Read Local: Collected Works

"It is no accident that all of Santa Fe turns out to support this local independent bookstore..."

Date March 22, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Publication SantaFe.com

Categories Authors & Literature Shopping

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Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe remains an iconic destination for residents of Santa Fe and longtime visitors to the City Different. The traditional aspects of a bookstore are all here, but opening the doors and stepping into Collected Works, you find the atmosphere very different. Collected Works is one of the most successful businesses of any kind in Santa Fe, a direct result of a dynamic, business-savvy mother/daughter duo who are always thinking one step ahead.

A Comfortable Spot To Read 

Collected Works Bookstore is a Santa Fe original, maintained as a place where readers, writers, artists and those who love a great cup of coffee can comfortably congregate.  Every week there is a new and different schedule of events taking place, giving customers a reason to visit often.  The store is light, spacious and intimate. Sit by the grand fireplace on the comfortable couch and enjoy a great coffee. Reading your newspaper or perusing a new book at Collected Works offers a welcome change from the repetitive decor of a chain coffee house. Attend an event at Collected Works. It is no accident that all of Santa Fe turns out to support this local independent bookstore with a stellar reputation for literary excellence and community service.

Helpful, Knowledgable Staff

Books of all kinds beckon to you. Everything from mysteries to children's books are available and kept current by a very busy and helpful staff. Well-trained and personable, any employee at Collected Works can help you find whatever you are looking for. They treat customers with an unparalleled level of respect.  Collected Works executes a business module that keeps the store profitable and fresh in the changing econminic climate of the bookselling business.

SantaFe. Com recently visited the bookstore and, over a morning latte, spoke with co-owner Dorothy Massy.

SFDC: There is really something different about Collected Works. You can feel that just walking in the doors.  What do you think that difference is?

MASSY: I am originally from New York—Long Island. I worked for many years as secretary to the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Rudolph Bing. From him, I learned how to build a working team. He was allergic to the word "staff."  Here at Collected Works we are all colleagues. I learned from him how to treat the people I work with.  My daughter Mary and I are a surprisingly great team. She runs the creative direction of the store. Mary is the one who laid out the floor space of the store. Her prior experience is with Apple We both have a deep-seeded commitment to the  creativity that is Santa Fe. The store is very community-oriented. Nonprofits in town know if they call upon Collected Works, they get the support they need. Our approach to having knowledgable colleagues and awareness to the community is what we feel makes Collected Works unique.

SFDC:  At the entrance to the store you have a board where weekly events are posted. What types of events are presented at Collected Works?

MASSY:  Events and service are a huge part of our business. We can seat up to 200 people for an event—for example, a reading and talk with a major author. We have hosted over 300  important authors here at Collected Works. On our walls we showcase local photographers and visual artists. Collected Works hosts opera lectures, collaborating with the Lensic prior to simulcasts of opera events at the theater. In our Children'sʻ Department, we host story hours every week and have an increasingly interesting line of toys and books available. High school and college classes hold poetry evenings here, giving young poets a performance space and allowing Collected Works to be a connection for school book fairs.  As a business
Collected Works is politically neutral, however we have hosted mayoral debates. 

SFDC: E-books and the popularity of Internet sales have hurt many independent booksellers and there is the feeling of a downturn in booksales nationwide. How has Collected Works remained current and profitable?

MASSY: Well, we noticed the  retail recession in 2008.  At that time, we made plans to include expansion of floor space, a cafe and coffee area and an upgraded  children's book area. In 2009,  we moved to our present location of 4,500 square feet with an outdoor patio area for use in the summer.  There is pressure everywhere but I believe in two things. First, there is a future in books and second, this is an interesting period of adjustment. We recognize the advent of self publishing and have instituted a model consignment program to help self-published local authors promote their works.  Of course, big box  bookstores hurt smaller booksellers like Collected Works, but we persevered and now our sales are up dramatically.  We believe in the community of Santa Fe. We buy local products for our cafe and stay connected with the community
at large through relationships with local nonprofits and our fellow business people throughout the city. I am very proud to employ 16 people, so we have helped the city economy by creating jobs at a time when job creation is on everyonesʼ agenda.

SFDC:  You came here from New York. What made you choose Santa Fe as home?

MASSY:  I love Santa Fe, it has been very good to me. After working as secretary to Rudolf Bing, at Maryʼs suggestion  I decided to buy a bookstore. I looked at existing businesses nationwide and when this store became available in Santa Fe, a city I had visited and was already enchanted with, I decided to come here. When Collected Works moved from its original location just a few steps down the street to this space, it was an unprecedented event.  We hand carried the books in a line from the previous store to here, truly a spectacle—books being passed from one hand to the next up the block from the old space to the new space.  I love this location. It has  historical significance. In 1923, it was the old El Fidel Hotel and of course we have the Billy the Kid story attached. It is said he was held in prison in the basement of this building. Santa Fe is home to me now. I just adore the city.

Dorothy Massy and her daughter Mary Wolf have created a warm literary masterpiece on San Francisco Street just steps from the Plaza. Stop in for a book, an event, a latte or a luscious piece of homemade pie. You wonʼt be disappointed in any aspect of this local treasure.

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