Search This Blog

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Welcome to Green Bean Books!

This week for #IndieThursday, we celebrate one of our favorite Northwest stores: Green Bean Books in Portland, OR. Not only does the store only sell children's books, but they offer a 20% discount to teachers and host an annual wine & cheese educator night! Earl Dizon, one of the store's booksellers, kindly agreed to answer some questions for us.

Tell us about your store, what makes Green Bean Books unique?
One of the things that make Green Bean Books unique is that we have lots of things (besides books) to find and discover! You may not have thought you needed a finger puppet or a fake mustache or pom-pom pets until you see them. Also, when we finish a book we love, we can’t wait to share it. Our fingers practically twitch thinking about the shelf talkers we’ll be making for the books!

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 you see is the display of themed and new books. (Unless, of course, it’s the yeti in the window that caught your attention walking by; our monthly window displays have definitely stopped people in their tracks!) Your eyes look up and see the shelves of picture books- all the colorful spines, the occasional face out. To your right, you notice there are some shelves dedicated to young adult and grown up fiction and non-fiction. But, again, it’s the picture books that are drawing you in so you walk there- unless got distracted by the books in the irreverent parenting section. You see a wooden box that says “Look Inside” and like Alice in Wonderland you do what you’re told and see a miniature diorama that depicts a scene from a recent favorite book of ours. You marvel at it and again like Alice you find yourself in a wonderland of words. Titles you remember from childhood jump out at you and you can spend hours just rereading these classics. But if you can tear yourself away and turn the corner, you see more books categorized by subject- Science, Animals and Pets, Biographies, Foreign Language, Pirates, Superheroes, and Fairies and Princesses, just to name a few. There are shelves of miniature food toys and tiny colored pencils, wooden animals, and paper things to construct. Another wooden box awaits you in this room.

A cozy sitting area calls you, inviting you to sit down in the comfortable cushions of our big green sofa. But you walk on and see another room. You mutter to yourself that the store is bigger than it looks from outside. There are more books (of course!) and a play area, and a secret bargain shelf in the back!

You notice the outdoor deck and, during the spring and summer, the beautiful weeping mulberry bush is in full bloom! You can crawl under the leaves for a little getaway with your book. It truly feels like a magical reading fort!

You pass by ancient repurposed vending machines where you can buy tokens and get a set of unlikely friends, adopt a tiny baby with a birth certificate, or buy a mini-journal and pencil set. By the register you see a big red machine that used to vend cigarettes but inside are muskrat finger puppets with names like Colonel Fuzz and Snoop and Princess Puff. Then there are more tiny things to marvel at- including miniature sets for our older customers! There’s a calendar of all the events we have in store. You think of who you can bring to the different story times or to the multiple craft activities or to the monthly puppet show. A tote bag to put all your purchases in catches your eye. And you think you’re done, you’ve walked full circle, but you see a sign “Where is Lowly Worm? He’s hiding somewhere around the store. Can you find him?” And, off you go to find him so you can tell your friends you had the complete Green Bean Books experience!

How do you match a child or a parent with a book? What questions do you ask?
We do our best to get to know our customers and the intended reader. Sometimes a person just needs to be introduced to the right book that would make them a lifelong reader. We ask what their recent favorites are, what interests they have, and what they don’t like.

What are your favorite titles to hand sell right now?
The picture book Perfectly Percy immediately caught my eye because of Paul Schmid’s illustrations. It’s just too cute. I love telling people that it’s about a porcupine who loves balloons and how that proves to be a problem. Another picture book that stands out is You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey. It’s a great introduction to the concept of how everything is connected with one another. Soyeon Kim’s diorama artwork is beautiful. I am a huge fan of Christopher Healy’s League of Princes series. Familiar characters from fairy tales set out to prove to the world and to themselves what makes a hero in The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. I was able to read an advanced copy of The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle and it was as funny and clever as the first one. I can’t wait to handsell this one too!

Does your bookstore coordinate school visits with authors? Or do you work with local teachers and librarians in some other way?
We offer teachers 20% off new books for their classrooms. We’re also more than happy to help them if they need book recommendations around a certain theme. Plus we have our annual Educator Night where we share our favorite picks for the school year, offer exciting giveaways, and pass out wine and treats. When you mix wine and books, you can’t go wrong!

Why are children’s books an integral part of your store?
Our mission is to share our love of reading with kids and their families!
We primarily sell children’s books. Some people don’t realize just how many different kinds of children’s books there are- not just board and picture books and more than just bedtime stories and fairy tales.  We have sections just for pirates, robots, dinosaurs, fairies and mermaids too!

Can interested parties buy books from your website?
There is a link on our website that directs them to buy books online. A customer told us she tells her mother who lives out of town to buy books there so they can still be supporting Green Bean Books from far away.

Why are independent bookstores so important to the future of reading?
Independent bookstores are important to the future of reading because they’re one of the few remaining places where people can get personalized recommendations. Again, it’s about finding the right book for the right reader. We also work hard to offer customers a unique experience through all our events and interactive displays and machines. We offer scads of events throughout the year.  Everything from biweekly story times and monthly puppet shows to our annual kids’ poetry reading, Super Hero and Fairy Day!

How to Find Green Bean Books:
Location: 1600 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR
Phone: (503) 954-2354

Facebook: Green Bean Books
Twitter: @GreenBeanBooks

No comments:

Post a Comment