Believe it or not, December 1st marks three full years for Bennett’s Books! Who would have thought that our little bookstore in the heart of the quiet Lower Connecticut River Valley would be able to survive that long? During our time, we’ve produced thousands of happy customers, made dozens of new friends, and Bennett’s Books has become a cornerstone of our community. It hasn’t been easy - only through sheer determination and the generosity of our neighbors have we been able to stick around this long. At this point though, we need to decide whether our endeavor can continue into 2018 and beyond.
Bennett’s Books was started with the intention of improving our community and adding value to our region. We are doing our best to live up to that goal and by most measures, we are succeeding. Unfortunately, it is becoming prohibitively expensive to operate the store under our current model. At the beginning of this year, we started a Community Supported Bookstore (CSB) program - the only one in Connecticut and one of only a few in the entire country. The CSB definitely helped - 2017 has been our best year yet - but more is needed to ensure our survival into 2018.
In order for Bennett’s Books to continue, we need to expand the CSB between now and the end of January. We are looking for somewhere between 300 and 500 new members, depending on membership level. This may seem like a large number, but it’s actually less than 1% of the people who live within 10 miles of the store. That said, as reasonable as that goal is, we are not at all confident that we can reach it - maybe having a used bookstore, especially a community-focused bookstore, in the age of Trump is an unrealistic undertaking. Nonetheless, we’re committed to persisting. But to do so, we need your help - we need you to become a member.
We have membership levels for all income levels, and with each level members will receive benefits that exceed that cost of membership. If you read a lot, the benefits will far exceed the cost. Additionally, this year we have added a new and different type of membership level: Daenerys. With this level members will receive seven books, either all at once or spread out over the year. We created this level for folks that want to support the bookstore but may not be able to visit us very often. We’ve also officially added a level just for children: Dorothy.
Again, our goal is between 300 and 500 new members. More specifically, we are aiming to raise at least $15,000. That’s about half of what we need to be a truly successful bookstore. It will help us expand our hours, provide for some much-needed improvements in the store, and allow us to do some advertising. We believe these three steps will bring in more customers, which will allow us to make more money. If that happens, and we can eventually reach $29,000 for the year, 100% of our profits after that will go to charity. In other words, with store improvements, expanded hours, and advertising, we firmly believe that we can become a profitable business - and all our profits will directly help the community.
We will be seeking new members from now until the end of January. If we can come close to our membership goal, we can guarantee staying open for the entirety of 2018. If not, we’ll likely have to close (and if we do, everyone who signed up to become a member will get all of their money back). So, we’re asking for you to support our mission and help us truly become a Community Supported Bookstore by becoming a member. By doing so you’ll get awesome benefits (books!), and you’ll be helping to make the world a better place.