January 25, 2012LITTLETON — The Village Book Store — one of Main Street's anchor stores — has consolidated its retail operations onto its main floor. Children's and young adult books, plus assorted games and toys, have been relocated to the street-level.
Stitch — a quilting supplies shop that Beth Anderson of Whitefield started up three-and-a-half years ago in the Old Mill on the Whitefield Common has rented the newly vacated space. Anderson has renamed the store — One Stitch, Two Stitch —but says that she expects she'll still affectionately refer to it as Stitch. Prior to opening her own retail store, the energetic entrepreneur worked at the VBS.
"I see this as a win-win situation," explained owner-operator Jeff Wheeler of Lyman, who purchased the VBS 11 years ago from Ned and Kathie Densmore of Franconia. "We've gained a new source of revenue to help pay the mortgage, attracted a vibrant store with an established following that will also draw customers to our doors, and maximized our use of space."
The VBS has retained all its various sections as well as its café, and will continue to offer classes, including foreign language, photography, and wine appreciation, Wheeler explained. One Stitch, Two Stitch will also offer a wide variety of quilting and sewing classes.
Inventory management — paying attention to what sells relatively swiftly — plays an increasing role in remaining a successful bookseller, Wheeler said. General economic conditions as well as eBooks and online discount companies, such as Amazon, challenge independent bookstores.
"This change also will help to further strengthen the downtown area by adding diversity," Wheeler predicted.
The VBS was closed for four days last week during the changeover, and on Saturday customers first experienced the new consolidated arrangement of books, music, cards, and other offerings.
"So far, customer response has been terrific and very positively reinforcing," Wheeler said.
Ideas on how best to organize its wares on a single level were garnered from its own employees, Littleton Main Street program consultant Bruce Baker, and through peer review, a service provided by the American Booksellers Association.
Anderson, who has been extremely busy closing one shop and readying another, could not be reached for an interview. "This is moving week," Anderson wrote in her blog. "We will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 31, with a new full-time employee, Darlene Sprague, a new address - 81 Main Street, Suite 200 — and a new phone number — 603-444-5284 — and new hours – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday."