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  • Writer's pictureRandy Reid

Minding Your Business - Card Carrying Books & Gifts

Name of Business: Card Carrying Books & Gifts

Address: 15 E. Market Street, Corning, NY 14830

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram: @cardcarryingshop

# Years in Business: 4

Owner/Owners: Randi & Dusty Hewit

Why did you start your business? In 2017, Randi and her good friend, Sarah Blagg, were in a feminist book club together. The group hatched the idea of a “feminist clubhouse” that would be on Market Street, our city’s main street full of retail and restaurants. They thought ideas of gender equality belonged on “Main Street,” as did

those about racial equality, LBGTQ+ rights, and more. The idea of a feminist bookstore was born from that discussion. They wanted a place that the community could use and meet in, a home for resources for activists, and a safe space – right in the middle of town – for people who the culture seemed to be marginalizing at the time.

Tell me about your business: Card Carrying features books for people of all ages, including fiction, children’s books, non-fiction, Young Adult (YA), and more. We carry best-sellers as well as off-the-beaten-path titles by and about women, non-white people, and LGBTQ+ people. We also feature gifts with activist or tongue-in-cheek themes including stickers, mugs, socks, etc. We offer four monthly subscriptions with different content and price points for adult and YA readers. We host author and activist events (event during the pandemic, we’ve been able to stay active in virtual settings), and a Teen Book club.

Who are your customers? Our customers are avid readers, tourists, parents, professionals, activists, and kids who are looking for books that center people who historically have not been front and center in literature.

What did you do differently during COVID that kept your business alive? As soon as the shutdown happened, we knew we had to do something differently or we would be out of business. Luckily, our customers and our community responded with overwhelming support. We immediately started talking up our subscription kits, which have grown over the past year. We also offered curbside service, home delivery, shipping, and virtual, private shopping where we would video-conference with customers and help them pick out their next reads, gifts, whatever – via FaceTime or Zoom. Customers said to us over and over, “We want to make sure you’re here when this is all over. What can we do?” And we just said “Keep reading.” We also increased our social media presence significantly. A closed group called the “Card Carrying Book Club” on Facebook now has more than 450 members and features info on new releases, discussions on specific titles, and just a lot of general “book love.”

Other Important Information: Many people in our area have been focused on supporting small businesses during the pandemic. Card Carrying can order from most major publishers, so please ask us if there’s something specific you’re looking for. We also support book clubs so if you are a member of a group and want to order your books from us, just send us the title and we’ll get to work. And finally, we support corporate/business needs as well so if you need large quantities of a title or titles for a conference or meeting, we can help with that as well. Bottom line: just ask! We’ll do whatever we can to help you with all your book needs.


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