Only three years after opening, Alamosa Books in Albuquerque, N.M., is expanding into a second location around the corner from its existing store in the city’s Northeast Heights neighborhood.
Even with 3,850 square feet in the original space, owner Elizabeth Anker said, there was not enough room for her inventory of children’s books, toys, gift items, and, unusual for a kids’ store, adult titles. “We opened in kind of a half-assed way in 2010,” said Anker, who previously was manager of children’s books at Page One in Albuquerque. “Now we’re hoping that the expansion will get us where we wanted to be originally, with our entire stock displayed properly and enough room for our gift items.” The second store, which was scheduled to open six weeks ago but was waylaid by construction delays, has 3,600 square feet and will sell YA and middle-grade books in addition to sidelines, while picture books will be housed in the original space. Both stores will carry adult titles, which Anker selects based on what she thinks teens might like to read; about 2,000 adult titles are in Alamosa’s inventory. “But you won’t find Fifty Shades of Grey here, or any erotica, for that matter. I have kids of my own,” Anker said. Kathryn Stocker’s The Help is at the top of the store’s adult bestseller list.
The store also carries a number of sidelines, Anker said. Her top sellers are the Folkmanis hand puppets and plush toys, followed by licensed items such as Dr. Seuss and Madeline. And for books, current bestsellers include Rebecca Janni’s Every Cowgirl series, illus. by Lynne Avril; The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Daniel X. Hanna; Island of Fire by Lisa McMann, The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn; and Grandma’s Santo on Its Head by Nasario García. Anker buys most of her books directly from publishers rather than wholesalers in order to get deeper discounts.
One feature new to the second location, which is separated from the original by only four storefronts, is a cafe. “When we opened in 2010 there was a coffee shop next door to us, and I was relieved we didn’t have to open a cafe,” Anker said. “But they closed, and with the expansion it just made sense to add one.” The new store will also carry gifts aimed at the teen market, such as mugs and T-shirts with faces of artists and authors on them.
Digital books haven’t cut into Alamosa’s sales at all. “The New Mexico school district can’t afford to buy iPads or other digital reading devices for its schools as other areas in the country have been able to,” Anker said, “so for the most part our customers buy print books for their kids rather than digital.” With the second store, Anker has doubled her staff to a total of 14 employees. Her sizeable e-mail list and Facebook presence has generated so much interest in the new store – which has its soft opening this weekend – that Anker will hold off on any advertising for now. “Our entire inventory for the new store has arrived,” she said, “and we’ve rented a forklift to install the new shelves over the next few days. We’ll have our grand opening the first weekend of November, when the cafe will open for business.” In the meantime, there are books to be shelved and, soon, customers to welcome.