Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Bookstore Review

Good morning, Blog Buds! I had to tell you all about a new-to-me bookstore my husband and I visited on our hot, hot date yesterday. When you love books as much as we do, believe me there's nothing hotter than a really good bookstore..Pandemonium Bookstore is located in Wasilla, Alaska, a thoroughly happenin' town since it's home to our governor, Sarah Palin. It's the largest town in the Matanuska Valley, so named after the glacier and also known as the bread basket of the state because of the farming. And it's got a fair-sized campus extension for the University of Alaska. Anyway....
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The brilliance of the creator and owner of this bookstore is stunning. I didn't learn his or her name because I didn't want to be biased. But, let me tell you why I think he or she is brilliant. *He or She knows her local patrons extremely well and puts that knowledge to work.*
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I think I mentioned in my last bookstore review for Title Wave Bookstore (an awesome independent) in Anchorage, Alaska that there had been a Big National Chain Bookstore in a nearby mall. It failed and it's failure came as no surprise to me. Why? Because the majority of the people living and working in the neighborhood in which it was located was African American. Not only did this Big National Chain Bookstore segregate the African American authors, but there was only one pathetic little shelf for them. Well, Pandemonium is the exact opposite.
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To begin with, Pandemonium is situated in the parking lot of Home Depot. Who goes shopping at Home Depot? Mostly men. And not just any men. *Married Men with Families.* Women go shopping there too and women are also the largest segment of the book-buying public.
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Husband: "Uh, Honey, I need to go to Home Depot and pick up some..."
Wife (leaping up): "The one in Wasilla next to Pandemonium Bookstore? Round up the kids!" (skips merrily away, grabbing her purse)
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I'll start at one end of the store and go to the other. On the immediate left as you walk in is the conference room with a long table and comfortable chairs. My husband said it was being used by a religious group yesterday. There's a local Bible college nearby and many churches in the area.
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Beyond that to the far left is the children's section. Naturally, they have all the best titles, but what they also have is *Homeschool Supplies.* Homeschooling is HUGE in Alaska! Even the Governor's eldest daughter is finishing her high school education at home. Some of you may have heard the erroneous rumor that she'd dropped out. Absolutely not true. Homeschooling has always been huge in Alaska because educating children who live waaaay out in the Bush has always been a challenge. Many of them simply live too far from a regular school to attend. I know of at least one village in which children fly back and forth in an airplane to attend a school. For the poo-pooers, you should know Homeschool kids continue to win top honors at the National Spelling Bee and Geography Bee and get into nearly every college in the nation, including Harvard and the Air Force Academy. Homeschooling can work beautifully. But, I'm on my soapbox here because educate our children at home too. I was thrilled to be able to examine curriculum in person which I'd only ever read about in homeschool supply catalogs.
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Besides the homeschooling area, they had a playhouse and antique desks set up for children to leisurely read and parents to collapse in exhaustion with their own books while they did so.
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There's a good sized adult section with gifts, non-fiction, and fiction sections. The Science Fiction & Fantasy aisles were decent. Considering how appealing this store is to the female population (even the bathroom was a girl's delight) I was surprised there weren't more Romance novels. The Romance genre accounts for about fifty percent of all books sold, you know. But, I guess it was a space issue. This store is small, but extremely well-organized, and I predict will expand at some point. Remember, our economy is a lot better here in Alaska than it is for you Lower 48ers.
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The coffee shop is glorious with a fire place and a delightful selection of treats and sandwiches. We had Italian sodas, the first ones we've had since our favorite coffee shop went out of business when we were newlyweds.
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The coffee shop seemed to be a well-populated hang-out for the early twentysomething crowd, all of them polite, enjoying the company of friends, and/or doing their homework, probably for that nearby UAA extension campus, or that local Bible college. I did say the patrons were well-served at Pandemonium, right?
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Lessons Learned:
1) Know your patrons (or readers, in the case of authors.)
2) See a need, Fill a need.
3) Respect and appreciation go a long way.
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When I got home, I wasn't surprised to discover this bookstore also has a well-organized, pleasant website- http://www.akbookstore.com/;)

1 comment:

Heather said...

What a super sounding store! I'm on the next flight to Alaska right now...!