2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge

Tina has read 2 books toward her goal of 40 books.
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Monday, August 17, 2009

MUSINGS on OWNING A USED BOOKSTORE - part 7

Ever since my friend Donna at Bookbound announced that she and her hubby are opening a used bookstore (see post here )http://booksbound.blogspot.com/2009/08/exciting-news.html (sorry everybody, I am really bad at linking :)

I have been think about my own bookstore and all the ups and downs I felt. I think Donna's post has made me a little nostalgic :) although I don't regret having bought the bookstore or selling it, I sometimes do miss the "freedom" that it gave me, although, contrary to popular belief - owning your own business does not mean you no longer have a boss (I went from having one boss when I worked in the corporate world to having hundreds and hundreds (my customers) when I opened my store! I also worked a crazy amount of hours - for the first two years, I worked over 100 hours per week as I did not have any staff and was basically open 6 days a week.

I remember how one day, I turned around and two years had already passed - and it felt as though only a few months should have passed. I think, for me, the best time were definitely the first two years.

Having said that, I was lucky enough that the bookstore was already operational when I bought it - Donna and her hubby are starting up from scratch - which is a challenge, but I think will be fun. Their bookstore will be exactly what they want it to be.

Sometimes, I think that I should have kept the bookstore as a "side" business - even though I left it to go back into the big, bad corporate world! But, to be honest, owning a used bookstore, in my opinion is a full time gig in itself and I just did not have enough of "me" to go around to do both.

One of the big challenges, of course, was/is to find someone who can work for you - who:

a) knows books;
b) is pleasant;
c) is honest;

the hardest part I think, for me, was finding someone who was honest. As you can imagine, tracking inventory coming in and going out in a used bookstore is not quite as easy or accurate as it would be at a major bookstore. It would have been quite easy for my employee to sell a book or 10 and pocket the money and I would have no way of really knowing.

As a matter of fact, before I bought the store (a few years before actually). Marc, the owner and my friend, asked me if I could work for him on a Saturday (he and his father usually manned the store and they had not employees) because they were all going to a family wedding. As it turns out, a guy came in and bought an old book that, i am sure, had been on the shelf, buried somewhere for years - the price $35.00. I was all excited to tell Marc about it and when I did, he had no memory of what book I was talking about - in other words, had I wanted to steal from them, I could have simply pocketed the money and they would never have known.

So, all of this to say, that I never felt quite comfortable leaving the store to anyone else except my mother - who HATED working at the store, but would do it if I needed her to. Towards the beginning of the third year, a client of mine, by the name of Sharon became a good friend and I ended up giving her the Sunday shift from noon to 4:00 p.m. and that worked out well for both of us until I sold the store.

Its tough to find someone you can trust and because I am also a control freak (yeah! i bet you had never picked up on that right?) it took me a long time to trust :)

Yet, when I think back on my owning the store, I mainly remember the great things about it and I think that Donna will be thrilled with her decision.

I wish them the best of luck!!!!

5 comments:

Myckyee said...

I love these posts! I'm getting a good idea of what I'm going to be in for!

I know what you mean about someone else working for you though since I still sometimes work for the used bookstore near me. The owner has to be trusting to be able to get a few days off and I must say he is with the few people he has working for him.

Tina, when you hear all about our travails with owning a used book store you may not feel so nostalgic anymore!

bermudaonion said...

I'm sure you'll be able to give Donna some great advice.

Doug Cloud said...

Reading this post I was reminded of Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail!' I have loved bookstores since I was a kid, but not just any book store - only the small, personal ones like Meg's in the movie. Over the years I have made certain bookstores a second home in the places I've lived. Now here in my hometown again I have become reacquainted with our local bookstore, The Bookman. Ah, it's good to be home again.

Melanie said...

Oh, Tina, you've brought back some memories! I agree with you on many of the points you made; even when we owned our shop I was still working full time so couldn't help out very often, except weekends. It is definitely a more than full time job to run your own business. Best of luck and good wishes to your friends.

(I also enjoyed the first couple of years the most. hmmm!)

avisannschild said...

Thanks for pointing me towards Donna's post, Tina! I must say that although owning a bookstore is a secret dream of mine, I'm not sure I'd be up for 100 hours of work every week. It's too bad I didn't know you back then; I would have been happy to work in your store! (Donna's is too far away...)

 
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