After 40 years in the retail book business I thought I had learned everything I needed to know about running an independent bookstore. I was wrong. This afternoon I learned an new skill set – Sandbagging!
We came to help out at the Snow Goose Bookstore here in Stanwood a week ago because my brother-in-law Tom had fallen off a ladder while putting up Christmas decorations at the store and badly broke his leg. Kristine, who owns the store (and is my wife, Karen’s, sister), does not drive and they live about seven miles from the store. We thought they needed help and, being semi-retired, we had the time, so we came North. Family always comes first.
Then, on Tuesday, one of the store’s POS computers went down. I went in, did some emergency surgery, replaced a faulty disc drive and got the system running again. To complete a wonderful bookstore day, I did some Ingram and Partners returns! It IS just like riding a bike—you never forget (no matter how hard you try!)
Wednesday and Thursday, there were more doctors to see and more errands to run, and I put up some shelving in a new storage room in their basement.
Today, Sunday, was everyone’s day off. We took Kristine to Mt. Vernon to do some needed shopping, and, on the way, we stopped at the bookstore to update the inventory computer. Of course, the computer froze and wouldn’t work. I did more emergency surgery and replaced yet another floppy drive to get it working again.
Finally, we were back home having a late lunch. I’m halfway through my Ninkasi Sleighr when Kristine informs me the river is rising, and the mayor is evacuating downtown Stanwood. We need to get into town to sandbag the store!
I soon discovered how many sandbags a 70 year-old man can fill before his back goes out. I think it was about 20 (though it seemed like 100.). While Karen, Kristine and her staff and friends moved EVERYTHING in the store 18 inches above the floor, I and a staff person sandbagged the back and front of the store. More friends and staff and family members made trips to the city site to pick up more filled sandbags and empty bags, which we filled from a sand pile behind the store. We also helped sandbag a couple of neighbor stores that had no one to help.
The river is supposed to crest about 11 pm at 25 feet above flood stage with a high tide hitting at about the same time. They have closed the highway into town and are building a berm along the edge of the low piece than runs by town. This all may amount to nothing, but better safe than sorry. In the morning we need to go in early, remove the sandbags and redo the store. This is assuming that the town is not under water.
We decided to stay another week so that I could take Tom to the Anacortes Hospital next Thursday to have surgery and a permanent cast put on his leg. It looks like it was good we decided to stay! Who knows what will happen next. News at 11:00.
And here are some musings from Karen:
I had forgotten how HARD booksellers work! I am exhausted after 10 hours in the store.
My feet hurt!!!
It is more fun working as a bookseller when you are not the boss!!!!
It is still a lot of fun opening boxes.
I really miss seeing all the new books.
Talking to customers about books is really fun–even though I don’t know anything about new books anymore–especially YA and Childrens’s titles.
Readers are really, really interesting, even the ones you don’t agree with.
Editors note: Stanwood did not flood. By Monday morning, the Snow Goose Disaster Central Crew had pulled the sandbags away and moved the books back to the shelves, preparing the store for holiday shoppers and then a windstorm and power outage and then, maybe, locusts.