by Leslie Budewitz
If I weren’t up to my allspice in spice today – it IS Saturday, the busiest day in the Market – I’d be bookstore hopping. It’s Independent Bookstore Day, which in my personal opinion ought to be a national holiday.
In Seattle, it is a holiday of sorts. The Seattle indies run a passport program, as I suspect bookies in other cities do, too. Visit a shop, collect a map, get it stamped, and after just a few visits, start collecting perks.
Why am I such a fan? Well, I do run an independent retail business myself. I know how hard it is. And I know how satisfying it is. What we do matters. When customers buy from a locally-owned and operated shop, a huge percentage of the revenue stays right here. (I can’t be more specific because it varies so much, city to city and biz to biz, but general estimates are 50-70% or better.)
When you shop local, your hard-earned dollars stay local, and they come right back to you. When a customer buys a few ounces of cinnamon or pepper from me, I have money to buy bread from Three Girls Bakery or pancetta from DeLaurenti’s Italian grocer. I have money to pay Sandra, who buys fun new reading glasses, and Kristen, who buys clothes and groceries and more clothes for her girls, and Cayenne, who’s buying ingredients for dinner for her grandfather – you met him, Louis Adams, in Killing Thyme. And the baker buys honey, and the beekeeper buys cheese, and the cheesemonger buys more spice. It’s a circle.
And honestly, are there places more fun than bookstores? (If your answer is yes, don’t tell me.)
They’re seriously magic. When we were teenagers, Kristen worked in one on Broadway only a few blocks from the house where we grew up, where she lives now, and I adored visiting her. The city still has a surprising number of booksellers, and the number is growing. My former law firm staffer, Jen, works at the Mystery Bookshop*** and I love dropping in to see her—I always toddle out with a full tote bag. Independent booksellers love what they do, and they take the time to help you find exactly the right book, often one you had no idea existed when you walked in.
We sell books here, too. Mostly cookbooks and chef lit, but some foodie fiction. Our customers are often surprised, but I can tell, they love it, too.
Spice and books. Pure magic.
Celebrate Independent Bookseller Day with a shopping spree! (I can make suggestions. :) ) Tell me about an independent retailer you love, particularly a bookseller, and Pepper will give one of you an IndieBound gift card, so you can put her money where your mouth is. (Leave a comment, with your email address, to enter. Winner will be chosen Mon, April 29. US addresses only, please.)
*** Sadly, the real Seattle Mystery Bookshop closed in 2017, but it lives on in my pages.
From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books, June 2019):
Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.
As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder.
Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," is nominated for the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.
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