The top-selling sidelines at the Book Table in Oak Park, Ill. are
tried-and-true favorites: printed calendars. "Despite the fact that every
single electronic gadget we own has a calendar on it, we still sell them at
huge rates," said owner Jason Smith. About 40% of the store's calendar
sales come in December and account for 5% of the month's revenue.
Calendars featuring works by Frida
Kahlo and other artists are the main draws. "You name the artist, we do
well with it," said Smith. Another popular selection is The Reading
Woman, available as a wall calendar and an
engagement calendar, which showcases paintings from the 17th to the 20th
centuries that depict women reading.
The Book Table regularly does a
brisk sidelines business, which Smith credits in large part to the store's
location across the street from a movie theater. "A good number of our
customers are people whose only purpose of walking in
the store is to kill 10 or 20 minutes," he said. "Sidelines
are one of those things that can get people buying. Even folks who have never
bought a book from us happily buy sidelines all year round."
The store carries moderately priced
items that rarely exceed $25. Along with calendars, journals, cards and reading
glasses are more unusual sidelines like one of this season's bestsellers, the
Seven Year Pen from Seltzer. Reported to hold enough ink to write two meters a
day for seven years, the pens come in bold colors and are decorated with images
like an exclamation point, an ice cream cone and a skull and crossbones with
the slogan "Need Coffee."
Another Book Table sideline
specialty: Meri Meri cupcake kits, which include 24 baking cups and decorative
toppers. 15 different kits each have a distinct theme (like Fairy Wishes, Fire
Truck, Cute Kittens, Groovy Party) and are displayed with copies of Who You
Callin' Cupcake?: 75 In-Your-Face Recipes that Reinvent the Cupcake by Michelle Garcia and Vinny Garcia, 500
Cupcakes: The Only Cupcake Compendium You'll Ever Need by Fergal Connolly and Karen Tack and Alan
Richardson's Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone
Can Make and What's New,
Cupcake?: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion.
For kids the store has Rich Frog's
flashlights with turtles, butterflies, penguins and other critters on them
(batteries included). The young at heart will appreciate Smith's favorite
sideline, the Rubiks Cube Clock from Made by Humans. The whimsical timepiece is
based on the puzzle game and displays different information--time, alarm, date
and temperature--when it's twisted. "It's a great nostalgia item for
For those who want more ominous holiday listening than
Christmas music, Mechanicsburg
Mystery Bookshop in Mechanicsburg, Pa., has just the thing: Cape Cod Radio
Mystery Theater CDs featuring original performances by a grass-roots theater
group seeking to revive and expand mystery theater. The spooky CDs are
highlighted in a "stocking stuffers" display that also features
notepads, ornaments, jewelry and other items with a range of prices.
sidelines at Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop are LightWedge book lights.
"We sell as many of them during the holiday season as we do during the
rest of the year," said store owner Debbie Beamer. Both hardcover and
paperback sized book lights are in stock, along with protective cases,
batteries and cleaning solution.
Book lights sell as standalones
and are included in gift baskets. "Customers are fascinated with our gift
baskets because of the books and other items we choose to match the
theme," Beamer said. The Book Lover's Gift Basket includes a book light,
cleaner, magnifier bookmark, bookrest, the store's custom-created note cards
and one or two book-themed mysteries, like Joan Hess's page-turners starring
bookstore proprietor Claire Malloy.
gift baskets are on show in the shop as well as on the store's website. There
are mystery-themed arrangements for cat and dog lovers, wine enthusiasts,
scrap-bookers, gardeners and Sherlock Holmes fans, and the store will custom
create baskets according to recipients' interests and gift-givers' budgets.
Beamer donates several baskets each year to local charities to raffle off.
selling well at the store are Mystery Jigsaw Puzzle Games, the History's
Mysteries Card Game, a "rummy-like" game based on a History Channel
series and Franklin's Oxford Pagemark Dictionary, a lightweight electronic
dictionary that also has games, a calculator, a local/world clock and more.
Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop
carries its own line of blank note cards. One is adorned with a stack of books
and a quotation by Thomas Carlyle, "May blessings be upon the head of
Cadmus, the Phoenicians or whoever it was that invented books." A second
design shows a woman with a huge book on her lap; across the top of the card in
Latin, and translated at the bottom, is a sentiment especially appropriate at
the holidays: "Too many books, too little time! (and not enough money)
(and not enough space)."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt