It’s our second anniversary as owners of Little Professor! Here are some reflections on our progress thus far, as well a look ahead at what’s to come.
Two years ago, Meredith & I had a thesis that local was reviving, print was on the rise, and that increasingly, our digital lives have left us fatigued, confused, and objectified. We imagined creating a space to celebrate reading would also foster relationships, community, and the joy of true connectivity.
As we look to our own third year, and the 49th year of Little Professor, we feel a renewed sense of purpose. How can we take the lessons of the past two years and keep building excitement for reading, community participation, and membership? Well, we have a few ideas… :)
How's the "community hub" idea going?
When you choose to focus on authentic, in-person experiences and dialogue, a strange thing happens. People are kind! We enjoy each other! Our neighbors are our friends, even if, or maybe especially when, we disagree. We get rid of spite, objectification, us vs. them, and loneliness. We cherish seeing each other, form thick community bonds, build new social fabric, and participate in something that feels closer to our true self.
And guess what? It’s working beautifully! We’ve had two great years of growth and have learned so much about how a community hub should function and what types of events, communication, and products our customers & members love. We thrive on curating a space to invite browsing, conversation, exploration, and activity for kids & adults alike. As one member recently said, “Everyone needs a place. You create an atmosphere where you can support local business, literature, find your next best read, have a cup of coffee and start reading then and there. How inviting and inspiring!”
And, I’ll just pause here and say if you’re still looking for “your place,” we wholeheartedly invite you to come to LP and make it yours.
Membership Benefits Expanding
Close to 1,300 of you are the absolute anchor of our store, and consistently say things like, “I haven’t bought books on Amazon since I joined.” We literally wouldn’t be in business without you, and the fact that so many of you rely on LP for all your book needs is an amazing gift. And yet, our hope is to make the “value” of membership be so high, that it wouldn’t make sense not to join.
Often, the block to a membership, even for many of our own friends, is “I just don’t buy enough books.” As much as we’re focused on growing reading, the ceiling of avid readers is lower than you might imagine, and we want to make membership valuable not just for avid readers. A few things are changing: first, our beloved weekly 40% “bestseller” lists will expand to include our own store’s bestsellers, not just the national bestselling books. This simple change will expand the range of products across multiple categories — i.e. gifts, activities, puzzles, cooking/home — and also capture products of higher relevance to our own customers.
Further, we’re rolling out more events (both type & frequency), adding a members’ kids club, and expanding the range of browsable app-only products. Details on each of these will be launching later this week.
If you’ve been hesitant to join our membership because you don’t “read enough,” I’d encourage you to take a chance on us now – from the free drip coffee to the expanding product discounts, as well as exclusive event access I believe, based on many member stories, you’ll feel the return on your membership is great. (Join us here)
Open Additional Locations
We believe that proximity is essential to creating “community hubs” — asking someone to give up Amazon but drive 10-15 minutes to get a $15 paperback is a no-win proposition. Our core customers & members live in or near Homewood, and as a result, frequent the store daily/weekly for coffee, events, books, and more. Over 80% of our sales come from customers that live within a 5-mile radius.
Our vision is to be “more local” to more people. New satellite locations will give us the chance to experiment with modified bookstore concepts (size, function, bar, etc), focus on new community partnerships, partner with new school districts, and attract local residents as new customers, employees, or even operators.
We’ve tried to imagine a community-driven future that exists together, locally, in renewed friendship, united for the common good. I think we’ve stumbled upon something really amazing and compelling, building that together, for the benefit of each other. The past two years have been really fun, rewarding, and at times challenging, but THANK YOU for participating in this, our own, collective “possible future”.
Jonathan & Meredith