One of the biggest pleasures of working with booksellers throughout the Midwest is watching a new bookseller grow a store from a concept that exists only in their imagination to bonafide, successful brick-and-mortar independent bookstore. Melanie Green, owner of Bluebird Books, is one such bookseller.
We first met Melanie at a spring gathering in Wichita, KS when she was doing research on how to open a bookstore. Today, she owns a remarkably creative destination bookshop in Hutchinson, KS that puts a smile on your face before you walk in the door. Melanie tapped into an amazing network to make her dreams come true. A friend is an interior designer. Her husband works with metal. Another relation is a coffee roaster in Manhattan, KS. She joined ABA and MIBA and attended a Paz workshop. With a combination of vision, consistent hard work, and years of advance planning, Melanie can now say she is the owner of a beautiful bookstore, cafe, and event space.
Her branding is powerful. The store's iconic bluebird logo is featured everywhere, painted on the book-delivery bike, cut into the beveled edges of her metal bookcases, stenciled on the ceiling, laid into mosaics on the floor, and stickered onto the coffee bean bags, chocolates, and bookmarks.
Melanie says, "Based on feedback I received from Paz, I knew that if I opened a store in Hutchinson, I would need to make it a destination." To do so, Melanie let her creativity run free, stripping a built-up space that once housed a computer shop down to its former glory, revealing concrete floors, lead-paned windows, exposed bricks, and sun-drenched skylights. To all this, she added whimsical architectural details, eclectic furniture, and an excellent selection of new books and covetable sidelines. One of the attending booksellers declared it "heaven."
Since Hutchinson is a bit off the beaten path for our traditional events, we decided to forego formal programming and simply invite area booksellers to come visit the store with us. Melanie led us on a tour and served lunch out of her new cafe. Beth Golay of Books and Whatnot joined us an led a casual marketing roundtable, sharing good ideas for engaging with customers, such as using Facebook's new scheduler, the beauty of Tweet Deck, and checking out Riverhead's Snapchat account, which she called the best in the industry.
Thank you to the booksellers of The Toy Store (Lawrence), Blue Dragon Books (Derby), Rivendell (Abilene) and Watermark (Wichita) for joining us. Thank you Beth Golay for your marketing prowess. And thank you Melanie for inviting us into your beautiful shop!