Small bookstore is natural next step

Traders' Library adding retail area at its Columbia facility

March 19, 2001|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

When the market speaks, Chris Myers listens. And most recently, the unidentifiable entity has told the president of Traders' Library: "If you build it, they will come."

The first bookstore run by the financial book distribution company isn't open, but already it seems Myers may have struck a chord with local customers.

About 30 have shown up at the store on Red Branch Road after getting a flier in the mail two weeks ago announcing its opening at the end of the month. Five have scheduled use of the store's conference room - part of the renovation that created the bookstore - to hold meetings for their trading groups.

"People are just dying to talk to someone who knows what they do," Myers said. "That is a candy store for them."

The company started as a catalog 10 years ago and has grown into a major distributor of specialty books, videos and audios on investing, market analysis and trading.

Its business group, which focuses on highly technical financial books for financial advisers, active traders and market professionals, has grown to include a publishing company in a separate division. It is scheduled to put on financial conferences in several cities this year. The conferences are geared to the company's audience, but open to the public.

Last year, Traders' Library shipped 250,000 products and had $10 million in sales, Myers said, a 70 percent increase over the previous year's sales.

The company markets its items by becoming a partner with financial magazines and publishers. Customers order through the magazines and publishers; Traders' Library's supplies the inventory of books.

For Traders' Library, which has penetrated the mail-order and Web markets, a bookstore in the reception area of its headquarters was a natural next step.

The store offers 1,500 titles and allows customers to preview audios, videos, and software. It is equipped with a computer on which customers can watch the market while they shop.

"In a way, they're already a bookstore," said Scott McKinstry, communications manager for the American Booksellers Association. He said a specialty bookstore is more prone to thrive because it has "a knowledge that's very valuable to the consumer."

The bookstore will give the company a tactical advantage as well, said John Crutcher, director of marketing at Bloomberg Press, one of the companies that has a partnership with Traders' Library. "They have a laboratory for what people are interested in," he said. "They'll learn things they can apply to the Web business and their catalog business."

Myers decided to open the 500-square-foot bookshop after seeing customers travel from Florida, Canada and Philadelphia to search for books on his warehouse floor. After spending several hours poring over the information, they would spend hundreds of dollars to take their finds home.

"People just would come and sit on the floor and read these books," he said. "We were afraid books were going to fall on them."

With the enthusiastic response the company received before the store has officially opened and an interest from business partners, Myers is thinking about expanding the idea. In the same way the company forms partnerships online, it may be able to set up small stores within brokerage offices.

"I can certainly see putting these a lot of places," he said. "Now we're thinking, who else has offices we want to be in?"

His salespeople are just noodling with ideas now, Myers said, but the concept would not be any different than the other ideas that expanded his business.

"The videos help sell the books, the books help sell the seminars," he said. "We just listen to the market."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.