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Klindt’s Booksellers: 140 years and counting!

July 18, 2013

Bobbie:

Today, we’re joined by Kristin Klindt of Klindt Booksellers and Stationers, a wonderful bookstore located about 90 minutes of outside of Portland, OR, in the scenic area of The Dalles. Kristin is in the Klindt family, which has owned the bookstore for 30 of its over 100 years in business. Klindt’s embodies everything that you think about when you think about a great indie: squeaky floors and old-world appeal, quintessential charm, passionate booksellers, and a legacy  to boot. It’s the oldest bookstore in Oregon, and one of the oldest bookstores in the country!!! But inspite of its age, this old dog can still learn new tricks, keeping up with the changing book industry in a way that will ensure its relevance for years to come. Below you’ll learn just a little bit about Klindt’s and what you can expect when you visit! 

 image Tina and Kristin

Q: Can you provide some background on the store?

A: Klindt’s Booksellers and Stationers is the oldest bookstore in Oregon. Opening its doors in 1870, we still have our original squeaky floors, cabinets and bookshelves. Some of our staff and customers have reported, “feeling the spirits” of the generations from the past, which only adds to the charm of the store.

Q: Question for the buyer/owner- what is your role? Day to day job responsibilities?

A: My husband Joaquin works in the store every day, while I have a full-time job at a high tech company in the Bay Area – working remotely. This means Joaquin and I have to balance the responsibilities of running the store with each other, along with help from our amazing staff members and store manager, Tina.

While Joaquin is in the store daily, I work closely with the bookstore to support the infrastructure, like the Web site, human resources and events. We work directly with Tina, who oversees purchasing and employee schedules. As owners, we also get stuck with the least fun jobs— roof repairs and cleaning!

Q: What sets Klindt’s Booksellers and Stationers apart from chain stores or online competitors?

A: Great customer service and a deep connection to the community is what really sets us apart from the big box chains and online stores. The online retailers offer convenience, but they can’t deliver the same customer service, expert recommendations and creative events that we can offer.

Klindt’s has been part of my family for decades and has been a central point in our community. We support regional authors and try to carry a good selection of historical and topical Pacific Northwest books. In addition, we have a strong tie to community organizations, and are actively supporting our schools and providing contributions to local fundraising events.

We embrace technology and we love the convenience that the Web provides book buyers. We recently launched an e-commerce platform, allowing our customers to buy books directly from our Web site. This is great for local customers and for those loyal customers who have moved away from town.

Q: What, if any, new things are you doing to stay competitive and to serve the needs of your customers?

A: Our staff members have become excellent book researchers. If we don’t have the book a customer is looking for, we try to track it down and get it in by the next day. Many of our longtime customers are happy with this quick turn around service. Handwritten book reviews also add to a positive customer experience and we strive to carry an assortment of product offerings.

Q: What kinds of creative events or story-time events have you done?

A: Author and reader events have been a great way for us to promote authors and get people into the store to buy books. We host an annual Young Adult (YA) Fiction Weekend event where we invite twelve authors to visit the store and conduct signings. The YA event draws a lot of young readers from the community, giving them the opportunity to meet a variety of published authors at one time.

We have also started hosting writing workshops for aspiring authors and those with the writing bug. The workshops are hosted by published authors and cover topics ranging from character development and storyline creation to approaching the writing process. Customer feedback from each of these events has been overwhelmingly positive, and has provided us a great way to drive customer loyalty.

imageKlindt’s Writing Workshop

Q: What books have you made bestsellers at your store because the staff got behind them?

A: The love of a good story can be contagious. Staff members often hand-sell their favorites for months.

Jonathan Evison’s The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is a book we just keep putting in people’s hands. A great story, excellent writing with a sense of humor – a book many people can relate to.

One of our staff members fell in love with Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen a couple of years ago. Now, practically everyone in our store has read Allen’s titles and the author has a strong following among our customers. Whenever folks come in looking for a relaxing read, we suggest one of Allen’s books. She manages to blend very addictive narratives with themes associated with literary fiction – you get hooked almost from the start.

Another good example is Cloud Atlas— Tina’s reaction to this title was so convincing that we sold our inventory, and had to reorder it several times. But it took her recommendation to get this book moving – to the point we just couldn’t keep it in stock. Time and again our customers prove to us just how important staff recommendations truly are.

Q: How important is your e-newsletter and social media to your customer outreach?

A: The Facebook platform is great for sharing photos, posting event details, and showing off the unique charm of our store, as well as the personality of our staff and customers. Twitter has also been a good avenue for getting the word out about events. We are now starting to investigate other social media platforms, including Pinterest and Tumblr.

Don’t count out traditional media. Another advantage of being in a small town is that we have access to local radio and newspapers. A lot of folks in our community still rely on our local radio stations and newspaper to stay informed, and we work hard to build relationships with them to promote events in the store.

Q: What are your favorite titles out this summer?

A: There are so many! Newer paperbacks in Tina’s pile right now include, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Orphan Master’s Son, and Joyland. She recently finished Beautiful Ruins and Broken Harbor and loved both for very different reasons. In hardcover, Tina is working on The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Paris (Rutherford) is next. Tina’s mantra around the store: “So much to read, so little time!”

For more info about the bookstore, please visit their website at http://www.klindtsbooks.com/ and their face book page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Klindts-Booksellers-and-Stationers/375841349150?ref=search

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