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3 weeks back, an All Things Bookstore diary looked at how some indie bookstores are using crowdfunding sources to try to raise $ to keep afloat.  Here, in the St. Louis area, The Book House in the suburban Rock Hill neighborhood is one of those cases, albeit one not covered in the NYT article, since The Book House's effort began just recently.  I've diaried before about The Book House, so this will act as a bit of an update, as well as a call to help them out, as their Indiegogo effort isn't going that well.  More below the flip.....

First, if you want some quick back story via my past diaries on the situation with The Book House:

(a) SNLC, 5/4/2013
(b) SNLC, 7/13/2013

Some more recent coverage since my last diary has come from these articles:

(c) Steve Giegrich, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7/24/13
(d) Sam Levin, Riverfront Times (blog post), 7/24/13

On one point noted in the 7/13/13 SNLC, per Giegrich's 7/24/13 article, The Book Store owner Michelle Barron addressed the one issue of the owed back rent:

"Barron said she also averted a Thursday eviction hearing in St. Louis Circuit Court by reimbursing her current landlord back rent."
In Levin's RFT blog post, he noted Barron's idea for a crowdsourcing campaign regarding the move to the new location, and for starting to rehab the new location:
"The Book House will launch an online fundraising campaign this week or next, she says, noting that it will be around $40,000 to $60,000 to move and set up the new location. She hopes to open up the Maplewood site in the fall and have the store in full swing by the holidays."
That Indiegogo campaign has already begun, as is visible from the link pre-flip.  The goal is to raise $25K.  However, as of this writing, they're only at <$1.5K, not even 10% of the goal.  This reminded me of the one passage in the NYT article by Julie Bosman featured in the earlier All Things Bookstore diary:
"And if their customers have a fierce attachment to their local neighborhood bookstore, as many claim to do, then bookstore owners reason that they should test that loyalty by making a direct appeal for donations."
By that measure, The Book House customers are failing the test.  Just by way of illustration, The Book House has 1448 likes on Facebook.  The $ total at 12:30 on Monday afternoon (when I'm writing this, of course) is $1,455.  In other words, it's $1 per FB like.  Readers of this diary can help out, if you have the cash to spare, of course.

I stopped by the current location to think about buying a book or two, not that it would make a huge difference in how much they have to move.  As I said in one earlier SNLC on The Book House situation, however, books are the last thing I need, much as I like indie bookstores.  So I ended up buying just one book, a biography, which again I don't really need, but I bought more as a miniscule gesture of support (such as that is).  I checked later, of course (the obligatory 900-lb gorilla in the room behind the whole story), and saw "Ex-Library" copies on sale for $0.01, as well as non-library copies at $1.50.  I paid a fair bit more than that, needless to say, although the addition of S&H to the Amazon price would have made my purchase just 2x that of the Amazon price, once The Book House took 20% off the used price.  I also saw one more book that looked curiously interesting, a biography of Thomas Hardy at $22, but I admit that I held back.  That one has $0.01 copies available on Amazon, of course.

Packing of books and loading of the truck was going on when I visited.  Browsing in the store, I saw that the British history section was all packed up, for instance (d'oh).  But loads, loads, and more loads of books remain on the shelves, to be (most likely) packed or (rather unlikely) sold before the move.  The classic literature section had quite a few virtually mint copies of B&N printings of classic novels (Dickens, Austen, etc.), for example.

The current location at 9719 Manchester Road is not the most visible from the road, as Manchester Road at that stretch is 4-lane, surrounded by some other stand-alone businesses and down the road and across the street from a new shopping center/strip mall set-up.  Barron signed the least to take over the space at 7352 Manchester Road, in the town of Maplewood that borders the St. Louis city line, back on July 23.  So she's literally moving shop down the street from the current location.  

The new location is actually in the heart of Maplewood, in so far as Maplewood really has a "heart", which consists of 4 blocks along Manchester and two blocks down from the corner of Maplewood and Sutton.  The new location is a case in point, per the Indiegogo page:

"The building is over 100 years old and has been vacant for almost 20 years.  It was once a Newberry's department store and still has the old storefront (in serious disrepair) and original tin ceilings (now water damaged)."
Indeed, in Maplewood, for years, many of the store fronts were abandoned along Manchester.  So Maplewood was and is notorious for making money through speeding and parking tickets, as they didn't do a good job of attracting new businesses there.  There's still some turnover and what looks like undeveloped old storefronts along that stretch, e.g. the closing of a "dueling pianos" locale 3 years ago.  However, over what seems like the past 5 or so years, things have slowly started to turn around on that stretch of Manchester.  Several years back, on Southwest Avenue just slightly off Manchester, the one business that, IMHO, really started the area on rejuvenation is this establishment, which of course has nothing to do with books (and yes, it is that family).  Other places like a trendy Kakao chocolate store, a pet shop, and a VOM FASS branch location have sprung up along Manchester as well.  7352 Manchester is right along that stretch, so in the context of Maplewood, the location is pretty prime.

Unfortunately, so are the costs of rehabbing that space, and I can imagine the rent will be a nightmare as well.  Per the Indiegogo page:

"There is wonderful potential for a beautiful space once its remodeled.  However there is a LOT of work to do.   We will need to put in bathrooms, new electrical and Hvac, reinforce floors, fix an existing stairway and create an entrance and stairwell in the back.  Not to mention painting, reflooring, building shelves, signage, and moving almost 300,000 books!  Initial estimates are over $100,000 to renovate the space.   We have been unable to obtain needed funding through a bank or SBA loan so we must get creative and appeal to the community for help."
Granted, there are certainly other priorities for fund-raising about which to be concerned, like keeping a whack-job uber-reactionary from becoming Governor of Virginia, for one.  But if you have some small amount of funds to spare and want to help The Book House out, they'll certainly appreciate it.

Originally posted to chingchongchinaman on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers.

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