Ninth Street Books has been a downtown Wilmington presence since 1977.
Bookstores Leverage the Power of Local Competing with big retailers requires creativity, keeping things personal, and developing alliances By Scott Pruden
hat does it take to be successful as an independent bookseller in the second decade of the 21st century? According to Rebecca Dowling, owner of Hockessin Book Shelf, it takes persistence, creativity—including alliances with local businesses—and loyalty to a devoted customer base. And an auto parts store next door doesn’t hurt. She shares this piece of information while noting that her store has no coffee shop, which many shoppers have come to expect from bigbox book retailers (or at least those that are left—more on that later).
“I’d rather be next to a food service than have the headache of having one in the store,” she says. “I think the draw is the books.” While she doesn’t have any food service stores in the strip mall where her store is located, she does have the Hockessin NAPA auto parts shop. Though it doesn’t offer fancy Italian coffees, it has its benefits. “We have lots of male suspense and adventure fiction customers, who I’m sure walk into our front door when they mean to walk into NAPA,” she says. ► FEBRUARY 2016 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
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