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.