Joyce Bickford’s business keeps evolving
The Bookworm and Consignment Shop is thriving
In the 34 years since it was launched, Joyce Bickford has seen her business evolve in response to assorted commercial opportunities. One thing, however, has remained constant at The Bookworm and Consignment Shop, 1031 S. 22nd St. — books are at the heart of the enterprise.
“I started out as a used book store,” Bickford said. “In my store now, books are the big seller.”
For a time, the used-book focus was augmented with video rentals.
“I got into videos and I was renting videos out,” Bickford said. “I bought out Adventureland Videos here in Fort Dodge. I did that for quite a few years. Video rentals went to the wayside because everybody was streaming.”
Even though she stopped offering movie rentals several years ago, some DVDs are still for sale in her shop.
“I just sell them,” Bickford said. “I don’t rent them out. I will order movies for people. People bring in used DVDs to sell and I sell them either on consignment or I buy them from them.”
The used-book part of the business has been supplemented with used furniture and some other items for sale on consignment.
Bickford said the furniture aspect of her commercial venture came about as a result of her frequenting garage sales.
“I’d go to garage sales and started to bring stuff in here to sell,” she said, noting that doing that led her to selling used furniture and related items on consignment. That part of the business began about seven years ago.
“I have furniture on consignment,” Bickford said. “I take 25 percent. The customer gets 75 percent of what it sells for. If the item doesn’t sell within a month or whatever, they can either have it back or I bring the price down.”
She takes a wide selection of items on consignment.
“I take small appliances, like microwaves,” Bickford said. “I take knickknack decor. I take furniture. I get couches. I get recliners. I get chairs, tables. I have a big room that is all furniture. Then, I have a room for small appliances. I do carry a few clothes and purses and stuff in one room.
She said the consignment component of her shop has proved popular with sellers.
“There are a lot of people out there who don’t want to have a garage sale; don’t want to have a tag sale,” Bickford said. “So, they bring their stuff in here because it’s easier. They can bring a box of stuff in here and I’ll price it for them and sell it for them.”
If a potential consignor doesn’t have a way to get what they wish to sell to the store, Bickford can sometimes help.
“If people will call me if they can’t bring something in, I have a little truck,” she said. “Most of the time people bring stuff in to me or will call and ask if they can bring something in.”
The store is filled with a huge selection of used books.
“I would say I have over 1,000 books in the shop right now,” Bickford said. “The books are my bread and butter.”
The books are grouped by subject matter so customers can quickly locate the ones that are of most interest to them.
“I have a whole room for nonfiction. I’ve got a great nonfiction section,” Bickford said. “The front room when you walk in is all books. I have cookbooks. I’ve got biographies. I have westerns, historical romances, modern romances, horror books, science fiction, best sellers. I have a clearance room that has everything in it for a dollar. I take the books from the clearance area to nursing homes if they’ve run their course in here.”
The store has books with appeal to both adults and children.
“I have a really good children’s section,” Bickford said. “Coming in here is a thrifty way to have books for your kids. I’ve also got a teenage section.”
Bickford buys used books, but said many of her customers bring in books to trade.
“I’ll either buy books or put people on trade,” she said. “If they bring in 10 books and I take them, they can take 10 of my books and they get half off of my prices. Most of the time people bring them in and trade. I’ve been here 34 years. I’ve got so many customers who read them and bring them back and pay half off. It’s kind of a revolving door. I will buy though.”
Bickford stressed that it is often possible to find books in her store soon after they were introduced on the new books market.
“I get the new ones in as soon as somebody has read them,” she said. “When people get done with their books, they just bring them in here, so I’ve got a lot of the new stuff in.”
If a customer wants a book that isn’t in the shop, Bickford will take note of that desire and be on the lookout for the book.
“If somebody is looking for a particular book, I take their name down and if I can round it up for them, or if it comes in here, I give them a call,” she said.
The Bookworm has developed a loyal following over the more than three decades it has served the community.
“I know a lot of people by their first name,” Bickford said. “I’ve been here so long that I know what people are looking for.”
She said running this store has been a good fit for her.
“I like the people,” Bickford said. “I meet a lot of people. I’ve always liked garage sales. I go to garage sales and buy things for a couple of bucks and bring them in here and sell them. I enjoy reading. I’m doing everything I want to do and making money at it.”
The Bookworm and Consignment Shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:30 to 6 p.m.
Bickford has a straightforward message about her store.
“I have a lot of great stuff in here at bargain prices,” she said. “I try to keep my prices affordable.”