Taking My Love for Books to the Next Level (my BIG secret project revealed!)

Reading time 7 mins

Okay, here goes…

In 2018 I have a BIG resolution. Something I have never tried before, but always wished for myself. I have always wanted to be a business owner. So in 2018 I am going to make this a reality. What kind of business, you ask?

I am planning to open a bookstore this year.

Reality check “Why would anyone want to open a bookshop when everything is going digital?

There is something magical about a independent book shop. ‘Shop Local’ has become a mantra for striving communities across the nation. Although books can be bought online, I know that personal recommendations, not projected by an algorithm, provide more value to the consumer. I buy most books online based on YOUR recommendations.

I think I understand the frustration of this local community in finding great books and a place where book clubs and those in literature communities can meet. There really isn’t any. As a book lover, I can anticipate some of what shoppers hope to find in a local independent bookstore.

I have thought a lot about this. There aren’t any local bookstores near me, in Southern Hartford county. There are only book stores and that are niche specific. There is a Barnes & Noble, but it is across the river about 7 miles away (I have been there, they are hella busy and have loads to offer). There is an African American bookstore, a Christian bookstore, a Used online-only bookstore, and a Muslim bookstore but there are no all-inclusive independent bookstores locally. I live in an affluent part of Connecticut, in Southern Hartford County, and it seems a shame that there isn’t a local shop near me that I can support.

Ever since we moved to Connecticut, I have been looking for a local bookstore to call my own. You know, the sort of store I can go in and get personalized recommendations. I want a place that hosts authors and book clubs and has big comfy chairs. There isn’t anything like that near me. So I am going to open up our own book store. That Book Store, LLC. Belle made me a logo, (and she wants to tweak it now that she has seen it blown up. I love it but, I see her point, so I will allow her to clean it up).

I am going all-in to make That Book Store a reality. Here is what I have done so far:

  • Filed That Book Store as an LLC with the state of Connecticut (i actually need to have Belle fix the logo so it includes llc *adds that to my to-do list*)
  • Paid for a sales and tax permit with the state of Connecticut
  • Obtained a federal tax ID to pay payroll and federal taxes
  • Joined American Booksellers Association
  • Obtained a mentor through SCORE (my mentor has over 30 years experience in the book trade, we haven’t actually had a face-to-face meeting yet)
  • Purchased the domain for That Book Store
  • Purchased an SSL for the store website which includes McAfee security for purchases
  • Set up a website for the store thatbookstore.com
  • Put together a business plan (okay, I am only about 75% done with this portion)
  • Picked a point of sale system that is affordable and functional
  • Set up an account with a wholesale book distributor
  • Started an email campaign for people to subscribe to for details about progress and events
  • Went on a local book store “tour” to see exactly what competition look like (spoiler alert, there isn’t anything within 7 miles of my house)

My daughter, Belle, is going to be my store manager for at least the first six months while I continue working full-time at my current job. Belle and I have loads of ideas about the kind of events we would like to host. You can check out our store website to see some of those ideas, although it doesn’t have any products as of yet (you can also find out what my real last name is there though, just fyi). We are currently working on doing some pop-up events locally, (like conventions, art exhibitions, and fairs), to generate some buzz.

We hope to have an address for this store by July, but it may take longer than that. I can’t wait to be a bookstore owner!

Why I am telling you all this?

First of all, I am really excited about this. It is also taking up a lot of my would-be blogging time. I have spend hours on the internet. Here’s what I have been researching:

  • start up costs
  • places to get inventory
  • beginner bookseller stories
  • American Bookseller’s Association forums
  • average bookstore size
  • places to get shelves/furniture
  • point-of-sale systems and costs
  • local resources for money
  • Small Business Association classes and resources
  • potential crowdfunding
  • potential commercial locations and costs

If I attend BookExpoAmerica this year, it will be as a bookseller. How exciting is that?

Also, I have an important decision to make right now…

I am at the critical financial portion of this venture and I have a few options to choose from. Some of you might remember that I have a home in Florida. I have considered selling it in the past. Now this comes to the forefront as a major deciding factor for me. As much as they talk about supporting small businesses, most banks see book stores as a BIG risk (thanks in large part to Amazon).

Option 1) Sell the house in Florida.

  • If I sell the house in Florida I stand to make between $20-$50k (maybe more) since the home is worth so much more now. That would give me enough money to pay off some bills which would raise my credit score. I can then either: use what’s left for a very lean budgeted storefront, and/or borrow the money from a bank for start-up costs.

Option 2) Keep the house and use it as collateral.

  • As you can imagine, I am terrified to do this. My blood-related tenant isn’t exactly a sure bet for the mortgage every month. But, in truth, I can borrow a lot more using the house as collateral. I have done the math and I can start a bookstore with as little as $10,000. If I want it to be an actually dream come true storefront, I need more like $100,000+.

Option 3) Use Crowdfunding.

  • There are loads of options for crowdfunding on the internet.
  • There is strictly “crowd” crowdfunding, where I ask for donations.
  • “Angel investor” crowdfunding, but most crowdfunding angel investors will want part of the profits from the business and I am not too keen on that idea.
  • Crowdfunding which involves perks for investors (like tee-shirts, discount, gift cards, etc.). Perk crowdfunding seems like fun, but this option is also a bit scary since I don’t have much to offer an investor. Other than a gift card, discount card, or a name on the wall of the store, I would need to invest in something for this type of crowdfunding to work. Of course, perk type of crowdfunding is where I am most likely to be successful if I use crowdfunding at all.

Obviously, if I decide to go with Perk Crowdfunding, I need to find perks. I am already thinking that I want to carry some book nerd merchandise. I hope I can find some for the perks and to carry in the store.


I am not 100% how I proceed from here. If you have any thoughts I would love to hear them. I would love your really feedback at this point.

Which option would you choose? Also, is opening a bookstore a crazy idea?

Do you want updates on how this is going or is this just plain ole boring to read about? What say you?

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By | 2018-01-16T05:57:56+00:00 Sunday, January 14, 2018|Discussions, Mind Vomit, That Book Store|36 Comments

About the Author:

Mother, Lover, Writer, Reviewer, Social Media Princess. Karen has been a blogger since 2010. She is a US Army veteran, a medical professional, and the mother of four. She reviews books and shares mind vomit for this blog in her 'spare' time. Karen lives in New England.

36 Comments

  1. Trish @ Between My Lines
    Twitter:
    January 14, 2018 at 4:52 am - Reply

    Oh wow Karen, I’m very excited for you! That would be a dream job for me, and I love all your ideas for the store. Especially as a place for book clubs. That’s a smart idea, as it will draw readers in and readers need books! Sounds like it will have a lovely atmosphere. Now if only I lived close enough to visit!
    Wishing you all the luck in the world with your exciting venture.

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 14, 2018 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Thanks Trish, I do too! I’m afraid I would have to hire you to work the store, since you always have such fun ideas. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your positive thoughts!

  2. Sam@WLABB January 14, 2018 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Wow! You are so brave and bold. I love it! I wish you nothing but success. And hey, if you have any chance of making this happen, I say follow your dream, because regret sucks.
    Check Out Sam@WLABB’s most recent post- Sundays with Sam – The Sunday PostMy Profile

  3. Kari @ Kari Reads and Writes January 14, 2018 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I read this post with a lump in my throat. Always my dream to have a small, cozy indie bookstore!

    I say go for it, definitely (!). If it fails, it was at least worth following your dream. You never know until you try. I don’t understand bank loans that well so I can’t help you there. I would hazard a guess that you should keep the house to be able to borrow more from the bank. Is there a way to get another tenant in there who will pay rent reliably? I know, you’re dealing with family, so….

    Good luck! When–not if– you open up post a link here and ask each of your blog followers to order a book/bookmark/coffee mug from you. Every penny will count and wouldn’t it be better to give the money to a fellow blogger than to B & N??

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 14, 2018 at 10:55 am - Reply

      I definitely will. I am in the process of merging some of my “personalities” online so that people can see that I blog here and am creating this project with that knowledge. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your encouragement Kari!

  4. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity January 14, 2018 at 10:17 am - Reply

    This is so very cool and I am so pleased for you. As book bloggers we’re all obviously passionate about books but I love that you are putting that passion out there to try and provide something which is missing in your community and that’s awesome. If I lived near you your idea of a bookshop is exactly what I would want to have. I totally want updates on this project because I want to see it become a reality. Crowdfunding is a viable option but it’s obviously a difficult one because incentivising it is hard to do when you want most of your capital to go towards the bookstore. It’s definitely something to research, maybe t shirts and stuff would be good. Or a discount card that would be good for so long. You’ll have to have a think but I wish you all the luck and want to see your updates as you go.
    Check Out Becky @ A Fool’s Ingenuity’s most recent post- Sunday Summary // 14.01.2018My Profile

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 14, 2018 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      I have actually been brainstorming incentives all day and I came up with quite a few. My daughter is going to get to work on a Zine for the store and we will do bookmarks, shelf dedications, and a few more things. I am so excited. It is great to hear that you, my friend, support this idea. I was sure bloggers would tell me I was crazy. Thanks for your support!

  5. Rosie Amber January 14, 2018 at 10:42 am - Reply

    Good luck with your project.

  6. Aimee (Aimee, Always)
    Twitter:
    January 14, 2018 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Oh my gosh, this is AMAZING news!!! <3 We have two big bookstores in our country (National and Fully Booked), and of the two I only choose to support one (the latter) because of its awesome customer service and fabulous atmosphere. I think That Book Store is going to have both, based on how you're describing it and how passionate you are about it! And I find it SO awesome that your daughter will be working on it with you! <3 <3

    – Aimee @ Aimee, Always

  7. Krysta @ Pages Unbound January 14, 2018 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I love that you’re opening a bookstore! I’m always wondering how I can support literacy in the community more, but you’re actually doing it! Just by making books accessible to people who can’t/won’t walk seven miles and by making your shop a community space, you’re making reading seem normal and fun! That’s a big deal!

    I don’t know much about bookstores/business (I’ve never opened one), but I know that my local bookstore has kept open largely by offering non-book options (the irony). So they have a cafe, stationery and other gift items, etc. And they have also in the past rented space out to other businesses. That really seems to have been what has allowed them to stay open while I have watched every other local bookstore shut its doors. 🙁 That and they offer a lot of local interest stuff you can’t get online.

    But I’d love to hear more about your bookstore! This is super exciting!

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 14, 2018 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Yes, I do plan to offer a lot of non-book type items. I hope to have a lot of nerdy book stuff, the kind of stuff that comes in Owlcrate and on etsy. I also hope to host a lot of events, but renting out space is another good option. I hope I can find a space that is large enough for all the events I hope to host. Thanks for your support, it means a lot to me.

  8. Jenea's Book Obsession January 14, 2018 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Oh My Goodness!!! I think it is an amazing idea and I do wish you all the luck in the world too. It might be a little scary at first, but I really believe you will love it. Follow your dream hon!!! I signed up for the updates too. 🙂

  9. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight January 14, 2018 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Oh what a wonderful plan! If I had the energy and knew anything about business, I think running a bookstore would be great, so I love that you’re doing this. Clearly you’ve done a lot of work and research, and you have some great ideas. I have no advice about the finance stuff though since I don’t know much about all that, but I hope everything works out well! I’d be happy to hear about updates, I thin this is exciting 🙂

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 14, 2018 at 7:58 pm - Reply

      I don’t have the the knowledge but I am learning. I am really motivated with some fun ideas. I might actually go with a crowdfunding project because I have a bunch of perks I want to offer. Thanks so much for your support, it means a lot that my blogging friends are excited too!

  10. Janine January 14, 2018 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    What an exciting venture! Good luck with deciding your best choice for funding.

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 14, 2018 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much for your support Janine! It means so much that people are excited about this.

  11. Let's Get Beyond Tolerance January 15, 2018 at 12:14 am - Reply

    I was not expecting this as your big surprise – not that I had an actual idea! LOL I’m so excited for you and your daughter. I love this so much. It sounds like your area could really use a bookstore like this, and I hope that everything works out the way it’s meant to and it’s very successful. Please do keep us updated!!

    -Lauren
    Check Out Let’s Get Beyond Tolerance’s most recent post- Wild Trail by A.M. ArthurMy Profile

  12. Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature
    Twitter:
    January 15, 2018 at 11:25 am - Reply

    That is so exciting! I think I would maybe sell the house and get a loan. But that is me. Crowdfunding is a neat idea, but does it really always work? That would be my worry. I wish you so much luck in this. Owning a bookstore would be such a neat idea! Good luck! And keep us updated on how things are going!
    Check Out Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature’s most recent post- Blog Tour Review with Giveaway: Unconditionally (Contract Killers #2) by Erin LyonMy Profile

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 15, 2018 at 5:56 pm - Reply

      I have some interesting perks to offer if we do decide to do crowdfunding. I am leaning toward selling the house. Thanks for your input Lisa!

  13. Wendy @ Falconer's Library January 15, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    This is fantastic! I know small businesses are super challenging to get started, but you obviously have the brains and energy to make it happen. Where I live (Portland, OR) we have mostly seen big box stores closing their doors but independent stores hanging on. The only exception I can think of is when a long term neighborhood bookstore opened another storefront across town that only lasted a couple of years. I would think that your part of Connecticut would support small bookstores in the same way. We definitely will want to hear about your journey!

  14. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction January 15, 2018 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    Wow, Karen! I can’t even imagine such a huge venture, and I wish you all the luck in the world! Keep us updated so we know how we can help!
    Check Out Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction’s most recent post- Sunday (Monday) Post & Giveaways GaloreMy Profile

  15. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    Twitter:
    January 17, 2018 at 10:29 am - Reply

    That is awesome! You’ve done so much already and how awesome that you and your daughter are working together on this. I’m not sure what I’d do for funding but you do have some great options. I can’t wait to see your progress!
    Check Out Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library’s most recent post- Many a Twist – Cozy Mystery ReviewMy Profile

  16. Di @ Book Reviews by Di January 17, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Oh my gosh! KAREN! This is amazing! I am so, so, so excited for you! I wish I could come and visit and your ideas about hosting book groups and children’s stories and arts and crafts – it’s what I love the most bout places surrounded by books. Libraries and/or bookstores that do these things!

    I like the idea of Crowdfunding and the perks option. Some bookish type swag that doubles as advertising for your store is a great option – bookmarks, buttons, stickers, bumper stickers… There’s nothing to day you can’t do all the things though, right? House and Crowdfunding? I’m not sure on your timeline and funding requirements but I’d say if you need lump sums that selling is going to be the best bet and then use Crowdfunding as a slower stream? Not that I know much about how these things work!

    I wish you all the luck in the world and can’t wait for more updates.
    Check Out Di @ Book Reviews by Di’s most recent post- Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Shadow Weave – Annette MarieMy Profile

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 17, 2018 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the luck! We are researching crowdfunding perks and Belle helped me to come up with some fun ideas. I will keep you posted!

  17. Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA
    Twitter:
    January 18, 2018 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Opening a bookstore is an AMAZING idea, Karen! This is something that I have been thinking about and talked to my husband and basically EVERYONE about but the catch is that I want to open it in my hometown (which is in a country not in the US). So.. this will probably be a “when I win the lottery” or when I retire.. LOL

    But good luck on your venture!
    Check Out Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA’s most recent post- A Well Earned HEA! Be with Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout [Audiobook Review]My Profile

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 19, 2018 at 8:09 am - Reply

      I am finding that funding is my #1 obstacle. I do have some ideas for how to generate some money so hopefully I can make this work. Thanks for your encouragement Zeee, it means a lot to me!

  18. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf January 20, 2018 at 12:18 am - Reply

    Whatever the usual risks with an independent bookstore, I’ve seen more of them on the rise (partly in reaction to B&N and Amazon) and a decrease in ebook sales (about time that we see the down swing of the market). I think this has a good shot of succeeding right now from a market standpoint. I don’t want to advise you on a big financial decision like this, but I wish you the best.

    • Karen Blue
      Twitter:
      January 20, 2018 at 8:07 am - Reply

      I was just throwing out my options. Sometimes writing them out like that helps me actually make a decision by the time I hit publish. Thanks so much for your encouragement and input Carrie!

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