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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Sometimes I Am at a Loss for Words

Sarah in Arizona, 2019

Does this ever happen to you? Someone says something, and you’re absolutely dumbstruck? Only by sheer force of will do you keep your jaw from dropping to the floor! A few hours later (or maybe a day or two later), it occurs to you what you might have said, could have said, should have said, but of course the moment (along with many others) has passed.


Here’s a question that knocked me sideways the other day. A local woman who follows my blog in the winter and has for years (but hadn’t visited the bookstore since 2016 or earlier) asked me, “Do you write the blog when you’re here, too?” Huh?


-- Do I write “Books in Northport” when I’m here in Northport? Do I write about books and my bookstore during the months my bookstore is open for business, the months I’m working fulltime to make a living as an independent bookseller? Astonished, I could only answer, stupidly, “Yes." If you can believe my witlessness, it did not even occur to me to redirect by asking my questioner if she remembered the name of the blog! To be painfully honest, my mind was far too busy dwelling on the absence of any connection made by this winter blog reader between “Books in Northport” and Dog Ears Books. 

Wall behind my bookstore desk, Northport, Michigan

If I had never had a bookstore, I would not have started a blog. If I didn’t still have a bookstore, I might be writing a book by now instead of blog posts. Having at last achieved the dream of seasonal retirement, I write my winter posts from faraway, nowhere near my bookstore in the little village of Northport, but they still fall under the established "Books in Northport" umbrella because, well, this is all still my life, wherever I am. Sometimes I can’t help wondering, though, if people might not like me better when I’m not here! 


Book authors can bury themselves in their book-lined studies and close out the world, but booksellers, many (if not most) of us introverts by nature, do not have that luxury. Independent retail booksellers, that is. Booksellers with “Main Street” presences, curated collections, and community commitment. We have to keep putting ourselves out there, blowing our own horns and shaking our money-makers. It's part of the price we pay for being independent, but make no mistake -- it is a price we pay!


Crank, crank, crank! Yes, yes, I hear myself! And yes, I know just how it sounds!


Don’t worry, I do not wish for some other life. The Artist and I have been very fortunate in being able to make a good life for ourselves doing work we love, and I am deeply, deeply grateful to my loyal customers, locals and visitors, for staying with me all these years! It’s just – and you must have an occasional moment like this, don’t you? – sometimes you kind of want to bang your head against the wall and yell, “What more can I say to get my message across?”


Thanks for listening (reading). I feel better. I’m laughing at myself now. You're probably laughing at me, too, and that's okay.


Now don’t forget: Saturday is the last day of our 2020 season! And you can continue to follow our pack's adventures here on Books in Northport!!!

Ghost town mountains, Cochise County, Arizona



Deborah said...

Your followers, true believers for the most part, will follow you anywhere too.

P. J. Grath said...

Deborah, you made me laugh again! Laughing is good! Thank you!

Barbara Stark-Nemon said...

As has been true often in the past, Deborah has it exactly right!

P. J. Grath said...

Barbara, I do know who my friends and supporters are! xxxooo!!!

BB-Idaho said...

I'm kind of shamefaced. You are in my 'favorites' and it is listed
clearly as 'Books in Norhtport'. But if someone were to ask me, I would have to look it up. But you are in good company, for at my age
memory is an iffy commodity: a couple of days back, I could not remember the distinguished SCOTUS judge that passed away. Really!
The Mrs. said, "You mean RGB?"..and of course the full name came back. I support local business as much as I can, and they are having hard times. In terms of sales, what percent of yours are local, mail order, tourist? Forgetting names: as a HS freshmen, our English teacher told a (what was to him) a joke. A kid had to take an oral
exam on famous leaders, so he slipped notes into the sleeve of his
suit coat. The first question was "who were the three great leaders
at the Treaty of Versailles? The kid confidently peeked into his jacket and named Hart, Schaffner & Marx. No one laughed, the teacher was flustered and we young ones had to go home and find out that there was other clothing besides Levis. Now repeat to myself 10 times, "Books In Northport...

P. J. Grath said...

Bob, you are forgiven! You are out in Idaho, for Pete's sake! If you were IN Northport, it would be different.

Yes, it IS hard times for brick-and-mortar businesses. Not that you asked (and I appreciate people who keep their curiosity in check, so thanks for that, too), my gross sales this year are way down, and not only because I've been open only four months, either, because only ONE of those months (September, oddly enough) matched last year's sales figures. July, August, and October are all way down.

The other truth of the matter, one that has held every year I've been in business, is that staying open into the winter would not solve the problem. Because our little village is so quiet in the winter, and also because our living expenses (heating, plowing) would be so much higher, I could work a longer year for what would come out as a net loss.

I can relate to the forgetting of names. How about the question we ask each other in our house more and more as time goes by: "Did so-and-so die?" Ah, yes, R.I.P. RBG!