South Vancouver book store uses traditional strategies to stay relevant

A manga book store in South Vancouver is one the cities most popular, despite not having social media presence.

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By MILICA ANIC

In a digital age where competition is fierce, a South Vancouver bookstore takes an old-school approach to business.

Atsuko Yamashita, the owner of Half Moon Bookstore on Main Street near Marine Drive, hasn’t changed her business strategy since she opened the store in 1999 selling manga, anime comics and promotional products.

“I usually don’t deal with things that I don’t know,” Yamashita said. “I could learn it but I’m busy dealing with [the] store, so I think I’m sticking with a website on Facebook right now.”

Tradition over Technology

Yamashita stays away from social media and instead takes a traditional approach in building one on one customer relationships. Her bookstore is among similar businesses in Vancouver that don’t use social media heavily even as they face increased competition online.

Yamashita said that she is “technologically illiterate” and doesn’t know much about social media.

Yamashita uses a Facebook account and an incomplete website to post products, but both were built by her friends. She lost access to her original website when a friend with the passwords passed away, so she relied on a customer who was a student to help her set up a new website for free.

“We are lucky that we have really dedicated customers,” Yamashita said.

She said that the ideal situation is to have a complete website, but she doesn’t have the time to build it.

“I don’t think we touched 20 per cent of what we have, but hopefully we will complete the website in the future,” said Yamashita.

JoAndrea Hoegg, professor of marketing and behavioural science at UBC, said social media is a critical tool, but it’s only one of the multiple tools, so some businesses can get away with not using it.

“The decision to be on social media or not should be driven by an understanding of the situation,’’ Hoegg said.

Do businesses need social media at all?

Patrick Shaughnessy, owner of Golden Age Collectables in Vancouver, said that he is not dependent on social media, but his business is still thriving.

“We do the Facebook, we do the little bit of YouTube stuff and, and the others, but we’re not a huge player in that,” Shaughnessy said.

He said there was a time when businesses were happy when the competition went out of business, but now comic book stores are disappearing.

“At this point, you’re sad when your competition goes out of business because you don’t want the comic book collecting or reading culture to go away,” Shaughnessy said.

“It’s good to have good competition. Our competition tends to come more from people who are interested in other things or online.”

Yamashita said competition is getting severe. Previously, her store faced limited competition for Japanese-oriented English comic books in mainstream book stores, but now they are top sellers everywhere and manga is becoming more mainstream.

She said that competition is good for her business.
“I think if you sell manga or sega more people will be involved with manga,” said Yamashita.

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