Friday, April 26, 2013

POP - Store Design: Jan's Paperbacks Store Remodel & Open House

Morgan here with the second part of our interview with Debbie Burke, owner of the independent bookstore, Jan’s Paperbacks and the 2012 Romantic Times Bookseller of the Year.
Debbie is also a member of the Portland Area Used Booksellers Association, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Association, Rose City Romance Writers and last but not least Romance Writers of America.
Large and simple signs convey clear messages.

 Morgan (M): What are some of the things that you do to draw people to your store?
Debbie Burke (DB):  We have a newsletter that we published through Mail Chimp.  In fact Kat Martin saw one of our newsletters and contacted us saying, “How can I advertise in your newsletter?”  We said, “Write whatever you want and we’ll publish it.”  That’s another thing we would like to publicize, the more author input we have for our newsletter, the more the customers are going to love it because it is direct information from the author and it’s also free advertisement.  They just have to give us the information.  And it is real easy to add pictures.  We also advertise upcoming events and books signings on our website.  
Our biggest and most successful venture is Social Media.  We advertise on Facebook.  For $10 {USD} you can have a marketing campaign.  It’s pay per click.  You set how much money you want to spend, like say $20 {USD}, and it will stop when you hit $20 {USD}.  Plus you get all of the analytics to track your results. 
I also join anything that doesn’t cost a lot, the more I spread my name around the better plus when I am  trying to get someone to do something for me it is always helpful if you can let them know that you belong to the same organization, that type of thing.  There are also newsletters and other info associated with these organizations so you can stay on top of what is going on.
M: What were some of the thoughts that went into your new store design?
Featured Local Authors
DB: Our goal was to organize everything so that books could be easily found.  We don’t want people to have to do a lot of searching.  The old store design had shelves that were high and the signage was fairly small and not as noticeable.  So now we have bigger signs and more signs.  We added shelf tags that tell you which section you are in and the letter of the alphabet you are in within that section.   I can’t take credit for that.  That was my daughter’s brain child and the customers are loving it!  Before, we had author names on the shelves and customers didn’t realize that there were other authors’ books between those names.  Now we just use alphabetical tags.  Signage needs to be quite specific to guide customers.
M: Plentiful and simple, right?  We tell people all the time to keep it simple. Focus on the book you are promoting and don’t put too much ‘stuff’ on your signs.
DB: Right!  Keep it simple. I put up more signs to help guide people to the books they want.  There are some people that are reluctant to ask for help.  And there are others who will ask regardless of how much signage you have up.  If there is too much on the sign, and this goes for flyers as well people won’t read the whole thing.  Go figure, readers who don’t read.
M: Who is your ideal customer?  Who are you targeting?
DB: The avid reader. <laughs>  And kids, because they are our future customers.  If kids aren’t going to read today, then we aren’t going to have any customers tomorrow.
M: How long did the store makeover take?
The Marvelles among the tall
bookcases in the old store design.
DB: We started planning in December 2012.  And we started the actual construction on 09 February, 2013 and it took us two weeks.  We closed one Sunday to get the outer walls done and the rest of it we tackled one section at a time.  We did the work at night.
M: Wow! That was really fast to turn a whole store. 
DB: And it was a pretty dramatic change.
M: Yes! I see what you mean about people asking about the lighting.  The whole space is brighter and more open.
DB: Now you can see all the way across the store from one end to the other.  There was another bookseller that, unfortunately, went out of business.  So we were able to purchase quite a few of the store fixtures and shelves.  Our old shelves were recycled to make the lower, four sided shelves.  The lower shelves open up the space and the lights seem brighter.  Plus, the tops of the shorter shelves create center islands for more displays and merchandising.
Shorter shelves. Now you can see all the way
 across the store.
M: I always thought that the store ended at the wall.  I thought the other room contained your offices.
DB: Oh no, in the second room we have our erotica and paranormal.  Some of the sections have been in the same place since the store opened.
M: When did Jan’s Paperbacks open?
DB: March 1981.
M: When did you take ownership?
DB: January 2000.
M: So what are some of the things that you still want to do with the store?  What is your vision?
DB: Nothing.  I have done everything that I envisioned doing with it.  The remodel was the end of it.  The only thing to work on now is just getting the website profitable.  Now, we’ll see if we can stay in business as long as possible.  My daughter wants to take it over when I retire, but I’ll never retire.  I will still come in and ‘play’ bookstore when she takes over. <laughs>  On my own schedule of course.
M: Debbie, thanks so much for your time.  I’m sure our readers will appreciate your perspective and insights.  And thanks for your continued support of local authors, The Rose City Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, and RT Book Reviews.

1 comment:

  1. What a marvelous second part of your interview. Interesting about the FB advertising working so well for their bookstore. IMO Jan's Paperbacks does everything right. They know their customer. The store remodel is awesome. They've hooked up with Kobo to take advantage of the ebook revolution and still make money. Most importantly, every person I've met their is a reader and loves books. That is huge!

    Thanks for doing this interview with Debbie. I'd love to see more of these types of interviews with booksellers, librarians, indie authors, and the organizations that support all of these.