We're back with another #IndieThursday post, this time featuring a local New England bookstore: Willow Books in Acton, MA. As you will see from the pictures below, the store has an expansive children's section and has been a part of the Acton community for sixteen years, so you can bet a lot of local kids grew up with them. Jill Cadogan, the merchandise manager, took some time out to tell us more about the store.
How to find Willow Books:
Location: Acton, Massachusetts
Contact Info: 978-266-0066; firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome Jill! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us about your store. Can you start by telling us what makes Willow Books so unique?
Willow Books is one of the largest independent bookstores in New England. We have been an integral part of our community for 16 years, so we know our customer base very well. Our staff is always ready to find books for any age and any interest. Our store is also a very comfortable place to shop. It is clean, well lit and easy to navigate.
Give us a virtual tour- what do we see when we first walk in? Is there a certain section that jumps out at us? Where do we find the children's section?
The first thing people notice when they come in is how expansive the store is—it is very wide in the front and the sight lines are very pleasing. The children's section takes up the back third of the store and you will frequently find children scattered all around reading on the floor or sitting in the chair and being read to by a parent.
How do you match a child or a parent with a book? What questions do you ask?
We have such a good selection that we can always find the right book, even when someone is not sure what he or she is looking for. The staff members all have favorites that they love to point out, or we can find the right book by asking targeted questions about the child's interest or reading history.
What are your favorite titles to hand sell right now?
For Middle Grade we love the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio and for young adult we love anything by John Green. Poems to Learn by Heart edited by Caroline Kennedy is a favorite for all ages.
Does your bookstore coordinate school visits with authors? Or do you work with local teachers and librarians in some other way?
We have worked with our local schools for a few author visits, but because children love to visit our store we prefer to host the authors here. We always encourage our local teachers to let us know if they have a particular author or title that they would like us to feature in the store. The goal is to get as many kids reading as many books as possible! We find that it only takes one special book to get a child hooked on reading, so the trick is to get that special book into the child's hands.
Why are children's books an integral part of your store?
Our store is located in a suburban market with an excellent school system, so our main customers are families with young children. We love to inspire these young kids to read and enjoy the atmosphere that we create here.
Can interested parties buy books from your website?
We do have a searchable website (www.willowbooks.com). A customer can request that a book be held or order for them through this site.
We can ship the book to them if they would like, but most people prefer to come in and see us to pick up their books.
Browsing in a bookstore is one of the great pleasures in life, and it is sad to think that there are many areas of the country where this is just not possible right now. Our customers are always remarking that they feel lucky to live in a community that has a good bookstore. There are no more local small chains and fewer large ones too, so the fact that we have survived is a testament to how our customers feel about Willow Books. We have worked very hard to stay relevant!
Thanks for a fantastic interview! We hope those of you in Massachusetts will head over to Willow books to check them out!
There are lots of fantastic stores out there, so please leave a comment on this blog or find us on Twitter or Facebook if you work for or shop at a store you would like us to consider for this feature.