Spotlight: Half Price Books of the Ozarks In Springfield, MO

Kathy Ross, who owns Half Pice Books Of The Ozarks, Inc., was named RT's 2010 Bookseller of the year. Here is some insider-information about Half Price Books Of The Ozarks store and what makes it such a special place to work, shop, and read.

Half Price Books Of The Ozarks is an independent bookstore that sells both new and used books. The store opened in 1985 and the current owners have owned it since November 1, 2002. Now in it's twenty-fifth year of selling, the current owners saw their new book sales increase 32% this last year. The local paper, The Springfield News-Leader, also awarded the bookstore "Best of the Ozarks Resale Bookstore for 2009" out of all the similar bookstores in the southwest Missouri area.

Half Price Books Of The Ozarks is located at one of the busiest intersections of Springfield, MO, at the Plaza Shopping Center. It is less than fifteen minutes away from seven large chain bookstores and six other used bookstores. However, they are the only bookstore which sells both new and used books. A staff of four runs the store six days a week.

Half Price Books Of The Ozarks has over 4,00 square feet of space. If you aren't a numbers person, that breaks down to four store fronts, five large rooms for customers and three back rooms for overstock.

With so much space, organization is imperative. This is a unique challenge because the store has been in business for over twenty four years, so, most of the shelving has been custom-made. Futhermore, the staff make sure to keep the back rooms organized by genre and author. The store uses the UBIC inventory system, the Byron reference collection, and an internet book inventory to keep everything running smoothly.

The carpeted store has two sitting areas and there are display racks and tables throughout the space. In the main room there is an area for checking in and out. That room also stocks collectible cabinets, non-book items (sidelines), and a four-sided display with the store's newest books and those by local authors.  An entire room is devoted to fiction and mystery while another room carries genre fiction (such as Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Romance). The store's largest room houses classics, religious fiction, and all non-fiction. The room that houses the children's area also has self-help and cooking books. There is even a small room for new books, audio books and collectors items such as signed books or rare editions.  

As a well-established store, Half Price Books Of The Ozarks has customers that come from all over. Not only do they sell their inventory online,but with such a vast selection in-house, there are customers who visit the store every week and a handful who visit the store each day!

Here are a few things (other than the store's wide selection) that keep customers returning frequently:

Bargains! The first bargain is that Half Price Books Of The Ozarks both buys and trades for their inventory. Trading with the store guarantees that they will take back any book any customr buys from them for trade credits. This policy was established by the store's original owners and is so popular that the current owners kept up the tradition.

Another way they keep the savings coming is that the store has just expanded their marked-down sections. One thing that they do is keep bargain bins throughout the entire store. And they have always had a bargain rack running buy five get one free deal on books between a dime and two dollars. However, they have also adopted a more concentrated approach to wooing the hard-to-sell-to customers. They've opened a closed section with fifteen feet of books that are a dollar or less.

Customer service is key. With over thirty years of combined bookstore know-how, this staff is well trained and knowledgeable about all the different sections of the store. The staff makes sure to great every customer who walks in the front door but the service doesn't stop there. Each staff member has a specialty focus in the store.

For the customer who does not want direct interaction with the staff, the store keeps an "If You Like" notebook of recommendations at the front of the store and suggested titles are listed at the end of each aisle of books. The store also keeps a newsletter that shares the store's current events, new additions to the "If You Like" notebook, upcoming signings and a coupon each month.

The third thing that has helped the sales at Half Price Books Of The Ozarks is that they have expanded their presence out into the community. They are members of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce (and as such has exclusive selling rights to the Chamber's title on local history Celebrating Springfield). They are also part of the group "Springfield's Best" which recognizes local businesses and helps promote Springfield-based stores. And, taking a road less traveled, the bookstore is also partners with the local double-A affiliate of the baseball team the St. Louis Cardinals!

Finally, Half Price Books Of The Ozarks believes in sharing the wealth. They have made book donations to libraries, veterans homes and the military fighting overseas. They have sponsored the "Most Influential Women" award and participated in several major home shows. (Some of you may recognize the store from an October 2009 episode of ABC's show Extreme Home Makeover.)

All in all, the bookstore has used their space, store policies, staff, and community presence to become a business that successful despite the challenging economic climate. Congratulations again to Kathy Ross, Tom Ross and the entire staff of Half Price Books Of The Ozarks!

Half Price Books Of The Ozarks
1950 S. Glenstone Ave, Ste O
Springfield, MO 65804
Phone 417-889-9042