2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge

Tina has read 2 books toward her goal of 40 books.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

MUSINGS on OWNING A USED BOOKSTORE


After I mentioned, in one of my previous posts, that I use to own a used bookstore, I received a few emails suggesting that I blog about my experiences, so I thought I would do a blog every week, based on my memories and experiences of being a bookstore owner.

I owned my used bookstore from 2001 to 2005. Actually, I discovered this bookstore, in my town of Verdun when I was about 20 (this was in 1982) years old and became friends with the owners - a father/son duo. I became good friends with the son who was around my age. His name was Marc and we would often see each other since I was at the store so often!!!!


Over the years, I ended up replacing Marc and his dad a few times at the store when they had family events, but did not want to close the place down.

The store had an inventory of approximately 200,000 books, but this was difficult to accurately assess (as I would later find out the hard way) because they did not have it catalogued in any way and there were rows and rows and rows of books upstairs and a ton of books downstairs in the dark, dreary HUGE basement.


Needless to say, this business was well established and in late 2000, Marc's dad died, very unexpectedly (right in front of the store actually). Marc continued on for a while, but by this time, he had finished his graphics arts degree and was itching to leave - but he kept the store going so that his mom would get an income.

By April 2001, I had enough of my job in HR. I had been at the company since 1987 and had built their HR dept from scratch, had seen 3 different presidents and was burning out with both exhaustion and burn out!!! On a chance phone call, Marc mentioned that he was thinking of selling his business and I immediately, without thinking at all about it beforehand, "how much?" - he told me and I said "OK, I am buying it". I got the store in June 2001 and started working there officially (quit my job) on September 12, 2001 - the day after 9/11!!! However, Marc stayed on from the time I bought it until September 12 and in the meantime, we painted the entire store over (which was quite a job as we had to move every single book in the place). However, the store had not been painted or re-decorated since the mid 80's.....


On my first morning coming in, I walked in with a cup of coffee in my hand and a huge smile on my face - only to discover that, overnight, my upstair neighbor (the store was on the first floor and the two top floors were rented out (sort of) by a slumlord who basically rented to anyone who claimed they could pay (usually people on welfare who drank all day) - as a matter of fact, that is what happened to me on that first day! the guy upstairs turned on his bath tub, started drinking and forgot about the tub, which, of course, overflowed and leaked, in torrents downstairs on huge, huge chunks of my books.

Imagine my face when I walked in and was confronted with the fact that a huge part of my ceiling was now on my floor and that approximately 5000 books were now so soaked with water, that we needed a crowbar to remove them off the shelves. I wanted to cry!!!!

I immediately called in my savior - my mother and together we picked up the ceiling that was on the floor and tried to get rid of most of the books that were now useless (so sad). Of course, as Murphy's Law would have it, some of my best (and harder to replace) books were hit! Once we did this, we removed the old carpeting (which I had intented to get rid of anyway) and thank every saint for the fact that, for the most part, the paint job was untouched.


After we did this, we decided to open the store anyway and I got on the phone with the landlord who basically told me "compared to what happened in New York (9/11) you have nothing to complain about". I could not believe he said that "you are an idiot" I told him and immediately called my insurer (we had taken pictures (this was before digital cameras were so popular).


The clients kept coming in and commenting on how horrible for me and how sorry they were. I was amazed at the amount of clients who offered to help me with cleaning or re-painting!! They were sooo nice and the absolutely funniest thing had to be the fact that clients were walking around, under, over and through pieces of plaster that were still on the floor or puddles or other obstacles - all in an attempt to get to the book they wanted.

It goes to show you that a true booklover will never let anything get in the way - between them and the book they want!!!


More next week.

14 comments:

Diana Dang said...

Thanks for sharing, it was interesting to hear about your time as a used bookstore owner!

bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, what a horrible way to start your first day with your new business!

Myckyee said...

Ouch! What a memory.

Love the pic you have at the top of the post.

Cindy said...

Tina, I think I am really going to love this feature on your blog. I have to agree what a way to start your first day.

Isn't it true though that no matter what people need to get to their books.

Remember the ice storm? When I was at coles during that we would have people asking to open so they could buy a book. Of course we couldn't.

Meghan said...

Wow, what a start that is! I hope the rest of your time running the bookstore was more successful!

avisannschild said...

I have a feeling you had told us that story before, but wow, you must have been discouraged! Thank goodness your mom was able to help!

Cheryl said...

Wow. What an experience. Yes, Thanks for sharing.

Alea said...

I can't wait to read more, how interesting!

Gwendolyn B. said...

Way to leave us hanging! I'm on the edge of my seat!

Diane said...

What a great story. I always wanted to own or at least work in a book store :)

Irene Yeates said...

Love it! The joys of ownership!! I know, my husband and I owned our own small business for 13 years. And for 13 years, I had nightmares.

cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com

Lit and Life said...

I've heard of trial by fire, but never trial by flood! How fantastic that customers were such fanatics that nothing would deter them.

Eclectic Book Worm said...

I love this post! I've always wanted to own my own bookstore and it's fun to hear from people who have had the experience! Have you ever read "The Kings English" about the indie bookstore in Utah? And what a way to come into your first day in the store! Talk about trial by fire! Can't wait for the next installment!

Tina said...

Eclectic!! Thank you for the referral on a book about a bookstore. I will check it out!

 
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