Our 5th anniversary was on October 30, 2022! We use the Abebooks statement “seller since October 30, 2017”, as our birth date. We sold our first book on April 18, 2018 “Michelangelo” off to NYC for US$50.
We continue to get compliments on both the business name and logo from clients and others. And this praise rightly belongs to son, Gregory, and daughter-in-law, Maria. This was their work. To quote from a client in NYC “Smart-looking business card ,too!”. And this person is the head of the impressionist department at Christie’s. I passed this compliment to Gregory and Maria, right away. We did the Christmas at the Forum show last week and one shopper looked at the logo and said “How beautiful!” and took a picture of the banner. As I handed her a copy of our business card, featuring the logo, I thanked her and said “it was the creation of my son and his wife” – I could never take credit for it.
I used to tell people that we sell primarily on the internet. This is no longer the situation. We have clients who have bought from us on 3 or more occasions. And every single person who has visited our Hackett’s Cove bookshop has bought something. (still the case!)
From the 3rd Anniversary Musing (November 21, 2020)
Last year, I talked about our successful foray into the local marketplace, at both the Tantallon Farmers’ Market and at the Scarecrow Festival, in Mahone Bay. Those events were non- existent, in this plague infested 2020. Christmas at the Forum has morphed into a format that doesn’t work for us this year.
To quote from last year’s musing “I used to tell people that we sell primarily on the internet. This is no longer the situation. Because of COVID-19 we are back to selling primarily on the internet.
While internet sales are great, I miss the interaction with booklovers at the fairs and in our shop. Hopefully, when we celebrate our 4th anniversary, I can once again say that we do not sell primarily on the internet!
Well, I wish that I could say that we don’t sell primarily on the internet, but this is still the case. In fact, our sales were up this past year without the fairs and in-person buying due to strength of the internet sales. People have been stuck at home all over the world, and we have been sending books all over the world during the pandemic. People are stuck at home.
We were hopeful that the Halifax Christmas at The Forum would be able to accommodate antique dealers and a bookseller this year, but not the case. Maybe next year.
A highlight in our second year was having a booth at the Scarecrow Festival in Mahone Bay. It was cancelled in 2020, and I was disheartened to get an e-mail from the organizers that it was not going to happen in 2021.
So, it looked like a complete event shut out for 2021. Then, in late August, we got an update from the Scarecrow Festival folks that a local antique dealer, Brindle Boston Antiques in Blockhouse, would run the Antique Fair over the last weekend in September. I couldn’t sign up fast enough!
Hopefully Year 5, will see a repeat of the Mahone Bay event, a return to Christmas at the Forum, and maybe something else.
Our 5th Anniversary
We still sell primarily on the internet! But it is unpredictable. Sometimes you are in a pattern of an order every couple of weeks. But they do seem to come in bunches – a quiet time and then two orders in a week. We set a record in early July 2022 – five orders in three days for almost $1,000. And then back to the routine. But as of this moment, the last internet order was on October 4 – five weeks ago! There really is no pattern, someone is looking for a specific book, they choose yours and we get an order. We now have over 600 books listed on the internet and the good thing is they never get stale or dated. Over the past year we have received orders for books that were posted four or five years ago. We put books up on the internet and then the wait game kicks in.
The biggest frustration is attracting customers to visit our shop. We are out of the way and more and more bookstores are closing so people turn to the internet, but we just have to figure out a way to get people to come and browse – since we have a 100% record of selling books to visitors.
As noted in last years, 4th Anniversary musing we were looking forward to doing both the Mahone Bay Scarecrow Festival in September and Christmas at the Forum the first week in November.
We were registered for the Scarecrow event. I was lugging books up to the garage ready to load up and in comes Fiona the day we were to set up our booth. CANCELLED. What a disappointment but what can you do.
The last time we did Christmas at the Forum, in Halifax by the way, was in 2019. The sales were not great, under $400, but we got some really good book buying leads, which is the most profitable side of doing fairs.
But we have gotten smarter about how to sell at the fairs. We usually have 3 tables, covered in green felt, plus a tall bookcase. We now know that the highest price point should be $60 so we leave the more expensive books home. No novels. What sells are flashy books, bright colours and very attractive dust jackets, that grab people’s attention as they stroll by. And people don’t buy books from the bookcase. So we have come to the conclusion that books in the bookcase are like back room inventory – we sell a book from the tables and we go to the bookcase to find a replacement book. We also put books in clusters, so at the Christmas at the Forum show, we had groupings for military, entertainment, artists, Nova Scotia items, sports, and indigenous books, amongst others.
I have also come to realize that people like to dicker, and I am fine with that. So, the $60 dollar books sells for $50. The trick is knowing when to make the offer or not. I must charge 5% HST on books but I do not ask for it anymore. I put in the HST amount at the end of the show. Keep it simple and stay with round amounts.
We used to use The Square at shows so we could take debit and credit cards. But our machine went into hibernation during the Covid-19 years, and I could not get it functioning again. At the Scarecrow Festival last year, we were cash only and that was fine. At Christmas at the Forum, I decided to go with cash and Interac e-transfer. The latter was at best a learning experience. Most customers could not access the Wi-Fi network and if they could it was laborious to set Raven & Gryphon Fine Books up as a recipient. And we got scammed out of two books on a false transfer. Lessons learned. We learn more from every fair. Back to the Square.
I keep referring to we. While my wife Glenda, co-owner of Raven & Gryphon Fine Books, has
accompanied me early on, my faithful companion on almost all shows is my good friend Gary Humphries. Carting books around is not easy, and he has been fabulous.
So, how did we do at the Big Show. No book buying leads, that was disappointing. But I had arranged to get another table, so we had 4 tables laden with attractive books. At the start of the fair, I said to Gary – Let’s target $1,000 for a very successful event. We made our number.
And we had the most attractive cash box in the whole place!
Thank you for reading my musings and special thanks to Glenda, Gary and Renée, who looks
after the marketing side of things including the website.