What is your biggest challenge as a retailer in 2020?
Internet shopping and e-devices for books are big challenges for my business. It’s difficult to compete on discount prices and free shipping from Amazon. I actually have people who come into my store, take pictures of the books they want, and then look them up on Amazon! I don’t think many people still buy e-readers such as Kindles or Nooks, but now people can read books on their phones or laptops, so e-reading remains a challenge for me.
What strategies do you employ to mitigate any downsides from the internet?
The internet adversely impacts my business, but I don’t want to enter the world of online selling. It may be just stubbornness on my part, but I want to remain a brick-and-mortar business. I believe that buying a book is an interactive experience between a reader and a bookseller. I try to develop reasons for people to come to the store, rather than shop online.
Have you seen a sustained impact from recent Shop Local campaigns?
Yes, I have. People have begun to realize the necessity of thinking locally—not only on Small Business Saturday, but throughout the year.
What other trends are you seeing in retail?
Retailers are acknowledging that local shopping has to be an “experience” for customers. That experience could range from something as simple as putting out a plate of cookies, to bringing in a national author for a book signing/food event. I also think that retailers are realizing they need to support each other to keep the local movement going. PM
*Editor’s Note: Since this interview took place, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most retailers to close their doors, making a tough industry even more difficult. When we emerge from this crisis, local retailers will face all of the same challenges… and then some. Now more than ever, we must support them by shopping local.