November 17th, 2018
On My Mind

Shopping Local

As much I love the ease of shopping online and promote e-commerce since my readers are from around the world, I was moved by a newsletter sent by my dear friend, Lisa Scully, who owns a small-town bookstore. Here are her thoughts on the importance of shopping local:

Are your books more expensive than Amazon?

-Yes.  We buy our books wholesale and then charge you the retail price.  That is generally the price on the book jacket. Amazon sells their books at the wholesale price. They do not add the retail markup.

If your books are more expensive than Amazon then why on earth would I ever buy one from you?

-Yes, it will cost you more to purchase a book from us. There’s no getting around that fact. However, let’s think about what would happen to our community if everyone just shopped online. Everything sold locally in Locust Valley can be purchased online, and in most cases for less. So, yes, in the short term, that puts money in your pocket. More to spend on a day to day basis. That sounds pretty enticing, right? Sounds good to me too, until I start digging and thinking more about that.

-What do you mean? More money in my pocket sounds great, especially at this time of year!

-Let’s review the costs of buying a book on Amazon.  Let’s say a hardcover fiction book (how about a John Grisham since he’s really popular) costs you $13.96 on Amazon.  If you buy it from the Locust Valley Bookstore it is going to cost you 29.95. What happens to that extra money you’ve paid?
-It is used to pay salaries to four hardworking local residents who can therefore afford to live here, pay taxes, shop locally, eat in our restaurants and put their money to work back into the community.
-It goes to pay rent and taxes so that there is an attractive store on the main thoroughfare into Locust Valley.
-We also use part of these funds to make the store look nice, to nurture a place where people can visit, talk to one another, provide nice gift wrapping, compare book ideas and browse new titles.

As Chubby Hubby says, this is a multiplier effect.  That extra money gets spent again and again.  It stays in the community.  So that extra $15 you paid becomes more like $100 for our town.  This isn’t just true at the Locust Valley Bookstore.  That multiplier happens every time you shop locally.

Why should I care about the stores in our town? I never go into Locust Valley anymore. I just shop online or in NYC!

-A vibrant, attractive town is better for the price of our houses, and it brings people into our community which is ultimately better for our schools and overall economic vitality of the area where we live. It also helps pay for important local services like fire and police, so it is better for safety too. Do you really want to live in a place that has boarded up storefronts, no restaurants, nothing to buy?

We aren’t trying to be preachy. We all shop online (yes, even the Locust Valley Bookstore is guilty/have you ever tried to find “institutional style” bookends locally? Not possible!) But, for shopping? For Christmas and other holidays? There are so many great stores in Locust Valley! When was the last time you walked around? You can do it here!  This town needs all of us!  We have great schools, we have strong neighborhood organizations, we have people who plant trees and decorate at the holidays. We need to keep this all alive! Every one of us!

Come see us soon! Anyone who brings us a dark chocolate turkey before Thanksgiving will get $5 off a regular priced hardcover book.

Please follow us on Instagram (@locustvalleybookstore) and Facebook and thank you for your support!


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  • I think it is such a sad state of affairs that online shopping is the ‘norm’. I have always been a community shopper; and felt even more patriotic about local retail while I had my own shop. In my heart, I know the local town center will return in strength; a gathering spot, post office, schools, shops, markets, hardware stores…just as cooking shows are embraced by those that cannot and do not cook; for the love of a home’s center…

    ellen marieNovember 17th, 2018  12:57 PM

  • A book store run by someone who loves books (not a big soulless corporation), who curates (just like you do Preston) all the stories and information out there in the world to provide us readers with one or two comprehensive world views, provides an invaluable service. In the best case scenario, such a store can even become a real-life community–think Kramer Books or Politics & Prose in D.C., where authors come to hold readings and where many a meet cute has taken place. (Speaking of, remember the movie “You’ve Got Mail”?) You’re paying for all these intangibles too!

    The TropicalistNovember 17th, 2018  2:45 PM

  • Agree! Great local stores provide a curated selection of books, wares, clothes etc. No searching through the dross which is a time saver in itself. The interactions with others while shopping locally cannot be replicated on line. More than happy to pay extra for service, local employment and stylish stores for a bit of in real life ‘just looking’ .

    ClaireNovember 17th, 2018  4:26 PM

  • My favorite bookstore — they really know their stuff!

    PatriciaNovember 17th, 2018  4:46 PM

  • I love this interview and appreciate the quality-of-life aspects of shopping local. Life is just richer in towns/cities with a thriving local base of business and retail. So many of the main streets in the small towns in my state have just dried up due to online shopping.
    I especially love the last paragraph – “This town needs all of us! . . . We need to keep this all alive!”

    PaulaNovember 17th, 2018  10:49 PM

  • Local bookstores are the best – I love browsing, getting introduced to new authors by the very well read staff, reading to my grandkids in the store’s children’s reading nook. I buy all my books there, the only time I order on Amazon is if a book is out of print and I buy it used from a third party seller..

    KathyNovember 18th, 2018  7:26 AM

  • My store is right next to Locust Valley Bookstore. I really appreciate Lisa’s newsletter. Locust Valley is a charming small community with beautiful shops run by wonderful people. We all appreciate the local shoppers!! Thanks for posting it Preston.

    MauraNovember 18th, 2018  8:55 AM

  • Thank you for sharing this! A perspective I don’t believe many think about or are even aware of regarding their communities.

    I have relatives that live in the rural Midwest & they are very devoted to their local town grocery store. Others drive an hour+ to the new Walmart in the nearest ‘big’ town. Their rationale: If we don’t buy/support it, the local store will not be there for the town.

    I love small bookstores. It is a lasting ‘experience/feeling’ — you feel enriched & brighter & happier after having visited!


    b.November 18th, 2018  10:58 AM

  • I often wonder where everyone will spend there days if the malls and shopping centers disappear? Shopping is a leisure, social activity for many and brings great enjoyment. If you want the stores to be there though, you have to be willing to patronize them. My daughter refuses to buy from Amazon for this reason. I am less rigid, but I get it.

    AprilNovember 18th, 2018  2:19 PM

  • Shopping locally gives back to our communities ensuring their vitality and longevity…and is a conscientious effort to improve our quality of life. I love connecting with the shop keepers and sales people!

    Evie SquadrilleNovember 19th, 2018  10:13 AM

  • This is real food for thought. I love the charm of a bustling small downtown and it is the shops and merchants that make these places so special. A charming small community in my area is making a big event out of Small Business Saturday this coming weekend and I can’t wait to participate. While the convenience of 24/7 online ordering is hard to deny, I love the experience of a brick and mortar unique store with caring, thoughtful proprietors.

    LeslieNovember 19th, 2018  2:30 PM

  • “We buy our books wholesale and then charge you the retail price.  That is generally the price on the book jacket. Amazon sells their books at the wholesale price. They do not add the retail markup.
    Let’s say a hardcover fiction book (how about a John Grisham since he’s really popular) costs you $13.96 on Amazon.  If you buy it from the Locust Valley Bookstore it is going to cost you 29.95.”

    So this bookstore NEVER discounts and Amazon NEVER makes any profits? Unlikely! A 53% margin gives plenty of room for flexibility. I’m a firm believer in shopping locally, but my local stores do not more than double the online prices.

    JOHN T. SHEANovember 20th, 2018  6:22 PM


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