By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – For many, Labor Day is just another day of work.
But for others, every day is a good day at work.
Count Jeanna Collins, Latonya Harrison, Susan Irvin, Glenn Payne and Beth Reichman among the latter.
They’re among a core of employees who have worked at Barnes & Noble in Tupelo since the store opened four years ago.
“It’s unusual to have people to stay with you that long,” said Star Newsom, one of the store’s managers. “I’ve been in restaurant and retail, and it’s really unusual because the turnover is so high in both. But they really are a great group.”
So what makes them stick with the place?
Quite simply, it’s an outlet for their creativity and their love of books.
“I love bookstores,” said Reichman, who oversees the music and movies section of the store. “Reading and movies are my hobbies, which is why I gravitated over here.”
Like several of her co-workers, she’s had previous retail experience.
Collins said B&N is the best retail job she’s had, especially since it matches her interests.
“My love of books makes it a perfect setting,” she said.
And Collins puts her hands on many, many books every day. As the bargains lead, she marks down the prices on books. She also removes books that have to be returned to publishers.
But like every other bookstore employee, she’s cross-trained to run any area of the store, including the cafe and the cash register.
With several thousand square feet filled with books, magazines and other merchandise, there’s never a lack of work.
That’s fine with Irvin, who started a part-time job with the store not long after she and her husband moved from Pennsylvania. Having been an avid Barnes & Noble fan, she understands what it’s like to be in a customers’ shoes.
“What makes me feel good is when you can find a book and put it in their hands,” she said.
Collins probably puts more books in customers’ hands than anyone, given her position. She’s the store’s community relations manager, which involves working with area schools and getting them the books they need. Book fairs and other similar events also fall under her wing.
Then there’s Payne, who also happens to be an award-winning independent filmmaker and artist, who finds the store an ideal outlet for his creativity.
Together, this core group of employees help make the store what it is because it’s a labor of love.
“They really are a great bunch to work with,” Newsom said.
And while working at a place they like to go every day is a plus, there are other bonuses for some.
“I know what’s coming out and when it’s coming out,” Reichman said with a grin.