DJ Ernst: Collection and Redistribution

In my previous post I explored the idea that DJ Ernst has been heavily influenced by the building of the bypass. Instead of focusing on the highway and the idea of place I will be using my business education to discuss the store layout. Comparing effective marketing strategies to the current store layout will provide insights on Homer’ strategy for displaying his inventory. His marketing strategy will determine what kind of collector he is as well.

The first rule of laying out a store is to have your most profitable items or best sellers to the right of the store. Most people are right handed and tend to walk right when entering a shop. These books will be the first thing that they see and might be what the customer walks out with. The right shelf does not have what I would consider best sellers considering the genres that it covered. The shelf held books about the outdoors and hunting. Being a Pennsylvania hunter, I appreciated that Homer dedicated a spot to it. Knowing other hunters, I would not see them entering a book store any time soon. From my personal experience, hunting knowledge comes from the numerous magazines that are offered. Perhaps somebody planning to hike the Appalachian trail would be stop in to pick up some books. Any one fit enough to hike the trail would be able to bend down to look at all the spines to pick out a book.

On the floor are the science fiction books that Homer has decided to stock. He is not a fan of science fiction and that is evident because he did not deem them worthy of shelf space. Many random books can be found on the floor. The front of the store by the windows also contain assorted books Homer decided to showcase. The floor behind the left window has 4 more rows of books. I once watched Homer accidentally step on a few trying to hang up a poster. He was much more graceful than I would have been trying to do the same thing.

Continuing down the right side you will find a shelf dedicated to philosophy, poetry, drama, fantasy, and satire. These books are located near the cash register and most likely where the books that Bailey and Fincke used to recommended would end up. This strategy works very well for DJ Ernst for a couple or reasons. First the red cash register will catch anyone’s eye that walks into the store. It is a distraction in a way and you are encouraged to go look at it. Doing this will lead you to those shelves. The second reason is that those books are located near Homer. College students coming in to find a book recommended by a professor will want to talk to Homer about it. He can not only show them were it is but engage in conversation with them. This is how independent books stores differentiate themselves and provide a unique service that chain bookstores cannot. The better the experience the more likely a student will make his store their personal bookstore.

Two steps away from the register are shelves lined with many different paperbacks. These books were cheap, but they were books Homer was interested in. When I asked for a book to read that he pulled a few from the shelves and said these were the ones he enjoyed. The placement of the paperbacks set them up to be an impulse buy. A customer approaches the cash register and starts talking to Homer. After a quick conversation they might end up with one or two more $2 books.

The left side of the store contains books that Homer is passionate about. Above the shelves are pictures of historic Selinsgrove and Homer’s old hangout spot. On the top shelves there are books that contain various records of historic Pennsylvania. The old pictures above the work would signal to historian walking into the store that the books they need are there. Marketing these books are difficult because people do not know they exist. The strategy that should be implemented for this inventory is that Homer displays them on the right side of the store. Those who walk in will become aware of these rare books immediately and will remember them because of the primacy effect. The primacy effect is that a person will better remember the first thing they see. However, they will not appeal to a wide audience and will take up space that could be dedicated to better selling books. Homer’s online presence helps the marketing of these rarer books.  The rest of the shelves contained war books and other historic topics. These books fit nicely on this side of the store. The left side is history and nonfiction while the right side is more creative.

The pride and joys of Homer’s collection are at the back of the store away from the casual window shopper. The books are expensive collectibles or antiques that Homer has offered for sale. While they are for sale, having the rare and high margin inventory out of sight is not typical for other businesses. Having worked at a car dealership for a few years, the sales team typically displayed all their Corvettes front and center under the lights. While the books are for sale, I don’t think Homer would mind not selling them. He wants to hang on to them and appreciate them for a while. He does any repairs the books need and maintains their appearance.

DJ Ernst is clearly a personal bookstore where the inventory reflects the owner. However, what interested me was the difference in Western and Eastern collecting. Western collecting is about gathering meaningful items that define you and keeping them. Eastern collecting is about gathering items to be redistributed (Clifford, 1998). While in the store I saw evidence of both. Homer is a western collector because he does have a personal collection that he is not willing to sell, but willing to talk about. A western collector will gather items and display them to inform people. The rare books in the back of the store indicate that he might be hesitant to sell them.

Homer is primarily an Eastern collector. His business strategy is to buy rare books that pop up for sale at auctions and then redistribute them. He selects books that have quality between the covers and wants to make them available to consumers at a reasonable price. Historic books and special editions will receive new homes so that they can be part of a new collections. Western collection is childish and is a rebellion against sharing. Homer wants to share not only to make money but to keep the appreciate for antique books alive.



DJ Ernst Store Layout. (2019, March 26). ThingLink.


Clifford, J. (1998). On Collecting Art and Culture.