We talked to: Splendor Solis Books
Hi, Dianne and Kevin! Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your business, and why you chose downtown Northampton as a location?
Hello! Our business, Splendor Solis Books, grew slowly out of our shared addiction to and passion for visiting bookstores. We often found books that were valuable, and the more we discovered, the more we saw a potential business model starting to unfold. Initially, we were selling online and working on our social media presence and building a community. We also attended business classes in Springfield to get a better understanding of how to build a small business. Through vending and other events, we started to gain some momentum and grow our online presence. Then Covid hit, and we were done with events for a period of time. Thankfully, that's when Instagram really started to take off. We saw that people really enjoyed communicating about and buying books.
The next step was building our website, which Kevin did in August of 2021. At that point, things were starting to open up a bit again, and we went to a makers’ market in Boston. It was a lot of work to lug the boxes of books and a tent, but it felt really good to be out there again, interacting with people and selling books in person. We also learned how interested young people are in buying books, which was really exciting to see.
When we came to the end of the market season, we felt we were on the right path, but weren’t quite sure how to sustain it. We also really didn’t know if we wanted to be tied down by a brick and mortar store. But then this past fall, we were approached by a friend in the book-selling community who gave us the lead on this space, as Patty was looking for someone to purchase Gabriel Books. That’s when we felt like it was meant to be, and we should really follow the trail of breadcrumbs to see where this might lead. Honestly, if it was anywhere else, we’re not sure we would have taken on a store. But as an already established bookstore with inventory and a community, it just felt like the right fit. We didn’t want to pass on it and always wonder “what if?”
What are some challenges you endured, and what are some positive things that you’ve learned/that have come out of the past three years?
Initially, we definitely had a sense of existing in a vacuum, as social media can be isolating when you’re not also having in-person conversations with people. Though we built a community on Instagram and Facebook and were regularly chatting with folks, we still felt very removed outside of attending vending events. And then with the pandemic, we were working from home and operating solely online. We were enjoying the experience, but were also not able to tell if we were going in the right direction. We were also just entering into the world of social media, and trying to strike the right balance between presenting as a business while also adding a human element. The great thing that has come out of it is that the people we were interacting with online are now coming into the store and we have the pleasure of speaking face-to-face. There’s just something about that in-person interaction that feels different and is really meaningful to us. People are excited that we’re here, and are happy to be able to shop in our physical space rather than only online.
As business owners, what do you do to unwind/relax/rejuvenate?
Having both worked in the medical field for many years—and Kevin still does so part-time–we frequently worked 12-hour days. Now that we have the bookstore and open at 11AM, we have a bit more freedom in the mornings to enjoy coffee, meditate, read, write, and have our business meetings. We also love going book-shopping—it has always been such a fun, relaxing activity for us!
What are some exciting things coming up, from events to new books to updates in the shop?
Now that we’ve hooked up with Arts Night Out, we are excited to be hosting events in the store. We have a naturalist coming in on the 14th to speak about pollinators, and we’re also in conversation with some people about a workshop series on art, psychology, and the occult. Kevin is currently our default musician, and we’d love to bring in more folks to play on a regular basis. We’re always acquiring new books to build on what we already have, and we just revamped the fiction section. We have a budding poetry section as well, and will continue to add titles to that. And we’re eagerly looking forward to doing some vending events out in Boston again!
Fun little new Q: what’s your favorite spring food and/or beverage?
Dianne: I recently discovered iced mochas, so I’ve been enjoying that drink frequently— Familiars is my go-to cafe for those! I’ve also been eating a lot of different types of salads and am looking forward to incorporating more fresh veggies this spring and summer.
Kevin: I have been enjoying matcha, as well as fresh salads and different types of fish.