August 15th, 2016
Summary: Used book stores move to avoid rent increases, especially in areas like Colorado, with rising commercial rents. In response to several customer questions and concerns, I wanted to address the general question of why the bookstore has moved three times in the past seven years and how we plan to create a sustainable community bookstore that supports Broomfield and beyond. Deeper in the post are some things that I think are always true of every book store and even more broadly what is true of every retail store; the things that never change. These are all going into our store to make it stronger.
We are building a book community here at Coyote Ridge Books, but we are also contributing to a community that 's carried the torch of the community bookstore since 2010.
Danny and I are easing in to what's been created here, because it's filled with great moments in the history of bookstores that have operated in Broomfield. Hence we are keeping things mostly the same at the bookstore.
Also we intend to keep the name the same and keep the location the same for at least the next three years and intend to be here as long as our great landlord will have us. You can also expect the trading policy to become more generous and to find better and newer titles on the shelves.
One thing we are sure of is that, customer's want to come to a brick and mortar store. In fact, our neighborhood is brimming with readers who love to shop for books anywhere and everywhere and who would feel a loss without an independent bookshop to call their own.
There is little issue that book stores are here to say for the next decade. Even Amazon is opening brick and mortar storest so we take that as a validation of what the Coyote Ridge team has observed, mainly that demand is present for what we are.
So if you're investing in the time to connect with us or trading books with us, I feel it's important to address, at a high level, why the bookstore has changed locations and names over the past few years. Our 300+ stake holders, or customers if you will, have asked us about the re-arranging of the retail floor, why we were having a Clearance Sale, why has the store moved so many times.
Is it going to close again?
Basically you can expect a more consistent experience at the store and that the name and location will stay the same. In fact we are doing all kinds of work improving on things that we do, but not everyone who shops here really knows about. So for example, the Clearance Sale is something we do every summer to make room for next and exciting books. Next year we'll make sure to get a sign that says summer Clearance Sale.
But what I wanted address as promised was why the store has moved and changed names and then explain how the the store intends to move beyond that. Here is how it went.
The current store descends from Book Lovers bookstore in Fort Collins, Colo . A mother and daughter team created Calico Books, at the Nickel Street Marketplace, across from the old Target store. This would have been Fall 2010 when Calico operated. That team felt stretched too thin though, and decided to look for options to sell.
Coyote Ridge Books came into being when that team offered Calico a revenue sharing model that was as simple as offering to bring in some books of their own, while also selling the current books and having revenue shared based on whose book it was. The Coyote Ridge team also agreed to manage the Calico Books store. This successful relationship quickly evolved into the ownership transitioning and the name switching from Calico to Coyote Ridge Books.
The Coyote Ridge team decided to move the store a block north to 1480 Midway Blvd, which would nearly triple the space from 900 square foot to 3000 square feet. The store slowly grew until a rent hike in 2015, about a year ago this month actually, precipitated more soul searching and a move from 1480 Midway to our current 1505 W. 1st Avenue digs.
What does this all mean for you! All of this is back story is to merely set the stage for sharing some of the things we've learned and implemented to make Coyote Ridge sustainable.
The first lesson is very clear. The future of a community book selling enterprise, in Broomfield (and everywhere else, too) needs to significantly hedge it's real estate risk (defined as potential or market rents, purchase, etc.)
The second lesson is that, just like every other industry, a basic trend in retailing is emerging, which is that a bookstore (any retail store???) needs to grow it's service-based revenue streams. Restaurants do this by offering easy carry-out, which only costs a few parking places and customers use their own real estate (home, car) to consume the product.
For a bookstore, it's offering low impact services like free book donation drop-off, cash book buyback events and whatever service you can dream of if you own a bookstore.
The third lesson is more specific to us, which is we want to create a mission and values based book store. If you look at the beginning of our About Us page, we talk about promoting conversations around books. I believe that any book store can manage its real estate risk, and it's service reputation and growth by also intentionally managing the mission of the bookstore.
By having a mission, our bookstore is creating the type of meaning that attracts customers and employees. When you create meaning, you create kindness and through kindness, repeat customers and profits. This type of mission based approach has quickly led to a conclusion that a thriving bookstore needs to be centered around a meaningful conversation around the book experience. Focusing on this has allowed business opportunities and meaningful customer relationships to naturally fall out of our day-to day-work.
The main values we wish the store to reflect are innovation, persistence and compassion. This value set serves as the scaffolding that helps support and guide the store.
Innovation for the courage to see the market in a new way and test those assumptions. Persistence, to see those innovations that work, through the gauntlet to become a thing that is part of our culture; a thing we do around here, to borrow a common phrase.
And compassion, which in it's Western sense breeds empathy and kindness for all of our customers, employees, investors and vendors. In the Eastern sense, it's more of a giving over to the forces of the world, the ten thousand things that ancient texts refer to, and that even the certainty in our business processes and our people always needs to have room for expansion, to be open at the top and open to change, no matter how awesome we think we are!
An extension or tactic of a values-based approach is that the store best fulfills it's mission by going beyond the four walls of our location. Getting out of the building by delivering and picking up books, we talk to new customers we may not have talked to before. We reach book lovers who have trouble getting out of the house. and by extension, provide services that not even Amazon or Barnes & Noble can match.
It is this type of thinking and tactical know-how which guides our thoughts about the future of the store. One exercise we've gone through is imagining what a bookstore one hundred years from now will do. Here's what I think the bookstore of 2116 will help people do; define and document their intellectual journey.
This is a value that reader's hold dear today and if bookstores are still around one hundred years from now, it will be because people still hold the Great Books in high-esteem and the reading of those and the many, many other yet-to-be-written-classics, will still define who is a smarty pants and who isn't.
Books are unique in that they represent a media form that is a challenge to finish and an intellectual odyssey if you will. TV, radio, movies and the internet can't match that. Hence, a book store will need to help people in their intellectual journey regardless of how the books are published.
In short we've made a book store like that. Built to create conversations, serve the Broomfield community and importantly built to change and evolve over time while preserving the feeling you get in a good bookstore.
How you can help is to come in and join the conversation. Whether you need to buy books, sell books, give, books or just need to be around people that care about books, Coyote Ridge is there to help that happen. - Matt