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Why Shop Ridgefield?: Books On The Common

The first installment of 'Why Shop Ridgefield?' looks at Books on The Common in downtown Ridgefield.

The question comes up again: Why shop Ridgefield?

When it comes to , located on Main Street next to Town Hall, most Ridgefielders know why.

The independent bookstore opened in 1984 at its first location in Copps Hill Commons -- purchased in 2004 by Ellen Burns and Darwin Ellis, it moved to its current location in August, 2009.

The store is one of a dying breed -- as such, it attracts bookers from nearby towns that don't have an independent bookstore of their own.

And with the closing of Borders stores everywhere, its reach has grown.

But there are still easier and less expensive options, so why go to Books on the Common for something you can get online or at a bigger store?

Ellen Burns said Amazon.com is the store's biggest competition right now, not surprisingly, and that the website has been driving prices down over the past few years.

"We don't do the volume they do," Burns said. "We offer discounts for book clubs, for seniors and children, but it's still hard to keep up."

But there's a reason people still go to the corner bookstore, Burns said.

"It's a place where people can come to talk about books," she said. "You can't get that other places."

Burns and her husband, Ellis, know what their customers like to read and purchase books individually with that in mind -- Burns said it's an important difference from sorting through "some algorithm" created online.

"If you want easy and cheap, you go online," Burns said. "But if you want a downtown area where you can go from the hardware store to Squash's [office supply] then it's important to support local merchants."

"Without that support, this doesn't exist," she said. "Shopping locally keeps merchants in town."

When asked to imagine a dystopian Ridgefield in which local businesses are a rarity rather than a corner feature, Burns paused a moment.

"A much sadder place," she said. "It would be a less vibrant downtown. There are a lot of vacancies now, and while it's easier to go to the computer, people would be diminishing their own communities by not supporting local merchants."

But Books on the Common is lucky, Burns added, and is doing well:

"We've been very fortunate, because people in Ridgefield and surrounding towns get that."

bluestocking March 01, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Webster, There is MUCH more to a "bricks and mortar store" than plush chairs and a coffee bar! Books on the Common offers all of their customers PERSONAL attention, which one cannot get from online shopping. Furthermore, the staff KNOW their regular customers because they care about fellow book lovers. Furthermore, Books on the Common DOES have comfortable chairs, and customers are invited to bring in their coffee which they purchased from the Main Street coffee shop--TAZZA--just two doors down. You would be warmly welcomed to come in and enjoy "intelligent banter" with any one of the staff members. Be sure to introduce yourself; I guarantee your name would not be forgotten. You can be assured that AMAZON has no clue who you are!
ali March 01, 2012 at 06:45 PM
And on line, you can not browse through a book before you purchase it or communicate with fellow humans. Also, in a store, you may see a gift that is perfect that you had not thought of, but is just perfect for someone.
Jessica Haight March 02, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Nothing is more fun than leaping into a great story. Especially when you find that one magical book, tucked away on a shelf in a corner book store, waiting just for you. In an effort to support those wonderful story peddlers, I am currently running a book giveaway on my blog (Fairday's Blog!) where I am featuring a $25 gift card to Books on the Common, and the store owners, Ellen and Darwin Ellis, have generously offered to cover the shipping costs for the gift card winner. I will be spotlighting Books on the Common in Ridgefield, CT as the first Village Story Peddlers post. The staff there was kind enough to answer a few questions about their top picks for authors and other fascinating facts about their favorite characters. Stop by Fairday's Blog! March 11th to check out Village Story Peddlers and hear what the awesome staff at Books on the Common has to say about books these days. Happy Reading! ~ Jess Haight
Elaine March 02, 2012 at 02:53 AM
This is really interesting! I was just checking out the Leap into Books Hop online. There are over a 100 participating book blogs that are giving away books and other prizes. This is great way for independent book stores to get involved with the online book marketplace! I hope I win the giveaway! I would love to shop at Books on the Common, it sounds like a really fun store.
CB March 04, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I shopped there for the first time yesterday. While I love Amazon and eBooks, which are generally cheaper, there is something to be said for customer service and the small town feel which for me is worth a couple extra dollars to pay for a book and support a local merchant, especially since downtown Ridgefield has lost so many stores recently.......thanks for being an asset to Main Street!!

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