Village Green Bookstore opened in 1972 in a 600-square-foot basement store at 766 Monroe Avenue in Rochester, New York, before its reputation among the community’s book lovers spread and it expanded into the larger storefront upstairs.
The store had a coffee bar before they became common in bookstores and despite starting out by selling only the local Sunday edition, would offer more than 100 newspapers and 2,400 magazines. Eventually, while books were still a staple of the business, they became lost behind their rapidly expanding merchandise line.
By 1992, Village Green had added as many as eight new stores throughout Central and Western New York, including locations at 1089 Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst and 765 Elmwood Avenue in the Elmwood Village. But the growth for the company had become troublesome. Hoping to solve their financial problems, the chain continued to expand locations and product offerings. In doing so, as tends to happen when a company forces growth in order to dominate the market, Village Green forgot their purpose and mission. The company had forgotten what one of the founders, John Borek, had said not long after opening; their intention was to cater to “people who were hungry for books.” Instead, they were selling ice cream and inflatable bagels.
Within a few years they had added stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but with a series of catastrophic financial decisions that involved lawsuits, criminal charges and SEC investigations, the company began closing “underperforming” stores, including a third location in Western New York, in the McKinley Plaza in Blasdell. The closures and merchandise sell offs could not keep the company afloat however and in 1998 they had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The following year, the flagship store on Monroe closed it doors for good, eventually becoming a Pizza Hut.
Cristin Stickles (with the best Twitter handle ever @ThtsWhatSheRead), the Children’s & Young Adult Buyer at McNally Jackson Books in Manhattan, recently wrote about the very terrifying reality of Elf on the Shelf for BookRiot.
We’ve covered the dark underbelly of Christmas that is represented in this Elf on the Shelf; the implications of its promoting a snitching culture, the racial unrest it leads to, and the overall creepiness of it all. Stickles tackles these issues and more as she examines how this new holiday tradition “is a psychological weapon that perpetuates a culture of fear among children. Still worse, it makes parents active participants in the destruction of childhood wonder.”
She has also reached that point in the holiday retail world where, well, she’s gone a little crazy. It’s a normal condition, quite commonly found in anyone within the general retail working community this time of year, but usually reaches a more virulent and aggressive state among booksellers. That’s science.
Let’s not forget that this whole rant started while she was repeatedly circling a display using her retail Jedi powers to discover what book was missing. A book was missing, a book is always missing, and a true bookseller will always sense a disturbance within their displays.
The best booksellers out there are Jedis, they have to be; have you ever watched a bookseller explain to someone on Christmas Eve that the particular book they’re looking for is out of stock and no, it can’t be ordered in time? Did that customer then destroy the galaxy? Nope. Jedi Bookseller Mind Trick. It’s a thing.
Now that we’ve gotten completely off topic, and apparently tried to establish that the Elf on the Shelf are Stormtroopers and Santa is actually Emperor Palpatine (you have invited that evil into your homes people and only have yourselves to blame), you should go read Stickles’ original post and try, deep down, to remember that Christmas isn’t supposed to be about little snitching backstabbing elves, but a good, old-fashioned year round fear (respect) of your parents.
But, if you haven’t had several meltdowns and completely given up yet like I have, and you’re still out there shopping on Christmas Eve, at least do yourself a favor and just take what they give you.
Looking for a coffee-table pop-up book on late 19th century Japanese warships and you’re given a wonders of the world bargain book? Take it. Need a new charging cable for your Zune? Wait, what? Really? Had your heart set on picking up the bluray of “Star Wars: the Force Awakens” and you know it’s out because you saw it on Amazon—no! It’s pre-order! It just came out in theaters, why do you not understand how the world works? Take that copy of “the Wiz” the salesperson is trying to stab you in the face with and go away.
Those retail employees are one clueless customer away from falling to the Dark Side, and as someone who personally witnessed two Target employees earlier this week have a full-on lightsaber duel in the middle of the electronics section, a Retail Jedi who has given into the hate is not someone you want to mess with.
I may not work at a bookstore, but that doesn’t mean I’m no longer a bookseller. Gas Station Burrito Used Books is open for business
I used to joke that all of the books I was buying and stockpiling and collecting, (because collecting is just the word hoarders use to sound less creepy) was my retirement fund. One day I’d be retired with nothing else to do but write and drink coffee and read. And yell at those goddamned kids to get off my lawn. I can’t wait to yell at kids. And I’ll get to do all this while wearing dapper old man sweaters. Probably with my new slacks, since I’d be at the age then to use the word slacks without sounding creepy. I’d be an old, respectable, non-creepy book collecting, slacks wearing old man. Life would be good.
Life would be good because I’d finally get to read all these books that I bought over the years; the ones that sounded interesting enough to take as advanced readers, or to buy for a few dollars at a yard sale or used book sale. They were interesting enough to buy, but never quite interesting enough to read immediately. Or I’d start reading one only to get distracted by a dozen other equally interesting titles.
Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible to hold onto all these books anymore. As I may have to with my actual retirement fund (the one that allegedly has real money in it, depending on the mood of the stock market), it’s time to cash it in.
When I moved in with my girlfriend about 99% of my books had to get boxed up; we simply didn’t have the room in the apartment. This didn’t stop me from buying more books, you understand, it only meant that the ones I had before went into storage. I even bought second copies of books I knew were boxed up because it was easier than digging through my storage unit (read: my parent’s attic)
By sort, of course, I mean fight about what had to stay and what to go. Books are very serious in this house. There have been tears. Those tears may have been mine…
The plan was to donate the twenty or so boxes of books and movies that didn’t make the cut to the annual used book sale at the Kenmore Library, but we missed the drop-off. Nothing’s going on with that room yet, so I suppose we could shut the door and ignore them until next year, or even donate them somewhere else. But that would require me carrying all of those boxes down the stairs and making multiple trips to wherever. Look, they just put up another season of Longmire on Netflix, I don’t have time for that.
Or, instead, I could put them up for sale. Then I only have to carry the books down the stairs one at a time. As they sell. And people give me money. Much better plan.
The movies are all doubles from when we merged our collections, so don’t judge me for selling my Bourne collection. Don’t worry, dude, I still have copies.
And the books, well, they’re a little bit of everything. From titles I bought for school to ‘advanced readers’ publishers sent out ahead of a book’s release, to terrible late-night Wikipedia rabbit-hole induced used book purchases.
There’s good and bad, the expected and ‘why, just why’ titles. It’s going to take a while to get everything posted and organized and sorted, so check them out, bookmark the pages, and keep checking back.
I’m proud of all my books, even the ones I’m selling off. There was a reason I picked up everyone one of them, something in every one of these books that made me take it home. I hope you find something in there you like, too.