. It’s another to buy the cookbook and watch the author’s technique in action and taste the result. Events like this are happening probably once a month in a book store near you. There are experts speaking and answering questions. Again, you will see many of your current and hopefully future clients at these things PLUS you get smarter.
5. THEY HAVE REAL PEOPLE ON HAND TO HELP YOU
While online-only booksellers do make individualized recommendations, these are based on algorithms. “Algorithms still can’t match the human brain for book recommendations,” says John Jenkins, manager of the MIT Press Bookstore. Bookstore staff members help you navigate what’s there. During this time you are talking to them about what you do- and when they are helping the next customer, “Oh, you have kids? That is great! I was just helping the person who owns the gymnastics club in town. What a great person.”
6. THEY OFFER GREAT BOOK GROUPS
Book clubs/ groups are made up of a lot of people you want as customers. (They can also be made up of some crazy people who have too many cats but they just add a little spice to life)
7. THEY CAN HELP YOU WRITE
Bookstores are logical locales for writing workshops. This year (thanks to this web site and working on my “Coach as Educator” book) I have spent more and more time writing. There is always room for improvement. Whether it is a blog for you gym’s website or a newsletter for parents we can all improve our writing skills.
8. THEY KEEP YOU IN THE KNOW.
“Independent bookstores that are really thriving are using social media to spread the word about books and more,” says Bruce Shaw, publisher of Harvard Common Press. If you’re one of the 16,000 + twitter followers of Harvard Book Store (@harvard-books) you’re amount the first to learn about book releases, big name speakers coming to town and topics and articles that have the reading world buzzing. Get in tight with a guy like that and have an occasional tweet about an upcoming event at your gym. HUGE benefits for you!
9. THEY REWARD LOYALTY
Deep discounts aren’t just an online phenomenon. Many bookstores offer loyalty programs for repeat customers that can add up to significant savings- and you don’t have to worry about shipping fees. Do you have a loyalty program at your gym? (I don’t but as I write this I am thinking about it). Someone who signs up with us for the school year? Maybe give them a discount card to the book store and see what the bookstore can do for us.
10. THEY SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY
Bookstores tend to be very involved in the community. They support local nonprofit efforts and if I ever need to know what is going on in town, I ask Tom at Riverrun Books in Portsmouth.
10.5 THEY SELL ONLINE TOO.
We are all busy and sometimes want the books sent to us or downloaded to our e-reader.