While scheming & plotting my way to bookstore ownership, I’ve considered a good many ideas — some brilliant & others brilliantly bizarre. One that has managed to trap my elusive attention is that of running a community bookshop. By doing this, I’ll be asking my neighbours to take an active interest in the success of my store. For, the better I do, the larger the disposable income they will make.
If I do incorporate this particular aspect into my business model, I’ll be able to provide consignment customers with a deidcated shelf (or shelves) on which they can display their goods. In return for this privilege, they’ll be charged a small rental fee — either an agreed upon flat rate, or a certain percentage of the selling price of each book.
As I prefer to keep things as simple as possible, I’m leaning towards asking for a monthly fee — something that will be fair to all involved. Of course, with this particular plan of action, I’d potentially be missing out on some considerable income. But, since it’s my intention to use the community shelves as more of a tool for marketing, rather than just a revenue-generating one, I’m willing to make only a modest profit from them.
With that said, there are a few details that I’ve yet to figure out. And, as I’m more of an idea person, I could use some help crossing my Ts, dotting my Is & adding the right amount of exclamation points.
Firstly, I need to determine what percentage of the store should be committed to community shelving space. This is going to be a rather small shop — no less than 300 sq. feet, but no more than 400 sq. feet — so I want to keep everything balanced. My thing is that I’ll allocate far too much space, or not nearly enough — I rarely walk the middle ground when it comes to most aspects of life.
Secondly, I need to create a certain amount of exclusivity as far as it concerns those who rent a shelf. Attracting serious sellers would be the ideal here, as they would actually put effort into bringing in worthwhile books. Would the simple existence of such a space be enough to entice them, or would some additional aggressive marketing be required?
Lastly, I need to consider pricing. The amount should be high enough to make it worthwhile for me to set aside the shelf space, but low enough to keep people’s interest. I also have to remember that I’ll most likely be setting up shop in a small city/large town, so setting a price that’s palpable to the locals would be advantageous.
Insights are welcome — especially if you’ve had any experience in running a community bookshop, or know someone who has. I’ve got roughly less than three years to put together a sound business plan, so take your time in answering.
December 20, 2010 - 11:36 AM