Sometimes, like last week for instance – when the lights, internet, phone, plumbing and even the website went down at my bookstore – I wonder if owning a bookstore is really worth the time I spend worrying about it. The headaches, the chipped teeth from grinding, the lack of social life. Ok, I don’t have stellar social skills anyway, so maybe the social life isn’t so important. But I keep doing it – have been doing it for going on 10 years, for the most part loving the struggle. Embracing it. Feeling right about it.
This past year, our Alliance formed and solidified in me a focus and drive that before was an amorphous, anxious, lonely blob in my mind. Indie stores do matter. We are relevant. We’re struggling, but we didn’t do something wrong – the ground shifted under our feet. The good thing about being small is that we have the freedom to be flexible, personal, more creative, and spicier than the big guys. We can show our personalities, foibles and achievements and just be human in a way that a publicly held corporation just can’t, and humans are hungry for contact. We’re a lonely breed. That’s why even though I’m writing this on my laptop in a room by myself, I’m going to hit the “publish” button and hope that this message in a bottle reaches somebody and my small voice is heard and gives comfort or hope to the person on the other end.
I’m feeding this blog into a stream of bookseller blogs on the Alliance website because, as I’ve said before, one voice is small and quiet. Many voices are powerful and loud. I love and respect my fellow booksellers in St. Louis. I hope we can continue to build this literary community together.
Here’s to many voices.