Small Business Spotlight: Under Charlie’s Covers

1. Tell us a little about you and your business.
Under Charlie’s Covers opened in Bernalillo in 2009.  I inherited around 18,000 hardback books from my dad when he passed in 2002 so I had to open a bookstore!  We now have around 40,000 used books in stock — hardbacks, paperbacks, fiction, nonfiction, kid’s books and audio books.   We also carry some new books.  Our used books are generally priced at half the retail price. Customers are also able to trade books in for a trade credit that can be used toward the purchase of more books!  Growing up, I was surrounded by books and I developed a love for reading, which I love to share with whoever will listen.  
2. Can you tell us how business has changed for you since the start of the COVID pandemic?
While we were closed for two months, March through May, I did my best to get the word out that we were still able to order and ship books, and we offered curbside pickup (which is still available).  We have always cleaned our books with rubbing alcohol when they are traded in.  We are also providing gloves to our customers to wear while they shop, which provides an extra level of reassurance while they shop.  We want everyone to feel comfortable touching our books — looking at covers and reading the back or the first page is an important part of the book shopping experience!  We are getting a lot more phone calls from customers who are looking for specific books and we are happy to hold books until they can come to pick them up.  
3. What is your favorite part about being a small business owner?
I love to come to work each day!  I always learn something new.  The best part about owning this business is the daily interactions with our customers.  Finding the perfect book for someone gives me joy.  Talking to others about the books they love and sharing the ones I love is the reason I am here.  The business owner part is not fun, but it gives me control over how we conduct our business.  I am responsible for our success or failure.  I am able to choose my co-workers and know that they share my love of books and reading and represent my business in a professional and helpful manner.   
4. Can you tell us your plans for Small Business Saturday this year and how it has changed from last year?
Our plans for Small Business Saturday will be similar to previous years.  We celebrate the whole weekend and will have giveaways Friday-Sunday and free totebags.  One thing we will be giving away is a four-pound container of Jelly Bellys!  Our regular customers will remember that we alway had Jelly Bellys on the counter, but because of the pandemic we had to stop that practice.  We will observe COVID safe practices and limit the number of customers shopping in the store, if necessary.  We appreciate our customers coming out to support our small business and encourage them to shop small.  It is much safer to shop in a small business than a big box store.
5. Under Charlie’s Covers is one of the few used bookstores in the metro area.  What sets you apart from your competitors?
Under Charlie’s Covers has the best customers!  We know many of them by name.  Our store is a small community of book lovers, where you can come and find kindred spirits in our staff and those shopping around you.  Our customer service can’t be beat.  If we don’t have what you are looking for, we will call you when we do or we can order it for you.  Our staff is happy to recommend books if you don’t know what you are looking for. With more than 40,000 books in stock, our selection is one of the largest in New Mexico.  The great thing about shopping in a used bookstore is you never know what you will find.  We have best sellers and totally obscure titles.  They are all organized by subject or genre and alphabetical by author so we can find titles or authors easily.
6. Can you share your favorite customer success story?
Recently, we had a customer bring in a Louisa May Alcott book from the 1950s and he was looking for Little Women in the same publication series.  We had it!  I can’t even count how many times we have had a customer looking for a specific book and someone else trades it in later that day.  I even had a customer I chased down in the parking lot because his book came in as he was leaving!   We don’t have everything, but we will do our best to make sure you leave satisfied!
Each month we will spotlight a small business in Sandoval County.  If you would like to see your name here, please email and let us know!