August Middlebury [Vermont] Arts Walk

Had a very busy week last week. A lot of new used books coming in (and going out!) so I’m behind in promoting the August Arts Walk. A day late…but better late than never, right?

Continuing with the theme I set for 2014, Celebrating Words!, I chose an artist who I found on Etsy, Rachel Gertrude who is all the way from California. Rachel attracted me because of her use of colors, her style and that she produces postcards. Rachel enhances her work with sayings that seem to fit with all that’s going in the world today. To take a step back and appreciate life and the living. I love her work. You can see more of it at her shop, www.etsy.com/shop/rachelgertrude.

Here is the display I set up to promote her work:

1-photo(117) 1-photo(119)1-photo 4(4) 1-photo 3(5) 1-photo 2(12) 1-photo 1(13)1-photo(118)I’ll leave you with a quote from Rachel, which I love: “How we live is just as important of a creative mark as our latest painting or whatever it is we’re doing.”

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Otter Updates

We’ve been very busy in the store! So many books have come in so most of the time it’s been going through them – SPS (sorting, pricing, shelving).

1-photo(109)1-photo(106)1-photo(108)Slow and steady. Civil War to local authors and fiction and a lot of others sprinkled in. Come in and check them out. Surely something will catch your eye.

Last Friday – July 11, 2014 – was the Middlebury Arts Walk. The artist was Hannah Harding-Minton (SCAD ’05). Below is a sampling of her work keeping to our store’s theme of Words.

Hannah Harding Minton 1Hannah Harding Minton 2Hannah Harding Minton 3

Hope your summer is going as great as ours. We’ve a great selection of good summer reads. Stop in and peruse or at least stop in to say hi! Enjoy!

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June Middlebury Arts Walk – Featuring beanforest

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beanforest logo

For the June 2014 Middlebury Arts Walk the store is featuring button art by artist, Vince of beanforest. All the way from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Keeping with the theme I set for 2014: Celebrate Words. Dozens of wearable buttons spouting all sorts of thoughts relating to books, authors, reading, literature, etc.

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sampling of beanforest buttons

A little info about Vince: In elementary school, he often got in trouble for laughing at inappropriate times. In middle school, he often told failed jokes that were met with confused silence. His sense of humor finally balanced out somehow in high school. He enjoys writing, drawing, mixing metaphors, biking, meeting people, reading, anticipating the break in electronic dance music, anomalies, and dozens of thousands of other things, Writing in the third person distresses him.

All button orders are stamped by hand either by Vince or a friend, and with the exception of classic literature quotes in the public domain (Shakespeare, Melville, etc.), all artwork and phrases are original, written and designed by him. He offers so much more than what I chose as I kept to the theme of a bookstore.

You can find Vince (as I did!) on etsy.com or through his art/comic blog at jankybeanforest.blogspot.com.

My favorite button? “hell ya, helvetica!” For its randomness.

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June 2014 Middlebury Arts Walk display featuring beanforest

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So my friend goes to Paris…

and, of course, he goes to Shakespeare & Company (twice!). He so nicely brought me a gift.

Perfect! Right?  And no, I won’t sell it. Promise! (Yes, I’ve been known to sell my daughter’s books as I’m reading them in the bookstore. Sorry, Hannah…) It’s definitely a book that goes home with me. Thanks, Bill!

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“Paris in May” and the May Arts Walk Celebrating “Words through Art”

Lots going on in here! And of course…there’s always the used books…

paris2Paris in May! Celebrating all that’s French. Particularly Paris. Why? Why not?  Read my previous post to catch-up, if you want. Shakespeare & Co. is the focal point and acknowledging Sylvia Beach and George Whitman, Paris and France. All in good fun. And please note the cherry blossom branch in the front window. I made them. And kinda proud that I came up with idea. You see, if I’m not reading I’m embroidering. Making up or adapting designs. So here’s to Paris!

Middlebury Arts Walk! Happening this Friday night, May 9, 5-7pm. Stop by. The theme for 2014 in the store is Words. I’m pretty excited about it. Words in many forms. For Friday night the featured artist is Nancy Scarcello, a self-taught artist, photographer, picture framer, drum maker and set designer from Florence, VT. She’s also a writer and a lover of words (:-)), a sign painter for many years, so creating with words is a melding of her two favorite things, arts and words which is also a vehicle for her to put her universal message out into the world. Perfect for celebrating Words!

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“Heaven is a place with books and cherry trees,” Shakespeare and Company. (From a 2014 email they sent me!)

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I’m a Used Bookstore Nerd – Shakespeare & Co.

Before I get into that I want to report that I had so much fun at the Sustainable Living Expo 2014 held Mar 29. A few people came up to the booth asking why there was a library at the Expo. My response, “mmmm….well, I represent my store, Otter Creek Used Books, and selling a sampling of our books.” Sales were great.

So being a used bookstore nerd…

Paris1931Those who know me, know my infatuation with Shakespeare & Co. I ‘connected’ with Sylvia Beach when I read about her life as a bookseller in Paris. Her story was one of persistence, courage, and skill. What a thrill to have been in Paris during her time. Not so much during the Nazi takeover but for the authors that frequented her shop. The books, the conversations… I know it was hard work for her. In my simple life I get how much busier she had to be to maintain the store’s existence and her quest to helping out struggling writers.

I have a customer who has become a good friend and a great supporter of my efforts here. He’s always coming in with ideas to help increase exposure, customers and sales. He gets the business. Used bookstores and retail. Some ideas are helpful. Some are good intentions. Some I wish I had the money at hand to take on. I take them all seriously and mull them over to see if they are viable for me. (Which comes down to no costs.) His latest was an easy one. Paris In May. Celebrating all that is French during May. Still working out ideas but one that I said I could easily do was contact Shakespeare & Company. Of course I had no idea what I’d write about or what I was asking for or  expecting. But writing was easy. Until I sat down at my computer to type out an email. But I wrote I wasn’t sure what I was asking or thinking of but was hoping for some sort of connection. I guess. And to serve as an intro to Bill and his friend who will be heading over to Paris soon. Including hoping he’d buy something and bring back a receipt.  (Of course he has to now.)  So I clicked “send” and off went the email. Really not expecting much. But lo and behold! a few days later I got a response.

Here I am this small used bookstore. A pin dot in the map of the world. Receiving a return email from THE used bookstore in the world – to me, that is. They read my blog. Those who know me know that I get uncomfortable when people tell me they read this but when I read their email I was excited and honored. They admired my perseverance and devotion to books. And I touched them all. They wrote that! They mentioned my move and the photos of the space here in the Marble Works and that we (as booksellers) and books need light and how it looks so warm and welcoming.  Then they wrote about not waiting for Bill to bring me back something but was sending me a parcel. And they did. Here is what I received:

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George Whitman must have been an amazing bookseller. Definitely. He picked up where Sylvia Beach had left off. His visiting authors were Lawrence Durrell! Styron, Henry Miller, Saroyan, James Baldwin! Oh my, his list is just as long as impressive. I’ve been devouring the book photos and pulling out ideas to try out in the store: Mirror of Love, for instance, and a writer’s nook but of course, more reflective of this store. Pity the next customer who buys Dostoevky’s The Idiot! :)

His daughter, Sylvia is now taking over the store. And yes, she is named after THE Sylvia. And is currently working on the history of the store as well as managing the store in her father’s absence. And she is gaining in fame with her impressive list of modern authors.

“Heaven is a place with books and cherry trees,” was their last sentence in their email response to me. Doesn’t that just conjure a beautiful image? I don’t have a cherry tree – yet – but I’m working on one in my fashion that will be ready for May.

“Books are works of the imagination, aren’t they? So, a bookshop should reflect the imagination,” George Whitman (1913-2011), Shakespeare & Co, Paris.

That is my motivator.

 

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OCUB @ Sustainable Living Expo 2014

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Otter Creek Used Books will be at this show, March 29th. And looking forward to it. Used books fit right into this philosophy.

Look for Hannah in the gym, booth #M43.  She’ll have oodles of books available for sale from solar building, ecology, farming, herbs and gardening, spirituality, self-sufficiency, vegan cookbooks, to building and repairing houses. The list goes on and on.

I’ll be in the store selling what doesn’t go to the Expo.

Should be a good show. Check it out!

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21st Annual Vermont Book & Ephemera Fair

VABA 2014

Check out this event!  Many of your favorite Vermont used bookstores will be there. All together under one roof! So much fun and so much to see: Nancy Drew to books from
the 1600s, stock certificates from the 1800s, to postcards from the 1900s. Something for every interest and price range. Also several local historical groups and bookbinders will have displays. Admission is (still!) only $5 with children under 16 free. For more information check out the website www.VermontIsBookCountry.com

Unfortunately, I won’t be there. My husband surprised me with a little trip as he knew I (we) needed a break. Thank you, dear! I’ll be away Mar 23-26. Though I won’t be at the VABA book fair I will be at the Sustainable Living Expo 2014 that will be held March 29 in Middlebury. For information on that visit this site: acornvt.org/sle2014. I’ll also post about it when I return.

Hannah and Grey will keep the store open while I’m away but hours will be shorten to the afternoon – 1-5 pm to accommodate Grey’s nap schedule. They’ll be in when he wakes up.  Ah, the life of a two-year old, huh?

 

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Otterly Rambles

ocub_blocksSo much for New Year resolutions! That’s all I’m going to say about that. The year has so far been very good to the store. I’ve been busy with SPS – sorting, pricing, shelving. That is what my time has been taken up with. No complaints here!

In between all my store busyness, I’ve also been thinking of what to write about. Have I covered all there is about owning a used bookstore? No. But I don’t want to nag about stuff. I don’t want to complain about things. I want to be positive and let go some of the weirdness. Some things are just not meant to be written about. Like what? Like how I sweep the floor every day, mop as needed – careful around the books piled on the floor. I like the vision of walking into the store and noticing a clean floor in the Big Yellow Room. The light reflecting in through the windows. It gives a cozy feel between the bookcases. To not forget to water the plants. That kind of stuff. Also rearranging shelves displaying books and nicknacks. To make it interesting to regular customers always looking for what’s new.

I’ve also given myself permission to read during open store hours. What??? Seriously that was hard to do. I always felt I had to appear busy doing something. I have no idea why. Maybe I just don’t want people to think I sit around all day. Well, I’m not sitting all the time. My in-the-store book I’m reading is George Orwell’s,  Keep the Aspidistra Flying. More on the book later.

Currently I’ve been working on a literary tour of Addison County, Vermont. I did two guides while employed at the Addison County Chamber of Commerce – Mid Vermont Heritage Guide. Working on a take-off of them. It’s a lot of research and a lotta fun.  Check it out. There is a link of the beginning stage at the top of the page. It is a work in progress.  A lot of info is missing including links but they’ll be coming. And photos. Let me know what you think and what needs to be added. Suggestions are encouraged. Part of the process.

Thanks!

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Meeting 2014 Head On!

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Hard to believe but here is 2014. I never do resolutions but this year I’m so into it. Thought I’d share some of what I’ve written down with the store in mind:

  • More bookcases!
  • More shelves!
  • More postings
  • More books online
  • More photos
  • More creativity

I think you get where I’m coming from. More! And it’s not pressure I’m putting on myself but getting totally back involved in the store. I’ve got all these ideas swirling in my head so with the new year it’s time I get those ideas out of the head and into the store. I can easily get bogged down with boxes of books so I’m trying to, I guess, have more fun and letting go. Giving myself permission to not work so hard (sorting, pricing, shelving) but enjoy what I have – an amazing used bookstore. Probably it’s more amazing that I own a used bookstore.

And I want to post interesting books that come in so you see what my inventory is like. Especially since this website is still a blog. Like this book, “Flowers: Their Origins, Shapes, Perfumes & Colours” by J. E. Taylor, Ph.D., F.L.S. Published by John Grant, Edinburgh, 1906, fourth edition:

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And a quote from the book: “Numbers of hard-working men and women, wearied with brain as well as manual labour, are learning to restore their lowered energies by such country outings as the pursuit of natural science involves. Every day we are proving that “man liveth not by bread alone”; and that sunny blue skies, laughing streams, and flower-bedecked fields are full of lofty and even spiritual teachings.”

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