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Local ties keep bookstore afloat during down times

Little Read Book owner grateful for loyal customers

April 23, 2012

Community connections have kept The Little Read Book alive, despite the jab, right, left hook combination put up by the economy, megastores and e-books.

"It's been down since 2008. That's when we really had a punch to our gut. Of course, everybody did. But we held on," said Burg, who owns the shop at 7603 W. State St.

Some hours got cut. Inventory hasn't been quite as deep. But special orders are always available - and people are ordering.

People like the three West Allis teachers who wanted 25 copies of "My Heart Will Not Sit Down." Or 30 or so Advanced Placement students from Wauwatosa East and Wauwatosa West high schools. Or the elementary school student looking for books about Mohammed Ali.

"It's things like that that are starting to make up for what we lost," Burg said.

And, for her part, Burg is trying to give back.

Schools get 20 percent off and a tax exemption at Little Read Book. Students get 15 percent off. Customers get their "Read" cards stamped to accumulate $10 toward a new purchase. And, recently, Burg joined Small Shops United, a rewards-type program that allows shoppers to accumulate credits at local stores.

"My involvement is community-oriented," Burg said. "It's trying to get people to understand, if they buy on Amazon, perhaps they save a penny or two. But that money disappears, whereas the money spent here goes back to the community.

"The connection to the community is the biggest thing for all of us," she explained. "Everyone is local, and they deal with people who are local. And we like it here.

"We're up to three generations now," Burg said. "We've seen mothers who've got these big bellies. And, all of a sudden, those bellies become babies. And those babies become people. And those people are having their own kids."

The connections keep her going, even if Burg isn't sure how much longer she will run the store.

"I'm 64. I keep saying, 'How long should we do this?' But, the thing is, this has been fun for 26 years. There have been some rough spots, but it's been fun."

If you would like to suggest a business to be featured in the Business Spotlight, send an email to news@cninow.com or call (262) 446-6643.

JUST THE FACTS

BUSINESS: The Little Read Book

ADDRESS: 7603 W. State St.

WEB: LittleReadBook.com

PHONE: (414) 774-2665

OWNER: Linda Burg

INCORPORATED: 1985

TYPE OF BUSINESS: bookstore

PEARLS OF WISDOM: "The connection to the community is the biggest thing for all of us."

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