Tag: bookshop

Bookspot of the Week: Gertrude and Alice Cafe Bookstore

What’s more perfect then finding a book or books you want to read and starting them before you even leave the store? To sit at a cafe with a book is the ideal environment for us book lovers out there.

For this week’s bookspot we are going all the way down under to Australia. We spoke to Jane Turner of Gertrude and Alice Cafe, located on 46 Hall Street, Bondi Beach NSW 2026 Australia. 

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

How did your bookstore transition from concept to reality?

In 2000, Katerina Cosgrove (co-founder) and I decided we wanted to open a cafe bookstore. It took 12 months of planning. We spent every waking hour when we weren’t working scouting possible shop locations and stockpiling 45,000 second hand books to open with. We trawled local markets, charity shops, auctions and garage sales. We lived with 100’s of boxes of books, beautiful but odd sets of china tea cups and mismatched tables & chairs that were stacked to the ceilings in our homes until we finally found our shop in Hall Street, and we opened in 2001. We are fast approaching our 20 year milestone.

 

What do you feel is unique to your bookstore?

It truly is one of a kind. People say that our shop is like their lounge room at home but without the clothes thrown everywhere!  Most other shops that have added a cafe to their business model run them as a separate entity. Our cafe bookstore is run by us. As we have been around for 20 years, many of our customers have been with us since the very beginning. We have seen babies go through school, finish their schooling and work part time for us while they complete their studies. Ella,  who works for us full time now used to visit in a pram with her Mum Jo who  is one of our biggest readers.

I love the sense of community that we have created. It would have to be the one thing that I’m most proud of. 

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

If you had infinite space, what might you add to the store?

It’s a very long list that keeps getting longer! We actually have a DA (development application) to put in a staircase and extend into the unit above us. We would love to have a bigger space to hold events, book clubs, expand our children’s section and host reading afternoons for little ones. We would love a specialist antiquarian room with big leather reading chairs and my greatest wish is to have a writer-in-residence space under the big window where we could invite people to not only be inspired to write, but be available for a short time each day to chat to other aspiring writers. It could also be an artist in residence space as well. There never seems to be enough money to get it off the ground – but I’m not giving up on my dream just yet. I believe that one day it will happen.

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

How do you feel your bookstore fits into your local community?

We have always called ourselves “a community cafe”. Part of our logo says “for the people” and so we live and breathe this mantra. We would be nothing without the support of our community each and every day  and our entire team is aware of this. We get involved in local projects whenever we can, support  schools and work on fundraisers with other local businesses . I honestly believe that we wouldn’t have been as fortunate as we have been to be in business for 20 years had we not become part of the community. My family grew up here at Bondi so it means everything to us.

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

What does your store offer that a chain or online retailer can’t?

Totally personalised and individualised service. We know your coffee, we know your name, we know what books you like to read. We know when you need a hug or a shoulder to cry on. We know when you need 5 m minutes to sit and recharge in our cosy chairs and get ready to go out and face the world again. We hold newborn babies so you can finish your breakfast. 

We have seen people that had never read a book in their life become voracious readers. As a family-owned business we are service driven and therefore our care factor is huge. We have been on the other end of the line when dealing with a chain or online businesses and believe that what we offer is everything that they don’t. 

Our customer Michelle wrote this to me recently “It means so much to have some place to go where the staff know your name, your order, a book you might like to read, to have a communal table where people come together and make a community out of strangers.  It’s food for the soul. I don’t care if I can save $5 buying it online -what you do here is priceless.” How amazing is that to have someone write something like that about what you created! A community out of strangers…wow!

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

Do you hand-pick your staff to create a specific environment?

We do. You have to be an all-rounder as working in a small team means you become multi-skilled. You have to be able to get in and do what needs to be done. Even though we work in hospitality, we don’t really have a high turnover of staff. We become like family even though it has aspects of a highly dysfunctional family at times! It helps if you read a lot. 

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

What about your store do you think appeals to your neighborhood?

It has a sense of belonging. Of place and of connection. It’s warm and cosy and welcoming. We try our best to ensure that we provide a service that keeps you coming back again and again. 

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice
Featured image via Gertrude and Alice

Amid Pandemic, Libro.fm and Bookshop.org Sales Skyrocket

Amid the current coronavirus pandemic, many people have chosen to self-quarantine and practice social distancing in efforts to stop the spread. This leaves many with newfound free time on their hands and the challenge of finding ways to entertain themselves while quarantining at home. In this quest, many have turned to reading to fill their spare time and rather than go to a bookstore to acquire these books, they can be found entirely online. 

 

Audio-bookstore, Libro.fm, and online bookstore, Bookshop.org have both seen sales skyrocket, as a result of the recent coronavirus pandemic. Both online stores collaborate with independent booksellers and return a share of sales back to them. This is in an effort to keep independent bookstores alive, especially during this time of social distancing. CEO and co-founder of Libro.fm, Mark Pearson, notes that “it has been a record breaking month for sales and new memberships.” Compared to the previous month, Pearson notes that sales for the thirty day period, which ended on March 15, were up about 150%. 

 

image via grinnell college

 

Libro.fm, which is based in Seattle, had already noticed the hit to independent bookstores in their community. In a radical move, the company altered their business model “so that affiliate bookstores get all the revenue from new membership sales until the end of the month.” Pearson notes the importance of independent booksellers stating, “if independent bookstores go under, we don’t exist.” This important measure reminds people of the value of their own community. 

 

Similarly, Bookshop.org has seen a sudden increase in the amount of bookstores signing up as affiliates. Founder Andy Hunter says, “A lot of stores opened accounts recently as an emergency measure in case they need to close up shop.” Until then, they are able to fulfill the web orders from their own shops. Bookshop.org has also seen a giant increase in sales as the coronavirus pandemic has escalated. Over the last four days, the online shop has seen a 400% increase in sales as social distancing and self-quarantining have become a widespread practice. 

 

image via venngage

While companies like Libro.fm and Bookshop.org have solved a number of societal problems during this ambiguous and secluded time, that doesn’t mean they don’t feel pressure to meet customer demands. Developers feel the pressure to make site improvements faster, and without error. For now, Hunter says that, so long as our servers stay up – we’ve checked them, and they are good – we’ll be here for bookstores.” 

Stay safe and happy reading!

 

Featured Image via Fine Art America

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book tunnel

Do the Environment a Favor and Shop at an Indie Bookstore!

Do you have a favorite bookshop? No, Barnes and Noble doesn’t count. I mean an independent bookshop, small, cosy, possibly family run. Handmade signs and questionable color schemes. Sometimes dogs. The one where you can sit for hours, enjoying your unique surroundings, and forgetting about all your responsibilities and then end up feeling horribly guilty because you’ve neglected every other aspect of your life. You’ve been missing for days. Your family has called the cops. Your plants are withering. You have several hundred unanswered emails. You know, that bookshop.

 

guilty dog

You, feeling guilty | Via Giphy

 

Well, according to Indiebound, your hours spent there are actually very beneficial to the economy, the environment, and your community. So you can stop feeling bad, as the benefits, according to the Indiebound website, are pretty much endless.

 

happy dog

You, delighted that your time-wasting has been justified | Via Gif Finder 

 

In terms of the economy, if you spend $100 at a local-owned business, $68 of that stays in your community. However, if you spent the same amount at a national chain, only $43 will remain in your community. Local businesses also create higher-paying jobs for members of the community, and therefore more taxes are reinvested in the locality. Local businesses also donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains. Indiebound also points out that ‘more independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.’

 

Shopping local also has a positive effect on the environment as it means less packaging, less transportation and therefore a smaller carbon footprint. So you win points with Mother Nature too!

 

happy pizza dog

You, slobbering happily all over the news that your indie bookshop obsession is good for the economy, environment and community | Via Tenor

 

 

That’s all on top of the fact that local bookshops tend to put on wonderful, intimate author events such as Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, who host talks and readings every week! So make sure to follow any and all of your favorite indie spots on social media to keep up to date with what they’re up to!

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Publishing Perspectives