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Why Small Businesses Matter in Ridgefield: Books on the Common

Why Small Businesses Matter

Shop small, do big things for your community

Let’s make 2018 a big year for our Ridgefield small businesses and put a spotlight on the local merchants who donate their time, talent, goods, and services for the betterment of our community.

Three questions with Ellen Burns, owner of Books on the Common.

Why did you start your business?

We actually didn't start it - Books on the Common was founded in 1984 by Bob & Sally Silbernagel (now, Sally Ruggles) - sadly, Bob passed away in 1991.  Darwin and I were among their biggest customers, so when Sally decided to retire in 2004, we bought it from her.  Why did we buy it? Because we didn't want to live in a town without a bookstore!  And the timing was right, because Schlumberger (for which Darwin worked as a research physicist for 40 years) moved to Cambridge, MA and we didn't want to leave Ridgefield.  We moved the store from Copps Hill Common to our beautiful Main Street location in 2009.

2. Finish this sentence in regard to your business "I wish I could..."

I wish I could make people understand how important it is to support local retail businesses, and not buy from Amazon.  People love that our store is here, but we always say "if you don't buy your books from us, we won't be here!".  We order (electronically) twice a day, Monday through Friday, and can get most books the next day.  We meet with publisher reps from all the major publishers quarterly (and months in advance of the publication dates) to select books we think our customers will want to read.  We cannot compete on price, but we try to make up for that with great customer service, providing a curated collection of books on our shelves, and the experience of talking to real people about books.  We support many local non-profits as well: the Ridgefield Library, the Ridgefield Playhouse, CHIRP, the Theater Barn, the school PTAs, and so many others. 

3. How many local businesses do you use to support your business (products and services) and can you name them?

We work with Squashes (Ridgefield Office Supply) for copy services and office supplies (we send the W.B. Mason salespeople packing when the come to the store to solicit our business), Ridgefield Hardware for store maintenance supplies (we're so grateful they're right across the street), Ridgefield Printing for our gift certificates and other printing projects, Tazza Cafe nearly every day for coffee and lunches, and, most importantly, we sell greeting cards for a number of many local photographers and card designers - including Lois Brennan, Tina Cobelle Sturges, Betsy Goodenough, and many more. We also carry books for many local self-published authors.

Books on the Common is located at 404 Main Street. Visit them online here.

Books on the Common tag Tazza Cafe and new owner, Felipe Pelaez!

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