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River Reader hoping diversification might be the solution

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 | Posted by

In a Dickensian mailing, Susan Ryan, owner of River Reader for the past 4 1/2 years, borrows

Susan and Laura Ryan of River Reader

from A Tale of Two Cities to recount how what she’s been experiencing is a mix of “the best of times”  and “the worst of times”.

In Ryan’s eloquent “tale”  it was the best of times when:

•    The town rallied and opened CSB Accounts to help keep River Reader open
•    I received volunteer of the year award from the Guerneville School Garden
•    The poetry submitted for the 1st Annual River of Words Poetry Contest was sublime.
•    Kenneth Brower, author of “The Wildness Within””, made room for us in his packed schedule to do a reading in Armstrong Redwoods State Park as a fund raiser for Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, to help keep Austin Creek open.
•    Tammy Leyden’s first grade class walked from Guerneville School to my store to hear me read them a story and have lemonade and cookies.
•    I saw a bald eagle on the way to work today

And it was the worst of times because:

•    The first five months of this year have been financially the worst in the history of River Reader
•    I am no longer able to restock the selves
•    I had to disable my web page because I could not afford the monthly payment.

She now feels the best way to ensure River Reader’s survival is to diversify, and this is her current plan:
Ryan is advising the public that they may rent River Reader for Meetings, Workshops, Classes. She says it’s a calm, inviting space with great acoustics and her rental fee is $25/hour.

Ryan  has 30 years’ experience with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations as a bookkeeper and is for hire at $25 per hour. She says she can do all the tasks related to bookkeeping from reconciling checking accounts to dealing with quarterly sales tax returns and claims she’s “trustworthy, cheerful, and accurate”.

And she’s inviting people to either replenish, or open a new Community Supported Bookstore account which involves a customer giving her a sum of money up front which is subsequently used to make purchases.

At this time, she explains, she’s “exhausted and burned out, and is replacing herself behind the counter with her mom, Billie while she enjoys a two week trip to Ireland, courtesy of her 22-year-old daughter, Laura.
The store will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays starting June 25 while Ryan takes her vacation, and  Billie, “will be womaning the store from Wednesday June 27 to Saturday July 14.”

Ryan has cleared her schedule  for most of July, and will resume with her first rental event on Saturday, July 28. She says, “It is a good one that you may want to attend.”

Ryan also states that she has some very worthwhile events planned for June, and is hopeful people will come by and meet authors, hear them read from their works and enjoy the ambience an independent, locally-owned bookstore is ready and willing to provide.

She would also like to remind the community that, “I still feel like the luckiest person in the world. I love being a part of this community.”

The model she drew her inspiration from was:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”  — Charles Dickens

  • http://russianriverreader.com Susan Ryan

    Stephen:

    Thank you. You are very kind. I think all of your Town columns are beautifully designed and are filled current information that is often not available anywhere else. Your writing conveys what makes small town living wonderful. Thank you again. Susan

  • Dian Hardy

    I echo what Susan has said above, Stephen. You are one who sincerely and honestly cares about others and has the gift of being able to put that caring into words. Write on! And good luck to River Reader – it’s says a lot about a town that they support their book store.

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Stephen Gross, The River correspondent

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