Tag Archives: small business management

Look What They’re Doing in Portugal!

On Saturday Jack and I got a message from a bookseller in Portugal:

Dear Wendy Welch and dear Jack Beck,
My name is Inês and I’m from Portugal. I stumbled upon your book 2 days ago and I’m already in love with your little bookshop. I’m in the middle of the book and already I have cried and laughed, and had goose bumps… it’s so nice to see that you are doing so well in there! I’m so proud of you and I haven’t met you (yet!!!… ’cause I’m telling you, one day I’ll visit you! I need to see you with my own eyes! hahaha)
I too work at a little bookshop at a little town called Sines, I don’t own the bookshop, but my boss is a dear friend of mine. I’m always trying to come up with ideias to bring new customers here…
Read Wendy’s words has given me strenght and hope! We can do this! And I’m writing this simple message (with my bad english) just to thank you guys, for inspiring people, there, and obviously, like me… all around the world where the book has been sold.
Best wishes and a warm hug, Inês Espada

So of course now we’re in love with Ines, and in short order her boss; another bookseller named Luis, an activist from another town; the bookshop she works in; and her mom became Facebook friends of Jack and me and had liked our store (as we did theirs). But the cool thing, aside from just being happy to meet booksellers from another country, is to find that in Portugal indie bookstores have banded together in ways that really create a supportive community between them. Here’s some additional info Ines sent Sunday:

Luis is a dear friend of mine! he’s a book seller, and a great fighter of our cause. He’s always sharing information about bookstores and he created an event every year at the last sunday of march we have a booksellers meeting where we can discuss all the things that are happening around our book world. And now we have created a diploma to honor the great booksellers we have. With the big online shops selling books, it’s been difficult to us to combat the low prices that they have… It has been a struggle for some little bookstores, many have closed… but we have our motto, something like this: “Isto não fica assim!” The translation must be something like “we can do it” or “this will not end here!”



    I was looking at our blog, the blog we use for the anual meeting, and I really want to show you, but it’s all in portuguese, you can try to read some of the things using google translate, but I’m gonna propose we do an english version. the diploma is called “Livreiros da Esperança” – Booksellers of Hope for booksellers that never stopped believing in books! Just like you! this year the diploma goes to a couple that have a bookstore at Setúbal for more than 40 years. You can see them in the photos at the blog http://encontrolivreiro.blogspot.pt/


Filed under book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, publishing, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing

Pottering Happily About

This morning I woke up at home, next to Jack, with two cats piled atop me and a dog jackknifed against my knees. Crooked sleep under my own duvet…. {blissful sigh}.

Shopsitter Andrew’s parents arrived unexpectedly last night–you should have seen that lad’s face–so we gave him the day off to run about and see the bright light of Wise County. (There’s a new traffic light on the four-lane.)

Jack had prison visits this morning with the Quaker ministry, so that left me in the bookstore with its pristine shelves Andrew’s been sorting day by day, and some odd jobs we never bothered to show him because they don’t come up that often.

With gusto, I tied my hair back and tackled the list: rolling coins from the change drawer; investigating the odd smell coming from one corner of the mystery room (an air freshener had fallen behind a shelf and gone septic); gathering all the odds and ends of crackers and cookies into the bread tin. Jack and I live above the shop, so one half of our downstairs kitchen is bookstore, the other half functioning as a staff room with fridge and microwave. Imagine if the public could see your staff room. :[

In short, I reveled in the quiet pottering of a nesting bird, re-establishing herself on home turf. Bookstore, sweet bookstore, and it’s all mine–well, mine and Jack’s, and now part Andrew’s too, bless the boy. (He’s 27; I’m only calling him a boy for poetic purposes.)

One of the things people have asked about, on the book tour, is what it’s like to own a bookshop. Over and over again I found myself describing a theme that recurs in the book and in our lives: not renting inside one’s own skin. The bookstores we are visiting are independent ones, like ours, for the most part. They don’t have corporate manuals that tell you how things are done. The problems, the challenges, running out of shelf space and trying to find a way to categorize a particular book and figuring out the best use of your limited wall display area, etc.: all these belong to you.

Sometimes I wonder if Americans are taught to despise smallness, not intentionally, just in the daily messages we absorb. We’re encouraged to lead big, “Madmen” kind of lives, vying for the top of the food chain, ladder, whatever.

But let me tell you, there is nothing like rolling the change you collected one customer at a time, from people whose names and reading tastes you know, and putting their dirty coffee cups in the dishwasher after they’ve left, in the bookstore you own. Living large comes in many forms, and some lives– like the Tardises of Dr. Who fame– are larger inside than they appear at a glance.
My day is passing in a contented haze of small chores that will keep our shop cozy and functional.

It don’t get no better’n this.




Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA