A New London CT Bookshop Dream

New London dream bookshop

To go directly to Indie GoGO to donate money to help get indie bookstore Monte Crisco up and running:

  http://www.indiegogo.com/montecristobookshop

With major changes to the entire industry leaving the concept of a bookstore, period, on shaky ground, opening an independent bookshop during these uncertain economic times sounds like savings suicide. Yet, this is exactly what a pair of eager entrepreneurs, Chris Jones and Gina Holmes are doing. At least, hopefully will be doing, because as anyone who has ever tried to own and operate a business knows, it ain’t easy. Jones and Holmes, (sounds like a great name for a mystery series–the Jones and Holmes bookshop mystery series set on New London’s mean streets) are using an unusual method in which to raise funds to open the store–social networking via Indie GoGO. This tool allows donors from anywhere and everywhere to contribute money to a community cause. You click on the link and decide what amount of money you can spare. If y0u are like me-it’s not much, but if thousands of people send 5 bucks, they will reach their goal of $45, 000. Which they MUST do, by July 31 at 11:59 PM. If not, they give the money back to donors who are not anonymous and that’s that.

This was not their first choice of financing. They did have family support, but when a relative was diagnosed with cancer, the money set aside for the bookstore had to be re-routed for medical care. All their research, which was meticulous, and work creating a professional business plan seemed for naught. They are young without substantial assets as of yet, so no loan could be acquired. They thought their dream died a sad death until recognizing a new approach, Crowdfunding. Never heard of it? Neither did I until now. What a stupendous idea for any one with a rock solid business plan and dream! “According to Wikipedia, crowdfunding (alternately crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, or hyper funding) describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.” In other words, if someone puts forth a great idea, and you like and approve that business idea after reading about it online, you can click and donate–feeling that you and bunches of others have lent a hand in the building of a business, which funnily enough, would be true, lol.

So that’s what Jones and Holmes are counting on to get their dream on its feet. New London CT doesn’t have a bookstore. Nada. None. Pathetic, right? They have picked a fantastic location, have ideas galore as to how to utilize the space and stock it, and have even stated what events and special features they would implement. Personally, I already want to make a day trip, or considering distance, an overnight trip, to visit, and it’s not a reality yet.

Authors should be particularly interested in donating to this cause. Every indie added is another chance for an author to sell a book. Indies are known for hand-selling, for giving that mid-list author the push her or she needs to be seen and read and sold. The more indies, the more books sold, the better for the authors, publishers, editors, and readers. Monte Crisco Bookshop is their chosen name, due to the historic building it will be housed. And here are some of the ideas they have for it:

“Our Bookstore Vision

We will be a 3000 square foot location in the historic waterfront district in City of New London, Connecticut open from 10 am until 8 pm,  seven days a week. We will have a website with an event calendar and a shopping cart to purchase physical and e-books online. We will be a mobile application for your smartphone and most e-reader tablets so you can support your local independent bookstore on your electronic device. Last but certainly not least we will be a traveling children’s book fair.


Merchandise

We will stock 40,000+ new books of all genres with larger segments dedicated to art, music, naval history, counterculture, and LGBT. We will hold a special shelf space for local authors. There will be a used book section carefully selected by staff. Our shelves will stock stationery, calendars, magazines, art supplies, and puzzle books. There will be an area for local New London memorabilia and souvenirs. We will carry book related and themed merchandise but not go overboard with it. Books will be our number one item!”

 Sounds great. My only suggestion, besides stocking tons of crime fiction, naturally, lol, is making sure there is a large segment devoted to children’s books and accessories. I’ve been learning from reading about an indie outside of Philly who had been in business for decades almost going down, until the owner made major changes, the biggest being a huge children’s section. He claims it carries the store because parents are not likely to want a digital title for their child to read. Just a thought for Jones and Holmes.
More from them:

“Community Engaged

Jones and Holmes---Duo fighting for a little Indie justice!

Monte Cristo Bookshop will be a real community bookstore with an agenda of promoting literacy through all segments of society. Most local businesses only have reach out programs that are sporadic or seasonal  in nature. At Monte Cristo, our community enhancement programs will be regular ongoing activities as part of day to day doing business. In addition to our work with the schools outlined below we will be providing real jobs downtown and we will operate the store using local contractors, local designers, local banking institutions, and local vendors. We will reach out to area corrections facilities to build an effective book club and discussion program for prisoners. We will reach out to homeless and women’s shelters to provide books to those who cannot even afford the basic necessities. We will reach out to area hospitals and nursing homes to coordinate the operation and maintenance of patient book carts. We will host accomplished authors to come into the schools and speak to the faculty and students. There will be also be a scholarship program with a focus on journalism or creative writing. ”

That’s a pretty ambitious statement, and a wonderful one, but I would think that in the early days of running a store, staying afloat will take most of the time they would need to create these functions, let alone carry them out.

Here’s the word for writers:

“We Love Authors!!!

Events will be the lifeblood of our store and our most significant contribution to the community. In the store location we will have local and  visiting authors. Our challenge will be to host at least 12 authors per month. The author events be a combination of  readings, luncheons, interviews, multi-author panels, discussions and/or book signings. For bigger crowds we will arrange to host events at the larger locally owned venues such as The Garde Arts Center, The Crockerhouse Ballroom, the El’N’Gee Club, Thames Yacht Club, Port and Starboard, and one of many Legion Club Halls. We will coordinate with any local business wishing to host author events. We will be working with the state and local media for promotion of the larger events and assisting to get publicity for the smaller authors themselves.”

 Sounds quite nice–but to get that kind of thing going, you really really do need cash, so let that money pour in, because it will be authors who benefit from their own contributions.

“We Are Passionate Book People

Our staff will be well informed “book people” writing reviews, running events, and offering recommendations. The store, itself,  will be a member of the American Booksellers Association and other trade organizations to keep staff and customers up to date on the latest trends in the publishing world. A monthly newsletter will be distributed highlighting store and publishing news as well as spotlighting new books and new authors.”

and finally:

Customers Come First

“As a retail establishment, we will have a variety of loyalty and frequent shopper programs.  There will be discount specials for book clubs, teachers, and military. There will be a used book buyback and trade program. The store itself will be laid out with recommendations and reviews written by staff, customers, and community members. The most exciting program will be a monthly subscription book club where staff will choose books for customers based on authors they already like.”

If they’ve really done their homework, and I think they have, they know that the attitude they and their staff project will determine almost everything. If they are friendly, helpful without being overbearing, never talk ‘down’ to their potential buyer, get to know them like friends, then Monte Crisco’s will be a welcoming warm spot that people will feel at home and hopefully leave with tons of books in their bags.

OK, all you booklovers, writers, published authors, fellow indie owners, readers, librarians, people who just like contributing to a great cause–click on the link, and donate donate donate. The bookstore you can help create will provide dividends for all.

http://www.indiegogo.com/montecristobookshop

 

To visit their webpage:

http://montecristobookshop.com/?page_id=633

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9 Comments

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  • Are you kidding me? Asking for charity for a business.  How about starting a fund to subside mimes or jugglers or knitters? What about the local hardware store? If it’s going to be a business it MUST be treated as such and not rely on charity for start up and operating funds.

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    • Charity? You consider helping a business to gain a footing as charity? Did you bother to go to the website and read their business plan? And in actuality, historically the arts, such as juggling, mimes etc, WERE subsidized-by what were called, Patrons. So, try to turn your idea of business towards the future, or the historical past, and consider what people will be doing here, is become Patrons for a fledgling community business sorely needed in this particular town. Theatres, even for profit ones, have patrons. Artists, have patrons. I could go on, but perhaps that’s your problem. To you it is just too creative an approach, and creativity is not an ingredient in your idea of a business. I’m sure that if some rich cousin were to throw money into a project it would get your full approval. How that makes it any more legit as a business, and therefore TREATED as such, I’m not sure. Where do you think people who want to create a business get money? They solicit other people to invest. OK, those people hope to gain a profit of some kind. Monetary, yes. Here the difference is, those who invest are gaining a business that will profit them in the long run,  not with dough, perhaps, but with a new solid business that will help anchor a community as well as help authors, publishers, etc etc all of whom PROFIT from a new bookstores selling the printed word. Your mistake is to assume that soliciting money from many without those giving expecting monetary returns is not a legit business practice. Too many successes using this method make your argument weak.

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      • Looking for the like button here.  I wish more people would take the approach Monte Cristo is taking and that more people understood it. 

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      • I’m sure you donated your $5.00 and got a warm fuzzy feeling helping this business get started. But remember a bookstore is a BUSINESS. And like any other business it must turn a profit to stay in business. What happens to the business when the “patrons” stop giving? It fails. With such a wonderful business plan it should be able to get adequate funding through traditional sources. Right?

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        • If you had read the article, you’d realize there is a finite amount of money to be raised, the business does not *run* on donations. It gets starter money, and then they take it from there, like any other business. Your contempt for people wanting to assist in boosting a viable important community business is puzzling. Private money supports all sorts of endeavors–including presidential nominees. If there was ever a waste of money, it would be throwing it at a candidate–where’s the return? An elected official who ‘owes’ you something? I don’t see giving a little help to a business plan as ‘a warm fuzzy feeling.’ I see it has an investment in the survival of independent bookstores. As for traditional sources–what do you suggest they didn’t already try? Maybe they should form a Super Pac. That type of raising money probably appeals to you.

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          •  How little you realize about me before making unsubstantiated comments. I completely agree that political fundraising is totally out of control and super pacs should be illegal. I’m not saying this bookstore wouldn’t be an asset to a community but to be a viable asset it must turn a profit. I’m not suggesting that they didn’t try traditional sources-I’m suggesting that the the traditional sources turned them down because the risk of not receiving an adequate ROI were too great-they are afraid the business will fail. Just because you have a great business plan doesn’t mean your business will be a success. If you want to donate fine but morally and ethically where do you draw the line about which for profit enterprises you donate your money to? What about a local doctor that treats certain patients for free? What about a vet that takes in stray animals? What about local retailers that are being pushed out of business by the big box retailers? Businesses that start taking free money generally become dependent on free money. Has oil and farm subsidies taught us nothing? I grew up on a farm and I’m against farm subsidies. My suggestion is that if they don’t already have adequate traditional funding put their dream off for a year or two and work regular jobs and save everything they can. If this is something they really want that’s not too big a sacrifice.

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          • Saving $45,000 will take much more than a year of work for two people.

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        • hhydlooi, you have an old fashioned sense of capitalism, the kind that gives the concept of business a bad name, the ugly kind that is founded on greed and today in the process of hanging itself with government-subsidized rope.

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          •  gc You have no clue do you?
            I don’t agree with govt subsidies or greed. I believe that if you want to start a business…work hard, save your money, plan, start your business, treat your customers fairly, etc.

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