watervole: (Default)
 We broke the shop sales record today.  Well, maybe I lie a little. We didn't so much break it as smash it!

We beat our previous best sales for a week by around £350 and also set a new record for sales in one day, cheerfully beating the previous record set last Xmas eve.

We had several really good sales (£60 - 10 vol set of Horace Walpole's letters; a lovely art book for £25; three autographed novels for a total of £25; some modern organic chemistry books for £55 in total), but even without those sales, the record for the week would still have been broken by a good margin.

We're just selling more of everything - about a thousand items over the week.  More books, more children's books, more music, more films, more everything.

We thought we had the shop reasonably well organised by this time last year, but we've been  tweaking all sorts of small details since then and the small tweaks add up.

About a month ago, we started sorting movies into the different age ratings (U, PG, 12, 16, 18).  This week, we swapped the children's movies and the poetry shelves over to bring the children's movies lower down.

Those two small changes have probably tripled our sales of children's films.

Thank goodness for our two Saturday volunteers (both still at school).  We'd never have kept up with restocking the shelves without them.
watervole: (Default)
 Today (Monday) was manic.  Normally, Monday is one of our quieter days, but this pattern appears to break down in tourist season.

We took nearly £360 - 169 books.  That's double what we normally take on a Monday.

A customer came in mid-afternoon and said how relaxing it must be to work in a bookshop.  I explained that it was a bit like a swan - gliding along the surface and paddling madly underneath.

I told her how many books we'd sold at that point (about  130) and explained that all 130 of those books had to be replaced by someone bringing down new stock from upstairs.  She instantly got it, so I didn't bother telling her that stock turnover (replacing old stock with new) was on top of that and doubled the workload...

We had a small mountain of incoming stock as well.  A wet weekend often brings in lots of stock on Mondays.

We're putting out all the children's books in the window and on the outside table.   It's pulling in families who then come in and buy books for the parents as well as for the kids.  People on holiday seem happy to buy lots of books.  As do grandparents looking after kids during the school holidays.

It's great sales, but we're both absolutely exhausted.  I come home and collapse in front of the TV (and I watch very little as a rule).
watervole: (Default)
 Working/volunteering in a charity bookshop can be exhausting at times.

Because we sell a lot of low value items, we have to sell about twice as many items per day as a typical charity shop to make a similar amount of money. Sure, we sell the occasional book for £50 or more (specialist book on Spitfires last week), but the bulk of our sales are paperback fiction.

On a really busy day, we may need to restock around 150 items. All our back stock is up one or two flights of stairs, so we get plenty of exercise if we're not on the till.  (And even being on the till can be tiring for a long busy stint as you've got to remain alert and focused.)

Of course, the sales aren't the only items that need replacing. We also have to  turn over the stock to remove unsold items that have been on the shelves too long, so that's even more books to move up and down stairs.

Then there's the incoming stock.  We get boxes and bags of donated books every day, typically around half a dozen.  Those have to be sorted, priced and filed in the back stock.

We've improved all these processes in various ways since we started in the shop over a year ago.  Richard can sort incoming stock incredibly fast now.  Pricing is surprisingly fast. (He prices much faster than I do, though I'm probably a bit more accurate).  Speed is necessary - it's the only way to avoid unsafe levels in the incoming stock area.

Stock turnover is a smooth, regular process using different volunteers on different days.  We've built up a system over time that gives higher value books a longer period on the shelves (and a better position in the display).

We could always use more people - it is very labour-intensive because of the sheer volume of books involved, but we're doing well.

Sales are consistently averaging £250 a week above the same period for last year.  That's really good for the charity, and we hope it will be enough for the shop to be given permanent status when the lease comes up for renewal.  

The sales are also a real morale boost for us and the volunteers. Last week was the third best week since the shop opened three years ago.

We have regular local customers, and we attract far more tourists than in the past.  (better display)

watervole: (Default)
 I'm knackered.  The bookshop is doing really well at present.  

We're still getting used to the novelty of sometimes being in the top 50% of Weldmar shop sales, rather than close to the bottom. (We're one of their smaller shops, so we're never going to beat the large ones on overall takings)

It's summer in Dorchester, and Dorchester is a tourist town, and people on holiday like to read books. All kinds of books.  Paperback fiction is turning over well, but so are higher value books.  A £50 book on the history of Spitfire's sold on Monday (Incredibly detailed - exhaustive specs of every Spitfire ever build).

We've also managed to increase our sales of CDs and DVDs.  Richard's mum, Molly, donated us an old counter-top display unit which was probably used for selling sweets.  It's really good for displaying CDs and DVDs when on a table outside.  People stop and flip through them.  We're selling far more pop music as a result.  Our normal demographic is much more into Classical music.

The catch is that when you sell a hundred or so items in a day, you're forever running up and down stairs to restock...

Add in the effort to price everything, and the work needed to turn over the unsold stock and replace it with new, and you're working pretty hard.  Up and down stairs, carrying heavy books...

We've just lost our Wednesday volunteer - in a good way - he found a job.

So, we're really hoping someone turns up, either to help on the till or to help with the restocking.  If you've got  any friends in Dorchester, just point them in our direction!

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Judith Proctor

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