The Spice of Life | Page 69 | Newberry

The Spice of Life

When, in Monday’s column, I discussed the different types of bookstore, I did not include much discussion of vendors of NEW books. That’s a whole separate world, and there are, in spite of so many famous closings, still many bookstores of many types selling brand new shiny materials. I did not mention this because I am not in that particular business. Sometimes my old books are nice and shiny, too, but they have escaped from the world of retail marketing. This is a world I visit from time to time (after all, secondhand groceries can have a limited appeal) but I just don’t live there.

This being October, the world of retail marketing takes on a special flavor. That flavor is “pumpkin spice”. In the past few weeks, I have seen pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin spice beer, pumpkin spice dog treats, and I am almost willing to swear I saw pumpkin spice hummus. In fact,

“Everything is pumpkin spice

Except, perhaps, for catnip mice

And oddly, I think, pumpkin pice.”

The closest I generally come to retail marketing is stocking the carts outside the A.C. (Almost Christmas) McClurg Bookstore. I was trying to recall how long these carts have been in operation, and their origin is lost in the mists of prehistoric time. Somewhere in the early 1990s, anyhow, since I was stocking them back in the day when the Newberry was in charge of the retail operation.

In 1995, though, the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore was asked to come in and manage the site for us. The carts remained in place, earning somewhere around $10,000 a year, one Teddy bear book at a time.

The carts, I am told, will remain next week, after the Newberry and Seminary Co-Op part ways. It’s a fairly amicable parting. Seminary Co-Op’s board voted to concentrate on the South Side, and aside from contesting custody of some of the customers (“No, YOU take him!”) the two former partners are moving their separate ways without casting aspersions and recriminations.

What does this mean for customers of the A.C. (Authors’ Castle) McClurg Bookstore? A new face behind the counter, perhaps: the hope is that after a weekend or so tidy up and toss a couple of fresh Tootsie Rolls in the candy bowl, everything will roll out smoothly. Seminary Co-Op finishes its run at closing time on Halloween, the store will be dark on Friday and Saturday, and the shiny new A.C. (Always Cozy) McClurg Bookstore will open on Tuesday, Guy Fawkes Day (November 5, for those of you who are generally still sleeping off the Halloween party at that time of year.)

And, as I say, the all-important Book Fair carts will remain, stocked with all manner of good things as you prepare for the holidays. Who knows? I could even use them to post my new recipe for pumpkin spice tapioca meatloaf.

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