January 2019: Meditations on the Year

January 2019

 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 seems as if it were at least five years ago, instead of just one year. I've looked at the photos of the bookstore from the second week in January when the interior was completely destroyed, and I can recall the horror and sorrow I felt when I entered the store that January morning. 

And yet . . .

My memories of our recovery period are not of slogging through three terrible, frustrating months of rebuilding. We did not have time to wallow in sorrow as water continued to flow and waterlogged ceiling tiles fell into the store on January 9 -- we had to get to work immediately, dismantle the office computers and send them off to their new, temporary home at Wood Lumber, and notify the appropriate folks who would help us get the bookstore back in business as quickly as possible.

We were extremely fortunate. There was no dispute from our insurer, our landlord wanted us back in business, and repair work fell into place: first the electrical light grid and ceiling were replaced, followed by the installation of a new floor. We plotted the new sales space and a smaller but more efficient office was designed. Throughout the rebuilding, we were able to redesign the bookstore to our specifications. Eight Cousins truly became "our" store. We re-opened in three months, quite an achievement, one that was due to the determination of the staff and an incredible amount of support from numerous people.

In particular, we acknowledge: the Falmouth community, the publishing industry and our individual reps, Main Street merchants (in particular The Green-Eyed Daisy and Bean & Cod), the entire staff at Wood Lumber, Alissa Hike Harris at Salt Architecture, Falmouth Jewish Congregation, and Waquoit Congregational Church. I apologize if there is anyone I've missed; the outpouring from the community certainly buoyed our spirits, and all of us are grateful for the response.

Now, one year later, the bookstore has been up and running at full capacity. Our summer and holiday seasons were successful! I believe that the experience of facing a disaster and resolutely working together as a united staff to rebuild our store has strengthened our commitment to Eight Cousins and its continued success in serving the Falmouth community. We are justifiably proud of our new store and ready to face the challenges coming our way in 2019.

~ Mary Fran

 

The year started as usual with all the plans in place and the shine of a new year. However, with Eight Cousins flooding on January 9, the year turned into a roller coaster ride of events that show how resilient we can be and how important our community is to us.

After the flood, the Eight Cousins' employees, Bowman Builders and Stuart Rothman (our property owner) sprang into action and we were open for the April school vacation. The Wood Lumber team provided support in a variety of ways and we are grateful to them for all they did.

Our regular employees were asked to roll with the many changes we made in layout and operations. They have not disappointed us. We added a group of young employees for the summer; some of them are working this winter and continue to add sparkle and an electric charge to the store. When in doubt about the future, spend some time with one of them.

While this column is meant to focus on Eight Cousins, another event this year had such huge impact on my personal life it is difficult not to mention it. In October, my mother passed away. She was the one who nurtured my love of reading. Every visit of my adult life included catching up on what we were reading and I continue to select books with what she would like in mind.

I worked some evenings during the holiday season. It was joyful to see so many long-time friends come in to do their holiday shopping. Seeing them in the store gave us a chance to visit and share our love of books. I also met some customers I did not know, but who consider the trip to Eight Cousins a holiday shopping tradition. It was a pleasure to meet them and share their holiday plans.

In the end it is all about the community we create, we nurture, and we live in. It helps us through the many challenges we face. Welcome to 2019, whatever it may bring, we are ready, 2018 provided we are resilient.

Thank you for making Falmouth so special.

~ Eileen

 

Each of the past four years has had a theme. When we first purchased the store in 2015, the theme was renovation. That year we closed for two days to fix the walls and install new carpet. The renovation theme continued throughout the year as we evaluated different aspects of the store to decide what we wanted to keep and what we wanted to rethink. The second year theme was revision. We changed the store logo and tag, but we also discussed our own internal vision for the store. The third year was about reorganization. We clarified operations and worked on planning. Last year's theme was a bit of a surprise, but it became regeneration. Fortunately we had the benefit of three years of experience to help us rebuild.

We've reviewed, regrown, restructured, redesigned, recreated. This fifth year, it's time to utilize the foundation that we've been building. This year is all about development. 

Development has already been part of our internal conversations in 2019 as we have identified ideas and topics we want to learn more about during the year. We're looking at our book departments and our gift items and considering where and how we want to expand. We've been thinking and talking about outreach in the community and further development with the amazing Falmouth organizations we partner with already.

On a personal note, for the past four years learning how to run a bookstore has been my primary focus and it has been a blast. Nevertheless, now I'm excited to do all the things I've been postponing until "I have more time." My responsibilities take less time now that they are more comfortable. I've been signing up for classes and workshops and am reminded how much I love being in the classroom, whether as a student or the teacher. I've also come to appreciate all the teaching and learning opportunities within a small business and in particular within publishing.

As always, we love hearing comments and suggestions. What ideas and thoughts do you have for us as we develop? Do you have suggestions for events, programming, community service? Please share any ideas you have with us. Or tell us about developments in your own life. We love hearing from you. 

~ Sara