Despite bad weather in much of the country early in the month and higher gasoline prices later in the month, sales at general retailers rose 4.2% in February, as tracked by Thomson Reuters.
Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, told the New York Times: "It doesn't mean there are no headwinds, but I think this is moving in the right direction." Still, the Times noted that "the retail sector has been struggling as rising commodity costs and stubborn unemployment have held back the discretionary spending of consumers, and retailers have responded in recent months with discounting and promotions."
The department store index rose 5.3%, and the discount store index was up 4.9%. Among the best results: sales at Costco stores open at least a year rose 8%, Nordstom was up 7.3%, Penney rose 6.4%, Macy's gained 5.8% and BJ's Wholesale Club rose 5.5%.
Heirloom Book Company, a "bookstore devoted to cookbooks,
wine and food art," will open April 1 at 123 King St., Charleston, S.C.,
the Post & Courier
reported, noting that Brad Norton, Bryan Lewis and Carlye Dougherty
just signed a two-year lease for the 1,400-square-foot site.
new bookstore will also carry titles on farming, gardening, home
brewing, cocktail culture, wine collecting and "a sizable stock of rare,
out-of-print books, as well as prints, photographs and other ephemera.
It plans to host signings, art exhibitions and other events, some in
conjunction with restaurants, farms and other local food organizations,"
the Post & Courier wrote.
Norton is president of
Palmetto Distributing of North Charleston, a wine and beer company, and
has been collecting rare books for more than 20 years. Lewis, COO of
Palmetto, "will bring his experience in sales and marketing, as well as
his interest in the rare cookbook business to the venture" and
Dougherty's experience includes working as the editor of the Kiawah Island Legends magazine for the past several years.
Trend of the month: bookstores on the move?
In December, Jay Philips moved his discount bookstore, Books & More, to Norwell, Mass., after having similar stores with the same name, first in Plymouth, then in Carver. The Carver location closed last September.
Philips told the Patriot Ledger that he sought a site farther north and with heavy traffic flow, "a location with a larger population base near Boston, which would have demographics fitting for a literate consumer who would appreciate a discount bookseller with quality titles for adults and kids."
He has owned, operated, managed and worked in bookstores since 1989.
And in Louisiana, Vanessa Efferson has moved her five-year-old Raven Bookstore to Grand Cane from Homer, about 65 miles away, after her husband accepted a new job. "It was my lifelong dream to own a small-town bookstore, so I packed it up and took it all with me," Efferson told Bookselling This Week.
Efferson and her daughter, Hannah, who helps run the store, were recruited by several Grand Cane aldermen. The store has shrunk to 875 square feet of space from 2,000, "but we did it well, and now have a quaint, eclectic little shop," she said.
Bestsellers are nonfiction, mainly biographies and Louisiana history. The store has a coffee bar with wi-fi and sells literary gifts, games and puzzles, too. "The Raven is also involved in all kinds of community and cultural events, from artfests and open mic nights to haunted tours and writer's workshops," BTW noted.
The Wall Street Journal offered an unusual "remembrance" of Walter Zacharius, founder of Kensington Publishing who "built one of the largest independent book publishers in the nation by exploiting niches the bigger houses ignored" and who died on Wednesday at age 87.
Zacharius founded Kensington in 1974 as a historical romance publisher, but typically for Zacharius, Kensington wound up publishing in a range of subjects and formats, everything from medical guides with the Mayo Clinic to a book about O.J. Simpson that was written in six days and appeared 11 days after the murder of his wife.
Our favorite quotation: commenting on publishing books by Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series, whose apocalyptic Christian viewpoint might not blend with Zacharius's support of "educational and Jewish causes," Zacharius said that LaHaye "sells zillions of books."
Congratulations to Philip Rafshoon, owner of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Atlanta, Ga., who has been named the winner of the 2011 Alumni Legacy Award by Georgia Tech's Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. The prize committee nominated Rafshoon "because of the invaluable leadership he has shown in the Atlanta community." According to Fenuxe Magazine, Rafshoon is the first openly gay person to receive the award.
"I think it's just phenomenal that they've awarded it to a very openly gay person who has done a lot of work in the LGBT community," Rafshoon told the magazine.
Rafshoon receives the award on March 15, right after he returns from a trip to Mexico to celebrate his birthday. "It's a real nice birthday gift," he said.
Book trailer of the day: Ugly Beauty: Helena Rubinstein, L'Oreal, and the Blemished History of Looking Good by Ruth Brandon (Harper).
The bookstore of the week of the Los Angeles Times' Jacket Copy blog is Portrait of a Bookstore in Studio City, which has 900 square feet of space inside the Aroma Café and features titles that "are very carefully selected by people who really care about the books they stock and read." Fiction and memoirs do very well.
The store marks its 25th anniversary in May.
Also in southern California, LA Weekly
has discovered the secret to successful indie bookselling: "A bit of
spectacle, a bit of soft sell, plus drinks and perhaps a cheese plate.
At bookstores, those elements come together these days to form what are
known as 'events.' They have become de rigueur for booksellers hoping to
avoid Chapter 11."
"We definitely see a significant boost in total sales when we have events," said Max Probst of Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.,
events planner Ashley Ravelo said finding the right components for a
successful event can be "pretty tricky," but generally snacks put people
at ease, kids need hands-on activities and adults can hang with more
casual stuff but require a bit of structure, too. "There's no checklist.
You know it's a good event if people would return for future events."
The e-book revolution has hit Missoula, Mont., but indie bookseller Fact and Fiction
"celebrating their 25th anniversary in March, and manager Barbara
Theroux says they are now offering e-books on their website to stay
current," KPAX-8 reported.
you're starting to lose business because of onlines sales, then you
need to be online," said Theroux. "Eight to nine percent of book
business, that can help your bottom line."
Obituary note: Victor Martinez, whose semi-autobiographical novel Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida won the 1996 National Book Award for young people's literature, has died, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 56.