It’s been a long time and hundreds of miles later, but we remember our days at Sweet Home Vallejo!
Chatmon’s Books is the only bookstore of its type because it’s mobile and in Vallejo. In order to avoid overhead costs and remain accessible, the owners sets up shop at the Vallejo Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings from 9 am until 1 pm. The bookstore became popular quickly with affordable used and specialty books, ranging from $1 to $15.
I am co-owner of Chatmon’s Books. Charles Chatmon, my husband, operates the bookstore. If you read my entry about Chatmon’s Books at the Juneteenth celebration, you can probably understand why I was the featured author. It’s a form of vertical integration, don’t hate.
Both Charles Chatmon and I are authors. Charles is the author of two volumes of poetry – The Voices of South Central and The Depths of My Soul. I am the author of Shades of Retribution. By the way, my name is Chandra Adams. I love to read and write, and have had a long-time dream of owning a bookstore.
It’s probably becoming obvious that I do love Vallejo. The city is beautiful, most of the people I come across are very nice and down to earth. Before the economic meltdown I was out at the Farmer’s Market and Wednesday Night Celebration hot and heavy with my book. I am not much of a salesperson, but I am friendly and approachable on most days and those two attributes helped enormously with my book sales. I did receive somewhat of a forewarning about economic conditions when I started noticing my book sales decline after a year or so of getting my name out there. At that time I realized it was time to shift gears and get back to a full-time job, and thank goodness I did. A year or so later, Charles moved to Vallejo from Los Angeles, and with a little teamwork, we conceptualized Chatmon’s Books and have seen it grow into a thriving reality.
One thing I have learned from owning a publishing business is to grow business steady and slow. I managed to pour a lot of heart and money into my book and its promotion, and if I had the chance to do it all over again I would probably focus a lot more on the heart aspect and a lot less on the money. I certainly don’t regret any of my experiences or my investment, but I can certainly see why business experience is important in being successful. With that said, we continue to build Chatmon’s Books slowly but surely. Research into our demographics has discouraged any semblance of a large chain bookstore from coming to town, but I think the opportunity to offer Vallejo citizens an alternative to the library is important to the city’s progress.
Shades of Retribution
P.S.: Since this entry was published on the Sweet Home Vallejo website, the city gained one new bookstore as of this year, 2014.