The Raven Book Store was chosen as one of The Pitch’s “Best of KC 2020” nominees out of over 63,000 nominations.
The Raven has also been nominated for “Best Bookstore” in Kansas City, Missouri, and “Best Retail Shop” in Lawrence. Voting closed on Sept. 30. The results will be revealed in The Pitch's November issue.
Chief Operating Officer of The Pitch Adam Carey says the nomination round started in July this year instead of June due to COVID-19. Kansas City locals had 450 categories to select nominations for with anything from “Best Place to Throw a Divorce Party” to "Best Barbecue Side Dish.”
After receiving the nominations, Carey took two days to go through every category to ensure there were no cheating attempts. Each category has approximately three to five nominees that received the highest number of nominations.
“Being a finalist on that list is a huge deal," Carey says. “So a way to grow your business is to get on that list.”
Raven Book Store owner Danny Caine found out he received his nominations at the end of August. Caine says it is an honor to be in contention with so many other great nominees, especially since Lawrence is 40 minutes away from Kansas City.
“We think what we do is important, and our community reflects that back to us,” Caine said. “The main thing is making sure that we’re the right bookstore for our core community of booksellers and customers.”
The Raven received national attention for the adaptations of its business model during the COVID-19 pandemic. The store is not currently open for browsing, but customers can do curbside pickup, home delivery or shipment through USPS. Caine says the attention — whether in Lawrence or Kansas City — is a nice bonus.
Carey says The Raven is a champion for bookstores, reading books and local shopping. He thinks that it means a lot that The Raven has always been a really loud voice for shopping local with your neighbors and the people that give money and beauty rather than going through Amazon.
Caine wanted to be the top bookstore choice in Lawrence when he took over ownership of The Raven in 2017. Some of his goals were to increase events programming and the store’s online presence through the website and social media. Caine says the store has become more outspoken about politics and other issues.
“Because we have a big platform, people are listening to us,” Caine said. “Having that platform, I want to make sure we're using it to work for good.”
He says The Raven speaks out about issues it believes in because it is the right thing to do, not to increase sales.
Voting for “Best of KC 2020” closed on Sept. 30. The Pitch normally hosts a Best of KC party the day that the issue drops. Due to COVID-19, The Pitch will host a virtual “Best of KC” week with different interactive events featuring different nominees.
“I think having a creative vision and offering a unique and engaging retail experience as a small business in 2020, this far into 2020, that alone is award worthy,” Caine said. “So we want it, but so does everyone else in the category. I would really love to see any of us win.”