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Bookstore Celebrates Enhancements

Bob Lingle, owner of the Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, with his wife, Shannon, and children, Harper and Harrison, inside the Lakewood book store. Lingle is celebrating a full year of ownership and is introducing a new e-commerce website, loyalty program and author events for 2019 and beyond. P-J file photo

LAKEWOOD — For nearly 10 years, the Off the Beaten Path Bookstore has been the one-stop shop for books from locally and nationally known authors, and current owner Bob Lingle intends on bringing new advancements to his business this year.

About to celebrate a full year of having owned the Lakewood bookstore, Lingle is ready for his anniversary event March 2, which will coincide with the launch of a new e-commerce website at Patrons will be able to shop for Off the Beaten Path books in-person and online for the first time.

“Our entire inventory will exist online, and you can have items shipped or picked up in store,” Lingle said.

Lingle’s first day of business was March 1, 2018, and he brought with him the support of his family, namely his wife, Shannon, and two children, Harper and Harrison. Since then, Lingle has become a more active member of the Lakewood community, in part by leading the effort to restart the Christmas in the Village event that brought many small businesses, including his own, further into the community.

The March 2 event will also see the launch of the bookstore’s new free-to-join loyalty program. Customers’ purchases will be tracked, and $10 for every $100 spent will be offered to anyone who signs up.

“This is just rewarding customers for continuing to come back to us,” Lingle said.

Also on March 2, customers will be offered 10 percent off on all purchases, and there will also be surprise giveaways.

Off the Beaten Path will continue to host local authors, with the first event featuring Lissa Marie Redmond on March 30. She was the store’s top-selling author in 2018 and plans to promote her new book, “The Murder Book,” the second installment in her Cold Case Detective series.

Lingle said customers and book enthusiasts seem to come to the bookstore for both locally grown literature and more mainstream titles. The top 10 best-selling books of 2018 include five books from local authors and five popular, nationally syndicated books.

To “expand our reach to authors who normally wouldn’t visit a small town in Chautauqua County” and continue to encourage enthusiasm in a variety of content, Lingle is bringing nationally recognized best-selling authors through Virtual Author events at the Lakewood Memorial Library. The first Skype question-and-answer session with an author will feature Devin Murphy of “The Boat Runner” fame, and he will promote his new book, “Tiny Americans,” which is set in Western New York. This event will be hosted at the library May 30 at 5:30 p.m.

“I feel like we … learned who our customers are,” Lingle said. “It was definitely a learning experience.”

Jerome Buting, known for writing “Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer,” is also tentatively planned to participate in another Virtual Author event at the library later this year.

“People (are) encouraged to come with questions,” Lingle said.

Lingle said the past year has been successful for Off the Beaten Path as the community continues to support the 28 Chautauqua Ave. store. He said Small Business Saturday in November was the best day for the store and that December was the best overall month in terms of sales.

“Whatever it is, I’m glad that it’s working,” Lingle said. “Just about everything went as I hoped it would.”

He hopes Off the Beaten Path will be a comfortable place to celebrate creativity and ideas across various different genres and styles. Due to local interest, Lingle is gathering more business-related books for his inventory.

The bookstore will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in April, which will include a celebration during Independent Bookstore Day with exclusive offers April 27.

Off the Beaten Path Bookstore is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Anyone interested can contact the store at 720-4917.