Photo by Joe Southern
Great customer service creates customer loyalty
There may not be a million books inside the walls of Katy Budget Books, but there are at least that many stories to be told.
The hybrid new and used book store is celebrating its 29th year of feeding the habits of local bibliophiles.
“I come here once a week,” said Ted Guntle of Rosenberg, who was purchasing dozens of used books during the opening day of the store’s semi-annual sale.
Twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall, the store clears out tens of thousands of books for $1 or less. Guntle, like thousands of others, hungrily hoard hardbacks and paperbacks during the 17-day reading frenzy.
“It’s the nicest bookstore I know of,” he said. “You can find what you want and if you can’t, they can order it for you.”
Customer service is the hallmark of the store that is managing to survive while scores of other mom-and-pop bookstores are succumbing to e-readers and online outlets.
“E-readers and digital content have had a significant impact on the book industry,” manager Richard Deupree said.
The store is owned by Tamra Dore, who was a regular customer at a small bookstore that she eventually bought. After a couple of relocations in the same area around Fry and Saums roads, Dore had the current facility built, and it has been home for 12 years.
“We offer customer service and services that you can’t get online,” she said.
She said loyal customers who have been with her from the start and the new ones who discover her store every day are the key to the success of the store.
“We couldn’t do it without them,” she said.
Deupree said Dore employs 30 people full-time, one of whom is his wife, Alicia, who was hired 22 years ago.
“You can’t touch the book knowledge and you can’t touch the passion for books we have here,” he said.
Deupree said the appeal of Katy Budget Books is the friendly atmosphere. He credits that to the example set by Dore.
“Tamra is extremely generous with employees and customers,” he said.
In addition to selling books, Katy Budget Books has frequent author signings, hosts children’s reading times, has special sales for teachers, emails regular newsletters, has a website and is active on social media online.
Deupree said the staff is so dedicated to their craft that they can read their customers as well as the books they buy.
“They can tell from whom you read what your next favorite book will be,” he said.
Katy Budget Books, 2450 Fry Road, Houston, 281-578-7770, www.katybooks.com