KINGSPORT, Tenn. – It’s a comment often attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
That nugget of wisdom has often proven true in the book business, said Dr. T. Glen Moody, owner and “curator” at I Love Books Bookstore and a bookseller for the last 49 years who has actively promoted the “Be Loyal, Buy Local” concept in the Tri-Cities.
Moody, whose bookstore is located at Kingsport Town Center (formerly known as Fort Henry Mall), said he’s watched the internet siphon off hundreds of millions of tax dollars from Tennessee – including tax abatement and grants to a multibillion-dollar corporation in the book business.
Yet, policy in the state continues to support such companies over Tennessee’s own homegrown small businesses, he said.
“Politicians rarely major in economics; they tend to major in patronage,” Moody said, “and so the law of unintended consequences prevails.”
Moody said he’s made lots of new friends during his five years in the mall. Among them are Enzo Monno (owner of Italian Village, a restaurant), Sally Bissen (owner of Walk About Sally, a unique gift and apparel store), Mark Gass (owner of Gift Emporium, which sells T-shirts and related items), Elizabeth and Andy (owners of Funsize Bakery), and Robert Ellis (producer of Ellis Farms honey and other foods).
He and Ellis have worked together to bring some of the best local products to customers with mall convenience, Moody said; his bookstore sells more than $10,000 worth of local honey a year. They’ve also worked together to actively promote the “Be Loyal, Buy Local” campaign.
Moody’s I Love Books also carries more than 250 kinds of tea – mostly loose-leaf teas – and tea accessories, as well as local jams, fruit butters, molasses and preserves.
As a member of the nation’s largest co-op, Frontier Natural Foods, the bookstore also carries a very large line of Aura Cacia essential oils, Simply Organic herbs and spices, and Frontier Co-Op bulk (by the pound) organic herbs.
"We stock over a thousand books on health and cooking, including books on herbs and aromatherapy; after our success with the teas and honey, organic herbs and spices seemed to be the logical next step,” Mooday said. “Our customers let me know what products they want that are not widely available locally. Many customers know Frontier and Aura Cacia from seeing them in Whole Foods markets.”
Moody rewards repeat customers for repeat shopping with more than a dozen loyalty cards, each of which can result in free merchandise. Cards offer free samples of tea to make at home, free samples of herbs and spices, a free “honey bear” container of honey after five transactions, a kids’ card, a sci-fi reader card, a comic book collector card, and several more.
"We hope to delight our customers by offering free sample programs and loyalty cards in a lot of different categories,” he said.
“Success in any business is not achieved by getting customers to spend a lot of money at one time, but by having lots of loyal and happy repeat customers who buy products they enjoy from folks they like to do business with,” he said. “That philosophy has served me well for nearly 50 years in business.”
I Love Books is also looking forward to its next book signing Sept. 27, when author Karen Spears Zacharias will be coming from Oregon to sign her new book, “Burdy,” which is set in Christian Bend in Hawkins County, Tennessee. The book is her sequel to the best-selling award winner, “Mother of Rain.”
Plans are also in the works for promotion of the movie “Big Stone Gap” in October.
“Lots of exciting things are always happening at I Love Books bookstore,” Moody said. “Stop by to find out the latest!"comments powered by Disqus