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Publishers Weekly Bookselling

Customers Enliven Window Display
Sam Weller -- 2/14/00

Trudy Barash, owner of Canterbury Booksellers in Madison, Wis., decided she could strike her mall and online competition where they were lacking by taking advantage of her window display area. She hit upon the idea of enlivening her window with live customers.

E-mailing more than 1,000 people on her mailing list, Barash put out a call for live models to sit in her shop's cozy picture window and read a book for two hours. She also encouraged folks to bring props along: pajamas, fuzzy slippers, bathrobes, pillows, teddy bears. Some of Barash's staff thought she was nuts. Quickly, they were proven wrong. Within two days, Barash had received 127 responses. Between the key holiday shopping period of the day after Thanksgiving all the way through Christmas, Canterbury Booksellers window was, well, booked.

"The response was amazing," said Barash, who noticed an increase in foot traffic and walk-in customers as customers started reading in the window. "This will definitely become an annual tradition. We're in an area where the suburbs have become so built up that we're trying very hard to draw people to us. So you try to think of anything you can."

Barash rewarded her window models with $10 gift certificates. She gave them the option of donating their certificates to either the Boys and Girls Club of Dade County or the Urban League of Greater Madison. Two-thirds of the readers donated their earnings.

"It was a terrific experience," said customer Dick Schultz, who read in the display with his wife, Nancy. Schultz and his wife donned Santa hats for the event. "People smiled and waved at us. It was just great."
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