Host: Jill Hendrix
Participants: Ruth Liebmann from PRH, Connie (writer), Sara Look from Charis, Ryan Jackson from Open Books, Jahtiek Long, Kevin Smokler, Katy Budget Books used bookstore, Alex Green from PW, Humaira (writer/consumer), Kim / Third Place, and many others
What makes a community space?
-welcome: staff, books you recognize
-physical space: community meeting area, reading room, top of mind place to meet people
-programming (like offered by museums and other cultural institutions)
-how offering yourself to the community, accessible, holding out olive branches
-how to make everyone feel welcome, whether it’s a community demographic that usually shops with you or not
-making sure your staff looks like/represents the actual demographic of your neighborhood
-but also how the community comes at you (especially in more urban areas) and how that affects your frontline staff and their feelings of safety
-semicolon in Chicago given as a great example
Charis as true social mission store vs Fiction Addiction as general indie vs stores that “act as if mission driven, but just a general indie”. Where are the lines drawn? Does it matter? What is the goal of the store? As a business coach, I tell clients that the 1st priority of business should be to ensure viability of the business. How is your goal different if you are a social mission store?
How to be profitable enough to:
-offer free things to community
-pay frontline employees a sustainable wage
-be not stressed enough to be truly welcoming
-funding model: author adoption program
-the first face of your business
-make your space feel welcoming
-usually lowest paid
-safety concerns/issues re books that you stock tend to bring in certain customers, promote certain conversations they don’t want to have.
-can’t be pedantic/snooty; does becoming a “social mission” make that tendency worse
-need to be a values fit with the store; does freedom of speech as a store value limit staff diversity?