Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year 2010 in Review, Bookstore Style

Well, we've been a bit remiss about the blog lately. But the reason is a good one: we've been so fantastically busy with the holiday season that there really hasn't been a dull moment in which to blog. I thought this would be a good time to take a look back on how the store has changed in the last year. You know how fast a year can go by, so that it's hard to really encapsulate everything that's happened to you? That's how I feel about the year at the store. We've tried so many new things and changed the store layout several times- you learn a lot the first year in a new location about the flow of the store and what people are looking for.
So, here are just some of the many highlights from Old Firehouse Books in 2010. We started two new book clubs, one for mysteries and one for nonfiction. They join our Open Book, Untitled, and science fiction book clubs. These clubs are always open to anyone who cares to come- you just have to read the book! (Hint, hint, for those who have resolved to meet new people/read more/ just generally enrich their lives in the new year.) I got to unleash my inner chef in several different food-related events at the store: we partnered twice with our wonderful neighbors, Happy Lucky's Teahouse, in a high tea and a tea and cookies event, worked with Equinox Brewery for our BBQ and Beer event, and with 10,00o Villages in an event centered around the book Hungry Planet. I hope to do more food events next year- they are lots of fun. In other event news, we got to host some incredible authors in the last year, including C.J. Box (one of the nicest guys EVER), Craig Johnson, Laura Resau (a Fort Collins treasure), Margaret Coel, the outstanding science fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi, and the fabulous Connie Willis. I feel so fortunate to have met some of the best writers of our day. And that doesn't even include our partnership with the library to host signings by leading lights such as J.A. Jance, Pam Houston, and Jonathan Shors. In other writerly events, we sold books at the Northern Colorado Writers' conference last spring. We also worked with Fort Collins Reads to help bring Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, to Fort Collins in November. Working with Fort Collins Reads is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my job.
What else did we do? I got to hold several talkbacks at Openstage Theater plays, leading question and answers sessions for the cast after a production. I get to do this a couple of times next year as well. We hosted NANORIMO writers in November- a lovely bunch, if I do say so myself. And we held our 30th/10th/1st year anniversary party in June. In case that's confusing, its 30 years as a store/10 years with current ownership/1 year at our current location. And we said goodbye to some well-loved and much-missed staff members: Tegan, Bonner, Kara, Paxton. They are really irreplaceable, but we were also extremely fortunate in our crop of new employees: Tara, Keller, Nathan, Beth, Elizabeth, and Cam. And we have our veteran staffers Revati and Kelsey helping us maintain our high standards.
Physically, the store changed a lot this year. We moved the trade counter from the second room into the third room for easier access through the alley. We're also extremely happy that the alley construction, which took all summer, is now finished. We expect much traffic through our back door next summer. The biggest change has been the addition of our events space in the back of the store. I don't know how we managed without this space before. We've used it for everything from author events to art shows in the last year. Just last month we changed how our front desk is oriented in the store, and are still getting compliments about that change.
My goals for the last year were to increase the caliber and quantity of our events, which we've done, and do a thorough inventory of the store, which we've managed. In the following year, my goals for the store are to streamline our book returns process (books can only stay on the shelf without selling for so long), and to take another look at our credit policy. Plus I'm always brainstorming about moving sections around so they make more sense.
It's now hard to remember what it was like back at our old location on South College. We essentially started over again when we moved the store- everything is so different downtown. But we love where we are, and wouldn't change it. We've had a steep learning curve, and we couldn't have done it without the support of our customers, who have been patient when books were moved from where they expected and gracious with all the foibles that running an indie book store can bring. Fort Collins truly has an amazing base of people who are willing to support local businesses, even when the strictly pocketbook thing to do is shop at the big places or online. We do our best to make our store valuable to the community, with great book recommendations, awesome events, and partnerships with community organizations. But our customers are our greatest treasure. I hope you had fun picking out books at the store in 2010 and that we'll see you some more in 2011. We plan to be here for many years to come, and you make it all possible.

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