As we wrap up our first full calendar year, and the holiday season is behind us, we’ve had a chance to reflect. 2014 had so many great moments, unpredictable and wonderful, it was difficult remembering our favorites. Many of the moments are behind-the-scenes, like when Hilary was awarded a certificate by the Ann Arbor Police for stopping a robbery outside, or when we hosted a variety of authors on Small Business Saturday to work as “volunteer booksellers.”
Here are a few of the bigger moments that helped define this past year, though there are certainly too many to list:
5. Kind quotes from customers.
I was helping a woman last month with her book selections, and when I walked her out of the store, she turned to me and said, “I’ve never been here, but I’ll be back. This just feels … it just feels like Ann Arbor.”
Something about that comment, about that particular woman, a woman who had lived in Ann Arbor for 30-some years… I don’t know. It just really made me happy.
Another moment came when a customer came in and said, “I got a tattoo of something I saw on your typewriter.” She showed me her arm, explained the story, and we re-enacted the scene and the tattoo of the word “love.” We have all sorts of great anecdotes from our public typewriter, but a tattoo? Definitely my favorite.
4. Celebrating our one year anniversary.
On March 31st, 2014, we crossed a major mental milestone: Celebrating our one year anniversary. We knew the first year would be the hardest, most difficult year of our lives, filled with stress and anxiety and heart palpitations. And we also knew if we could make it to that one-year marker, we could make it to the two-year marker, and the three-year marker, and so on.
The weekend-long celebration was great: Hundreds of people came out to see tons of authors read at the all-weekend festivus. The weekend-long celebration was capped with a poetry reading by Ray McDaniel and Keith Taylor. It was a great way to conclude Year One.
A special bonus was that Hilary’s father surprised Hilary at the store. He flew all the way from San Francisco, and didn’t tell Hilary, walked down the stairs, and surprised her! It was a special moment.
3. David Sedaris reads at Literati!
Sometime around March, we got an email asking if we had “interest” in hosting David Sedaris in our store. After a few minutes of internal freak-out, we of course replied to the email, “Why yes, that does interest us.”
We wanted David Sedaris Day to be very special, so we closed down. Based on the hundred or so people who showed up to purchase tickets the week beforehand, we knew there would be a big turnout for the signing line, but we really had no idea. Even though it was raining, around 350 people attended the event, and some even waited until 1am to meet David.
Afterwards, we received a very nice postcard from David praising John’s introduction and our “charming” bookstore. It was our first major event in the store, and though we learned a lot about line management, it was an intimate and unforgettably fun day.
2. When we announced our partnership with The Espresso Bar.
Sometimes you come up with crazy ideas on-the-fly. Most the time, those ideas never go anywhere. But sometimes, they come true.
One day we were walking around and wondered, “Hey, wouldn’t it be neat to put a coffee shop upstairs? A place to do events and readings, so our lower level can be 100% dedicated to books?”
Several months and a million conversations later, we partnered with The Espresso Bar to add a new 1300 square foot space on the 2nd floor of our building. The space is still a work-in-progress, but we’ve been able to add a dedicated children’s section, curated book displays, and a seating area for coffee and events. I’m biased, but there’s just something nice about reading while sipping coffee, overlooking downtown Ann Arbor.
1. When Nick proposed to Kelsey.
I’m a sucker for a good love story, but I never thought I’d actually see one take place in our bookstore. A few weeks ago, Nick said he was going to propose to one of our employees, Kelsey, in our upstairs space. Nick and Kelsey love coffee shops and bookstores. It’s their “thing.” So when they go to coffee shops, she reads and he draws. Here was the plan: When Sandy brought them coffee, he’d play their song on the speakers. Nick would then wonder out loud how nice it was that they were playing their song. Then he’d show her his drawing, which would say, “Will you marry me?”
I think we were more nervous than Nick. He wanted me to snap a picture of the moment. The night before, I don’t think I slept. That morning, Sandy’s hands were shaking as he was making their coffee! We were all so nervous. The song began to play. Sandy delivered the coffee. Nick turned his notebook and showed her the drawing. Then he got down on one knee.
She said yes.
It was a moment I’ll never forget.
Thank you all for an incredible year. We can’t wait to see what 2015 brings…