8 Weeks In…And We’re Still Alive!
Wow! It really has been quite a while since I last wrote a blog post. I actually feel like I’m crawling out of the hole that sucked me in when we started renovating the store space 6 months ago. Yeah, we realized this evening that it’s been half a year since we started on this crazy idea of ours to open a bookstore in Downtown Sacramento.
- Over the last 8 weeks, we sold more than 1,000 books.
- We’re supporting the Cottage Foods industry by occasionally having pop-ups in the store. We’ve had some lunchtime pop-ups and weekend pop-ups. Vegan and non-vegan. Even though the vast majority of people coming in for the foods are not buying a book, we figure it’s at least letting them know that a bookstore exists in downtown Sac and to come by next time they want a book.
- Sidelines to support the books are starting to arrive. We needed to first focus on making sure we were adequately stocking our shelves with books, but now that we’re set with that, we can start to add in other fun things. I also wanted to get a feel for what other things our patrons were asking us to carry, like greeting cards. You asked, and we now have a very nice variety of cards. Coming in future shipments will be a few “gifty/kitcheny” items to support our cookbook/wine/beer section, because many of the downtown workers were wanting to be able to pick up gifts along with a book on their lunch hour. I’m working with a company to create our very own candle line that will be exclusive to us. We’re calling it Capital Scents: Where Do You Read? We’ll carry five scents to start with. The candles will be very eco-friendly in that each jar is meant to be refilled with the soy bead wax and cotton wicks that you also will be able to pick up at the store. Really excited about this! We’re also going to soon be carrying custom-designed (by us) t-shirts, coffee mugs, hats, and more tote bags, vinyl window clings, and bumper stickers.
- Author appearances will begin this week. Nervous about this. I’m just so afraid that we will have built it, but no one will come. For now, we’re selecting (mostly local) authors that we know already have a Sacramento following. In due time, we’ll build our own following.
Ross, Tom, and I are settling in and starting to forge a weekly routine and work schedule now. This means that I get one day working at home on the computer, and both Ross and I get to spend every Sunday away from the bookstore while Tom is at the helm till 2:00. The one thing that surprised both of us was how running the bookstore has consumed our lives. Sure, we expected it to be A LOT of work, but we’re working at the store until 7pm, coming home to do the computer work we couldn’t do at the store, pouring some sort of Trader Joe’s bagged meal into a pan for dinner, working till 10pm, sleeping, then doing it all over again.
How Is the Store Doing?
I’ve been asked this quite a bit lately — partly because I haven’t done my “statistics board” in several weeks. I guess you guys like seeing the numbers.
Yes, we’ve sold 1,000 books, but that doesn’t tell you, financially, how the store is doing. Basically, we need about $500 a day in sales to break even with our rent, inventory costs, and payroll for our one part-time employee (Tom). We’ve been hovering at about two-thirds of what we need. For now, that’s okay. We expected a long ramp-up for people to realize that we’re here and to start buying from us instead of ordering their books from Amazon. We have an incredible landlord who has made this ramp-up doable for us (for a while). But reality will hit in time, and our numbers will need to be at that $500 a day level. And that doesn’t even account for expanding to the second floor — which everyone is really excited for us to do. That’s going to be expensive. Like elevator expensive!
By now, people are starting to get with the “Shop Local” mentality. But we’re not quite there yet. It’s easy to say that you want to buy from locally-owned small businesses, but putting your money where your mouth is is another thing. I’m certainly guilty of it. Being tied to the store all day means I can’t get out there to shop at MY favorite small businesses in town. Everyone needs to make a conscious effort to follow the 3/50 rule: Pick three local small businesses you want to support that month and spend at least $50 at each of them.
We’re starting to get to know our regular patrons and what they enjoy reading. Your loyalty and friendship already mean the world to us. You know who you are — the ones who come in several times a week and buy books. Thank you.
In closing, we’re off to a good start. We’re here to stay as long as the community supports us. We hope that’s a good, long time. We’re committed to Sacramento’s literary community. We are betting on Sacramento supporting us.
Monthly Newsletter Sign-Up
Our “regulars” already know that we offer a loyalty program. Once you’ve purchased $100 worth of store items, you’ll receive at least a $10 credit the next time you come into the store. So, that’s certainly worth signing up for the next time you’re at Capital Books. We’ve already had a few people hit their $100 target.
I’m going to be starting a monthly emailed newsletter for those interested. I’ll discuss upcoming events at the store, books we think should be on your radar, and literary-type things. If you’d like to sign up, all we need is your name and email. We do NOT share this information with anyone outside of Capital Books.
Email can be tricky. I hate it when something I’ve signed up for lands in my Spam folder and I never know it. So, if you’re signing up, add info@CapitalBooksOnK.com to your email CONTACTS. This will help make sure it lands in your INBOX.