This month for Indie Thursday, I’m writing about Arlington’s One More Page Books & More, owned and operated by Eileen McGervey.
For Eileen McGervey, One More Page is not just a business; it’s a passion. She did enough research at the beginning to know that she wouldn’t make her fortune in bookselling. In fact, she eschews the idea. Her definition of success is simply “to be able to pay the bills” and keep the doors of her store open.
But perhaps McGervey isn’t giving herself enough credit. She’s done more than just keep her doors open; she’s created a community around the store. Author readings and wine tastings attract full houses, and the friendly staff at One More Page has introduced customers to countless new books, authors, and publishers.
The American Booksellers Association (ABA) reports that small businesses engaged in efforts like the “Buy Local” campaigns–as One More Page has–have discovered new customers and a loyal base of existing customers. Perhaps more importantly, these indie stores “have experienced markedly stronger revenue growth,” including a 5.2 percent increase in holiday sales reported last January, versus a 0.8 percent growth reported by stores who do not highlight their role in the community.
“One of the other things that really surprised me at the beginning was how supportive and helpful all the other indie booksellers were,” McGervey says. Before the store opened, McGervey met with the owners of Politics & Prose, who helped her with her business plan and offered advice on running a bookstore. “That would be unheard-of in my previous career,” McGervey exclaims.
Independent bookstores offer more than just an event space or a place to buy the book you’ve been looking for, McGervey says. Most of the customers who come through her doors are not looking for a specific book. “They don’t have in their head what they want,” McGervey explains:
They want to browse. They wanna see what’s out, wanna talk to somebody. They just want something different. Or something similar to what they’ve read, but not the same author. And that’s the beauty of a physical store.
A large part of Eileen McGervey’s good cheer comes from the overwhelming support she has received from the community. “Customers just come in and tell us how they’re going to do anything they can to make sure we succeed. I never would have expected that,” she admits.
“You think, ‘OK, this is my dream, but how many other people feel committed to making it succeed?’” she says. The answer, as it turns out, is many. “There’s definitely a spirit banding people together.”