The Austin Chronicle


By Clay Smith, February 25, 2000, Books

Beauty, by the Book

Kathy Patrick wasn't supposed to be cutting hair on Monday, February 14, but it was Valentine's Day and "women want to get their hair done for Valentine's Day." That may seem like a strange thing for an independent bookseller in the far East Texas town of Jefferson to say, but since the name of Patrick's store is Beauty and the Book, and since Patrick is a bookseller and a hairdresser and performs both duties out of the same space, working an extra day seems like a perfectly reasonable accommodation to her customers' needs. Speaking between hair appointments, Patrick took a moment to explain her modus operandi: "It's really creative, let me tell you. I'm normally open Tuesday through Saturday, but because this is Valentine's Day, I'm open because women want to get their hair done for Valentine's Day. But what I do is I have several authors scheduled, and on those days I don't book hair appointments, and on the days that I'm not doing author events I schedule hair appointments, and it's all working out so far." Then she said, "But I've only been open three weeks."

Talk about niche marketing. The potential for handselling must be limitless. Does Patrick talk to her clients about books when she's cutting their hair? "Yeah, yeah!" she exclaimed. "That's all we talk about is books and movies. There isn't a whole lot of entertainment here," she acknowledges. "So, you know, this has become kind of a place to hang. And usually nobody comes in by themselves, it's a group, and they sit around and I do each one of their hair. We talk about books, we talk about everything, and nobody walks out the door empty-handed, believe me."

Jefferson may only claim 2,200 people, "but there's a 'but' to that," Patrick says, because Jefferson is the Bed & Breakfast Capital of Texas. There are more than 66 bed-and-breakfast establishments there. Drumming up business seems routine for her, though. A former children's book buyer for Barron's in Longview, Texas, Patrick was most recently a publisher's sales rep for Southern Territory Associates. "I did that for two and a half years," Patrick said, "and then I got downsized last fall because I'd lost so many bookstores that I really didn't have an account base, so I was let go, downsized." She needed a job. "I thought, 'Well, this is what I've been waiting for, I might as well jump in.'"

Mixed Notes

Congratulations to David Marion Wilkinson for winning the Western Writers of America's Spur Award for short fiction for his story "Opening Day." Read it at ... Congress Avenue Booksellers is going to close in early April, but their stock is now discounted 20% off and will be 30% off beginning March 1... Southwest Texas State will host a symposium titled "Understanding Vietnam" on March 2. Oral historian Joan Morrison, author of From Camelot to Kent State: The Sixties Experience in the Words of Those Who Lived It, will discuss Vietnam and the Sixties at 3:30pm in the Taylor-Murphy history building, room 101. At 7:30pm, National Book Award winner and SWT Mitte Chair in Creative Writing Tim O' Brien will deliver a talk titled "Inventing Vietnam." Following his talk, he, Morrison, and SWT history professors Mary Brennan and Gary Rice will hold a panel discussion on Vietnam and the Sixties.

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