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February 26, 2010

Brave the Snow: Support Your Local Bookstore

Posted by webmaster
Today's guest blogger and bookseller Jamie Layton tells us how bad the snow is for local independent stores of all kinds and asks you to help them weather the storm.

Let it snow, make it go, oh NO!

It seems “snow” is the four letter word that best describes February 2010. With accumulated amounts ranging from 24 to 50 plus inches across large portions of the mid-Atlantic region and the northeast, there really doesn’t seem to be another word that better sums up the last month. Word has traveled via Facebook of friends snowed in first for a long weekend then, after a few days hiatus, for almost another week. Schools are scrambling to make up snow days and even down here we’re scrambling to make up a ‘wind event’ day, the Outer Banks equivalent of a northern snow day.

While the grocery and big box stores made out just fine with sales precipitated by a flurry of pre- and post-blizzard pantry stocking, a lot of small independent businesses out there got socked pretty hard by all the wintry weather.

Here at the beach, for example, we usually anticipate and experience a strong Valentine’s/President’s Day weekend. Lots of people take advantage of the three day weekend to get away for a little winter beach respite. A lot of restaurants and businesses that close for a few months over the winter season actually open up especially for that weekend and the traffic it brings. Unfortunately for us, the northern snow still had a lot of people either stuck at home or who found that just trying to get around the neighborhood enough of an adventure for the weekend.

In the blizzard plagued areas many local businesses were completely shuttered by the storms and are now struggling to somehow make up for them. A small business is much more immediately affected by a few days of lost sales than a chain or franchise and in this economy, and during a traditionally slower season such as winter, they can be left reeling by Mother Nature’s non-business friendly attitude.

So as drifts recede and hopes for spring eternal rise, please make a little extra effort to patronize your local businesses. Sure, you could still order books online even when you couldn’t get the car out of the driveway for three days, but is there anybody there who knows your reading tastes and can suggest a good book when you tell them ‘I just loved The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’? And even though the chain grocery store might have a good deal on flowers, isn’t there a local florist in your neighborhood for whom even the small purchase of ten dollars worth of tulips means quite a bit more? Choose the corner coffee shop for your Sunday morning latte instead of 'that other place' and you might pleasantly discover that all lattes are not created equal (nor do they all cost five bucks).

These local business owners are your neighbors, possibly your friends, and it is a documented fact that they contribute way more to your local economy than any chain or big box enterprise and, conversely, were hurt much more by the recent winter wonderland.

I realize as I write this that the forecast calls for yet more snow in some regions. But there’s one more weekend left in February for indy businesses to try and salvage something from this disastrous month. Please bundle up, pull on your mittens, get out there this weekend and make your planned (or impulse!) purchases local. Each person who walks through the door helps us weather the storm.

--Jamie Layton, Duck's Cottage, Duck, NC