With Thanksgiving falling late this year, many booksellers are facing at a shorter holiday shopping season than in recent years. This means the all-important post-Thanksgiving rush will be even more for independent booksellers, who will be looking to lure shoppers away from door-buster specials at local big box stores. For most indie stories, their priority is to make the most of Small Business Saturday (SBS), the annual shopping event sponsored by American Express that encourages people to shop in local stores on the day after Black Friday. This year that takes place on November 30.
PW surveyed the members of its BXsellers Facebook group to find out how they were planning on enticing customers to stop in over this coming weekend. Kathy Burnette, owner of Brain Lair Books in South Bend, Ind., has an author coming to the store for Small Business Saturday. She added, "I had success with buy $100 gift card and get $15 free, and will do that again. This year we will also have our Brain Lair Blend coffee to taste. The same day, I have some volunteers hosting a table at a maker fair on the other side of town!"
Gift card promotions, as are discount promos, both of which encourage return visits to the store are most popular promotional items for booksellers, MaryAnne Cockle at Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska., said the store is "offering a free $5 gift card with the purchase of a $50 gift card. At Loyalty Books, which has stores in Washington D.C., the SBS promotion is buy a $10 Loyalty Books tote bag, get 10% off anything that fits inside that bag.
The Sly Fox in Virden, Ill., has opted to use Penguin's Indies First promotion of buy two Spot or Froggy books and get a corresponding free plush toy. "I've got some left over swag from Bookstore Romance Day to pair with romance books," reported owner George Rishel And the Maggie Steifvater print from Independent Bookstore Day to pair with her book. I may find other ways to add value to book purchases."
Our favorite promotion so far comes from Kathy Magruder owner of Pageturners Bookstore in Idianola, Iowa, who has thwarted the Black Friday branding in favor of something more festive: "We do Plaid Friday, offering a 20% discount on one item for each item of plaid the customer wears," she said. "Five items of plaid gets you a 20% off on five different items. Some of our regulars come in with very interesting outfits!
Christine Brenner, manager of Read With Me, A Children's Book & Art Shop in Raleigh, N.C. may have summed up the general feeling among booksellers best when she said, they'll be "just doing what we do every day!"