Posts Tagged ‘Remainder Books’

Burlington Christian Bookstore Adds 2nd Location Devoted to General Market Remainders

September 28, 2015 2 comments

Just when it seems that all we hear are stories of people either giving up on bookselling or feeling forced to throw in the towel, today we have a story of a store that’s actually expanding its bookselling presence in its home city.

Last month Jack Huisman and the team at Family Christian Bookstore — one of the largest Christian bookstores in Ontario — located in Burlington (a city of 176,000 in the Greater Toronto Area) opened the doors on a new project called Froogal Books and More just one building, six retail stores, and a few short steps south of its present location on one of the city’s busiest streets.

Froogal Books and More

I need to pause here and say: That’s a great logo. I see franchise possibilities written all over this!

The website itself is powered by Book Manager and offers full online shopping possibilities which on the weekend boasted 4,022 titles of which 3,728 are described as “Bargain Books” and — this I found very interesting — 116 are listed as “Regular Stock,” which includes everything from Goodnight Moon to Stephen King to the To Kill a Mockingbird sequel. (Not all items in this category were book items.) Surprisingly, only 71 books were listed as “Religion” and these were mostly titles with great general market crossover potential. The new store is clearly meant to have a very distinct identity.

The website currently contains a photo archive which chronicles the journey from taking possession of the store at the end of June to completion and grand opening at the end of August. We haven’t yet seen the store in person, but hope to visit late October.

Froogal - Bargain Books - Burlington Ontario

The store’s Facebook page maintains an unusually clean and uniform layout presenting the latest titles on offer.

Would your store consider something like this?

Those of us who deal with remainder product already have some expertise in this part of the larger book market. (Besides trade books and remainder books, other branches of our industry include the premium or specialty market, the textbook market, used books, antiquarian books, the self-publishing or vanity press market, and books like the Harlequin titles which are part of the periodical or magazine paradigm. Then there are trade market specialties like sci-fi stores, cookbook stores, children’s bookstores, etc.) Some of us already have a breadth of supplier relationships that would make this possible. We already know our local market well and the possibilities for partnerships and media with the best advertising reach.

On the other hand, for our family it would mean investing in products we’ve never committed dollars to before, which might include things that would raise the eyebrows of clientele in the other store. I’m sure that the team at Froogal bring their family values to the new store, but you would still want to keep the business units and customers separate.

The other challenge is running an off-price, general-market, liquidation type of store but staying closed on Sundays, as Froogal currently is. (Salvation Army and Bibles for Missions stores are closed Sundays, but they’re in the Thrift Store category selling used goods.)

On the other hand, diversifying within the same industry creates a number of synergies, not to mention in this case having a second store that’s less than a minute walk from the first. The “and More” in their name also leaves open the possibilities of adding any other liquidation commodity that makes a good fit, though trial and error may define what that fit looks like.

We’ll be watching this with great interest.

Family Christian Books in Burlington is in no way related to the Family Christian chain in the United States. Depending on who you are dealing with, the remainder book market may includes discontinued titles, publisher overstock and (sometimes) hurt (slightly damaged) books.


Book Depot Launches New Website

While some suppliers are content to operate with websites that are, for lack of a better term, totally useless, Book Depot, the Canadian remainder company located outside of St. Catharines, Ontario has a website that is a model of speed, intuitive search, and multiple features.   We often send wholesale companies there to see how, in our humble opinion, it should be done.

So why is the company revamping its website on September 7th?   One guesses that the company is simply pushing themselves to beat their own best.   The company is of interest to readers of this blog because of their frequent sell-offs of remainders, hurts and publisher overstock from Harvest House, Baker Books, Harvest House and Thomas Nelson.   There are no per-title minimums, and pricing is usually reasonable, except on Thomas Nelson, where the 58-60% discounts are often available by dealing direct.

The new website offers unqualified searching — you don’t have to say whether you’re entering a title, author, publisher or ISBN parameter — and then offers you a second search tab to enter other terms.   In other words, every search is potentially an “advanced” search.

The company backs up its online image with fairly quick turnaround and product that is cleaned up and shipped in boxes made to withstand the toughest shipping conditions.

Offline, however, it’s a different story.   Book Depot is an example of a company that is so streamlined online that it has trouble dealing with exceptions, dealing with inquiries, or troubleshooting in general that is attempted outside of the online environment.   Their e-mail response rate is less than 50%, and their phone call return rate is in the 60-65% range. We were assigned a sales person several years ago, but after months of unanswered mail, were told he had left the company much, much earlier.

Book Depot has preferred customers who get to see advance lists of product and/or pre-purchase titles before they are offered to the those of us that are the ‘bottom feeder’ customers. One Christian book dealer in Ontario smugly told me that he had an “in” with the company principles and could get deals and product that I can’t. (There was actually more to the statement that I can’t print here.) And loyalty doesn’t matter as much as volume — we’ve been a customer of BD since the days they were known as York True Remainders.

From now until the end of August, they’re offering $25 and $50 rebates to customers who meet minimum purchase levels; but if you don’t know that in advance — and having cleared two carts through this month, we didn’t — you’re out of luck.

I guess stores picking through the remainder market are expected to shut up and take what they can get, though competition in the Christian market from Wholesale Christian Books in Racine, Wisconsin who are now shipping to Canada (see tomorrow’s post) will certainly shake things up a little.

Pictured above is the old website, and below is the new.   Both the Canadian (ending in .ca) and U.S. site (ending in .com) will change.  Wholesale customers with product sitting in carts on the old site need to clear those out before September 6th.