Monday, July 12, 2010
wearing bookstore love
I’ve always been a sucker for a good bookstore T-shirt, and a couple times this season I’ve worn my “Betty’s Bookshop” shirt to my appointment with Betty at her bookshop.
In the past I’ve avoided this because it felt a little tacky. Not tacky, desperate. Even though Michael Boggs at Carmichael’s in Louisville assured me that “we LOVE shameless pandering” when I apologized for practicing same by wearing the store’s shirt the day of our appointment, I worried that my enthusiasm might be interpreted as fishing for better orders. (As if booksellers could be bought so cheaply!)
But Carmichael’s quickly put me at ease on that score. And as a bonus I was offered the Carmichael’s staff discount at Heine Brothers coffee next door when they noticed my attire!
But after getting reassurance on wearing store shirts in-store, I began to fret about the trickier issue of wearing one store’s T-shirt while visiting another store. (You’re thinking the book business can’t be in such dire straits if this is what sales reps have time to worry about.)
One day in the Twin Cities last month, I wore my Common Good Books shirt (a nice, black, long-sleeve number) to my meeting with Sue Zumberge at the St. Paul store in the morning. Without thinking, I still had it on when I visited Magers & Quinn, a fine Minneapolis bookseller and a competitor, in the afternoon.
I was momentarily mortified, but I should have remembered what a collegial bunch independent booksellers are. I wouldn’t recommend wearing an Amazon.com shirt (if such exist) to a neighborhood bookshop, but at M&Q the Common Good shirt just got generous compliments.
Mary Magers said she was thinking about shirts for the store and we chatted about what makes for a good bookshop T-shirt. What are the design elements that would make me actually buy a shirt?
- Good, strong graphics that emphasize the store as a place.
- Good, strong colors. Black always works.
- The store location, a crucial detail! In the past it seems as if people have downplayed that aspect, but with localmania in full swing I’m happy to see names of actual towns on bookstore shirts and logos.
A short slogan or tagline is fine if it's part of the store brand. But please no goofy sayings. I’m sure I’m not the only potential buyer to get excited about the front of a T-shirt only to notice- just in time- some absurd slogan or saying across the back of it. I would not be caught dead in a “Reading is sexy” shirt no matter how much I loved the store.