Wi14 Education: Yes She Can — Programs and Partnerships to Empower Women

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The education session “Yes She Can: Programs and Partnerships to Empower Women” at the American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will feature a discussion among booksellers who are hosting events and creating opportunities to highlight women’s voices in their stores and the larger retail community.

ABA education logoAt the session, attendees will hear from booksellers who are fostering women entrepreneurs, cross-promoting with women-owned businesses, creating dynamic in-store programming, and more. Attendees will learn how they, too, can find ways to ensure their stores, their communities, and their business districts are dynamic and profitable, and how they can benefit from the fact that a diverse business district promotes a thriving local economy.

The booksellers on the panel are Casey Coonerty Protti, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, California, who will discuss the bookstore’s year-long programming effort Women’s Voices; Sarah Hollenbeck, co-owner of Women and Children First in Chicago, Illinois, who will share some of the ways her store buys, displays, and highlights books by women writers; and Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source Booksellers in Detroit, Michigan, who will talk about how publicizing the store’s victory in a small business contest helped her to raise the profile of both her business and the women-owned business scene in Detroit.

The session’s moderator, Mary Laura Philpott, works in marketing at Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, and runs the store’s online publication, Musing. Philpott, who is also the author of the forthcoming I Miss You When I Blink (April 2, Atria), said she is looking forward to the session, which she anticipates will showcase a “fantastic diversity of ideas” among the panelists.

“What I love about this group is that they’re excited to talk about ‘women’s voices’ in two ways,” said Philpott. “Not only how bookstores can raise the profile of female and female-identifying authors, but also how we can better tell the story of what women are doing in our industry and support women-owned businesses within our communities.”

In her role as a panelist, Coonerty Protti will explain how the store’s Women’s Voices program was able to generate a record-breaking year of engagement with customers and led to the creation of the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs, which connected the bookshop to other women-owned businesses.

Downtown Women's Voices poster
As part of Bookshop Santa Cruz's Women's Voices program, the store created posters of local women business owners to decorate the downtown's shop windows.

Bookshop Santa Cruz created the program in January 2018 in response to the #MeToo movement as a way to elevate women writers, further the dialogue around issues facing women today, and create a community conversation about equality via book selections, author events, reading challenges, and children’s programming. The experience, said Coonerty Protti, allowed the store “to fulfill our mission of engaging with the issues of today while also creating increased marketing awareness in our community and engagement with other women-owned businesses — a win-win-win all around.”

This upcoming panel, Coonerty Protti said, “will be a great opportunity for booksellers to understand how indie bookstores can strategically respond to what is happening in the world with innovative programs and opportunities that allow them to be at the forefront of these discussions in their communities. I hope booksellers walk away with ideas on innovative programs and partnerships they can create in their community and how that might ultimately create greater community connections and improve the bottom line.”

ABA’s Winter Institute 14 will be held January 22–25, 2019, at the Albuquerque Convention Center. “Yes She Can: Programs and Partnerships to Empower Women” will take place on Wednesday, January 23, from 2:10 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. in the convention center’s Ruidoso Room, 220 Upper East ACC.