Bank of Books & Abednego Book Shoppe in Downtown Ventura, meet the Owner Clarey Rudd (cc available)
Elizabeth B here with exp Realty. And today I’m talking to Clarey Rudd of Bank of books and Abednego Books. Hi Clarey Hi Elizabeth good to see you – thank you so much for allowing us to come in today. We really appreciate you. So please describe your business We are a family independent bookstore, we have both Bank of Books and Abednego we also have our internet business, for about 30 years pre the other guy that’s out there. They contacted us because they started with books we were online before them. They’ve grown a little bit faster; we’re still plugging away. Good for you, and I didn’t know that that’s awesome. So why books? Books to me help people. We see the joy of one who has favorite authors that they love. We see kids growing with books and when I grew up in the bookstore. My folks started a bookstore in 1954, so I’ve been subtracting school time, so basically 55 years in this industry That’s so great, what has surprise to you about owning a business? I’m not surprised it’s a lot of work. I grew up with it, so it’s just a part of me. Long hours, so that doesn’t bother me. Question was, what surprises me? Yeah. What surprises me after having so many great landlords to me, most landlords are like cheerleaders They want to see you succeed. So we’ve got great landlords, sadly, years ago ago I signed a lease with one that has done damage to us for a number of years. Just recently destroyed 500,000 books of ours which is putting us in an awkward spot because that was part of our back up stock for the internet. He just kept doing damage which doesn’t make sense. So we’re trying to deal with that. And survive. What do you need in order to survive? What do you need help with? We need a good lawyer. Okay. that understands what was done. Someone who knows this person and knows of the corruption he’s done in other situations. So we need a good lawyer, which means we need funds to hire someone. From that point, so yeah, puts us in a rock and a hard place. We’ve been losing major sales monthly that came from that warehouse. A lot of good books that were destroyed that we had the only copies of. So that’s hard. It’s damaged us, but also the literary world. I’m so sorry. What is something most people don’t know about your stores? The stores sell internationally. So they’ve become famous from that point. So we get orders, shipping worldwide, daily, so that’s fun. Over 100 country’s we’ve shipped to. We’ve even shipped to the Statue of Liberty. Which surprised us, because we go, how can a statue order a book?! There’s an office there that we shipped to. We’ve shipped to congress, of all things, a book on doing budgets. So we’re very convinced that senator never read the book yet. Don’t seem to understand. We’ve shipped to the white house, to the Vatican, so that’s interesting. It’s also interesting to discover that authors order their own books. Their book is out of print and they can’t get copies so suddenly they order books that they need to give to friends because they can’t get them either. You are very important. What you do here is very important. Oh my gosh. We think it’s important. It is! Very Cool! What do your customers love most? Not, Not the sick jokes. I think the atmosphere, good staff, to me, we have some very well-trained staff. Some have been in the industry 20 or 30 years. That come from other chain operations that love working here. So it’s nice, to have that type of staff. Staff that want to help people. Our research department, one of the top in the country. We get requests, people say “We lived in Ventura, we live in Idaho or New York now, and you guys always found what we want.” So, that’s nice to service ones from that. Absolutely. What are your goals over the next year or so? First one, to survive. Which we need community support. We’re hoping everyone’s become aware of what we’ve gone through. There will be support just like when the fires happened in Ventura. We opened up a new department called community support. So those who lost their homes they come and get free books over the last two years So we keep that stock for those. We also keep a stock to support teachers. So they can get free books A personal goal, which started off to be a museum for Erle Stanley Gardner has changed to be the California Literary Hall of Fame to feature authors from California who have passed away or are living. A museum to educate people about the authors, including Erle Stanley Gardner one of the number one mystery writers of all time; who wrote Perry Mason and who is a lawyer here in Ventura. People don’t know sometimes who these people are. That is set up in Bank of Books rooms that no one has seen yet. We hope to finish that this next year. If we survive. You will survive you are survivor I think so too. We enjoy supporting our community, like the fire situation. I love that. How do you encourage your staff? I put away the whip, that didn’t work. I thank them daily. I could not run the operation with out good people. To me, finding good people allows us to grow. Most book stores, tend to be smaller, or one store verses multiple stores. We do multiple type things I rely on staff that can be experts in certain areas, there’s no better way, even though being in the industry, to know all the things. No, that’s so true. What is something most people don’t know about you? Probably stuff that need be secret. I was the founding chairmen of the Downtown Ventura Organization. We approached city hall saying we need safety downtown. We need better lighting. We need downtown to be clean. We need bathrooms. So there were five issues that we took to City Hall. They supported what became Downtown Ventura Organization Which I chaired for 6 years and I was glad to see improvements take place. I serve on a board for missions without boarders which we’re dealing with right now in Albania, the country. I was there 5 months ago, that city has had major earthquake. We’re dealing with trying to support a lot of people living through, I think they’ve had 3,500 earthquakes over the last 7 days, Oh my gosh and quite a few people have passed away and buildings. So I serve on that. What else? Don’t know what else. Why is it important for people to shop local? It’s tragic when a city loses a bookstore or other unique businesses, to me that helps build community. To shop local, a local business collects taxes, which helps pay police, fire, and roads. It also hires people so people have jobs. I believe I’ve hired about 300 who have worked for me over the years. That to me is rewarding. When some of them come back, as one did 2 days ago, saying this is my husband, I wanted you to meet him. Because she had moved away. She goes, “This was my favorite job.” That’s rewarding. There are others that stretch you, but I am glad to have provided jobs to that many, over the years. That’s awesome! Thank you. What’s been your most memorable experience either with a client or with a customer with a writer? That’s come in and had a book signing here. Three things, quick that came to me. One is just the day to day customer, to me, that’s rewarding. I state that, because they are as important as the celebrity or other person. Each person counts. So each to me, that’s important. That brings me to the 2 other customers I can think of, which brings me to Anthony Hopkins. So there’s still hope for him. He’s so down to earth. He loved the bookstore. He loves downstairs. Vintage books. He wrote best bookstore I’ve ever been in. Which shocked us. Very humble. Great entertainer. The third one is a guy named Eugene Jones, from L. A. He is probably in his 90s now. He was a journalist through the Korean war and some Vietnam time. So he traveled the world for major papers Became known as one of the experts in producing stories He is famous for the White House tour with Jacqueline Kennedy. And also, the document on Vietnam which is one of the most honored ones. He would come, last time in a wheelchair, and we had dinner one time. He goes, “let me take you to dinner and share stories about 6 presidents.” So, I go, “which of all these presidents did you enjoy the most?” Now I’m going blank on the one, but he goes, “He’s the one that would say, Hello Gene.” and call him by name. he’d encounter each one on one. He has some wild stories. I would love to see a story about him. Because he interviewed presidents, was in Moscow during Cuba interviewing Castro, he got into many spots, probably has on his agenda to interview you. That would be awesome! Such a brilliant man, I sort of feel like a kind of spy back in those days. Yeah, or would feel that way for sure and scary Scary, when he would tell some of the stories. It was unbelievable and to have the honor to have him want to take me out. Such a historical person, it was so nice. Is there anything exciting going on that you would like to share with everybody There’s a group planning a cash mob event that we are hoping will bring a lot of the community to show up to show support. That’s happening very soon. Right before this interview gets major T.V. time. Otherwise we have some great authors coming almost weekly. In January Lee Goldberg is coming which has done a lot of books. He needs to be better known with all the stuff he does behind the scenes and encourages so many authors. He’s a New York Best Seller. We are honored to have him coming in so we hope people enjoy meeting these authors. They are real people and to talk to them. Well, thank you so much Clarey I appreciate you so much and I appreciate what you’re doing for our town and for everything. And hopefully we’ll get you somebody that can help out with the problem We want you to stay around for a long time We need a good lawyer to deal with the challenge. Why someone would destroy 500,000 books that were rare and stuff is beyond us. Yeah. It doesn’t make any sense. So thank you, Thank you so much have the BEST day EVER!