We were blocking half of the road, so I expected an admonishment from the woman rolling down her window. What she said instead surprised. "Welcome to the neighborhood honey. We are so very glad you're here and can't wait to come to your store. I think you should put a flag up here so no one gets hurt. When will you be open?"
She was mistaking me for the proprietor of Greedy Reads on the quaint corner in Baltimore. Julia Fleischaker watched from the door with her attentive dog. And as we unloaded her fixtures, there were at least a dozen people who stopped to echo similar welcoming sentiments.
They looked like eclectic character actors from a fun movie: a spiky haired comic enthusiast anxious to know if horror would be on hand, the big-smiled mail deliverer bouncing with giddy delight, the older gentleman with his jaunty hat and bag of bread inquiring about the date of opening. Like a late term new mother, Julia repeatedly gave response to the head-in-the-door inquiries. "Mid to late February" she said. "Oh I can't wait!" Said a young woman walking her wheaton terrior. "We have needed a bookstore."
"I'm Julia" Julia said, extending her hand. "I'm Amy and I'll be seeing you." Looks like Julia will have a lot of new friends on her corner, where the old blue and red stained glass will make pretty warm lights on the weathered white washed floor.
Like so many things in this wonderful world of independent stores, Dave and I were moved by the experience. This was our second delivery and we did it to help Julia save on shipping and to start the year with a deep dive into the experience of Fixture delivery, learning so that we can improve.
It was fun showing Julia her new t-shelves and l-shelves that will work in her flared cases. "These will never deflect" I said, "and they were made by people in Tennessee who are invested in your success. We'll be here to problem solve with you as you grow over the next 30 years."
The difference in Julia's store begins with her fixtures. Rather than ordering something that she'd have to put together, made with particle board that won't last two years, she ordered sustainable Franklin Fixtures, made with the highest available MDF that will hold its shape through the cold winters and hot summers, and be the silent sales force, quietly offering books that easily meet the eye because of the angle created by the display shelving.
Our experience at Greedy Reads gave us an opportunity to feel our "why" firsthand. When we ship an order, we're not just delivering fixtures (bookshelves designed to display oodles of books and merchandise, lasting and changing weekly for the next 30 years) . We're helping bring to life a light on a corner in Baltimore or Tallahassee or Tucson. It's a place where people of all ages and backgrounds are anxiously waiting for a new store to open.
You know you're welcome when people volunteer to work in your store, when people cross the street to offer help moving in, when people randomly stop to introduce themselves. They want this. They'll find books there. They'll find each other. And in Baltimore it's clear they are indeed feeling deliciously Greedy for those new Reads.