An introduction

Hello, Bookshop Blog readers! I am so pleased to share my journey towards opening a bookstore with you. Thanks to Bruce for having me!

My name is Yooree Losordo, and I’m the owner of On the Dot Books in Dorchester, MA. Where exactly is my store? Let’s see…you can find me at the Ashmont Farmers Market on Fridays 3-7pm. I have a virtual “pop-up” store for those who can’t make the farmers market. In September, I will be selling out of Dot2Dot Cafe, which just won Best of Boston’s Best Neighborhood Cafe for Dorchester. A holiday pop-up shop is in the works.

Slowly but surely I am getting there.

I wish I could tell you I’ve dreamed of opening a bookstore since I was a little girl, but that’s not even close to the truth. The truth is, I wasn’t even sure I was going to open a bookstore until May. Here is the timeline:

  • January 1 – I give birth to a beautiful baby girl (my second, I also have a 3.5-year old)
  • Sometime at the end of February – as lovely as my new baby is, being cooped up with a 3-year old and a newborn in the New England polar vortex is starting to drive me crazy
  • Early March – I see a flyer for a free business planning class that concludes with a pitch contest in which seed capital is awarded. I decide immediately that this is my ticket to sanity…or at least my ticket out of the house. I also like free money. Because the class is geared towards the creative economy, I write on the application that I want to open a bookstore. I have no idea how to open a bookstore, but it is the first and only idea that came to me. There are no bookstores in Dorchester, Boston’s largest neighborhood, and it sure would be nice if someone opened one.
  • End of March – I am accepted into the class and start getting out of the house every Thursday night. The weather is also improving and I feel better using the grown-up part of my brain. I start going through the motions of what I would need to do if I really were to open a bookstore.
  • Sometime in April – I feel really excited by the prospect of owning a business that could add so much to my community. My old English major spidey senses feel tingly. Based on how the class is going, I feel like I have a good chance at winning something (there were to be five winners in all – first place, second place, and three runner-ups).
  • End of May – I visit with Carol Chittenden at Eight Cousins. Even in the middle of a family emergency, she talks to me for over an hour and answers all my stupid questions. I attend Book Expo America. Luckily, I am from New York and most of my family still lives there, so BEA is an inexpensive trip for me. All I have at this point: an LLC registered with the state of MA, a logo, a business card. Between Carol and BEA, I learn so much and feel inspired – look at all the kids at BookCon! Who says kids don’t read? – now I feel I must open a bookstore.
  • First half of June – I get to work. I set up all my wholesale accounts, open a bank account and credit card, buy equipment for the farmers market, look for daycare for my baby (sniff, sniff). At the same time, I am preparing my business plan and slide deck for my pitch contest. I am tired and overworked but happily so.
  • June 19 – pitch contest. I am a little underdressed (I’m wearing TOMS knockoffs, the other women are in heels). I get 5 minutes to pitch and don’t finish my presentation. I want to relax but…
  • June 20 – opening day of the market! People actually bought some books! It is exhilarating to make my own money. That night I am so tired, I mumble incoherently in my sleep.

So that is how I kind of accidentally became a bookseller. It’s been about six weeks since On the Dot Books launched, and I am still loving it. If you have any advice at all for this newbie, please share!

 

Facebook Comments

Comment (4)

    Todd Pratum
    November 17, 2014 - 11:35 pm

    I’ve had six physical bookshops, let me know if you need help!

    Alyssa
    November 29, 2014 - 12:00 am

    Such an awesome story! We bought a used bookstore a few years ago and have transformed it significantly. However, while we are strong in the making-people-adore-our-shop arena, we are NOT so strong in the making-more-people-spend-money arena. :/ We may need to get creative because we have to move out of our space by the end of the year. We’ve thought of doing some kiosks or other ‘pop-up’ type stores until we can figure out what to do to be profitable.

    I’d love to hear any advice you get too! And what kind of books do you sell at the farmer’s market? How do you choose titles?

      Todd Pratum
      December 3, 2014 - 8:17 pm

      Send me your web address so I can get an idea what kind of shop you have.

    Jeff Elfont
    January 7, 2015 - 11:33 am

    My advice is as follows:

    1) Know and target your market
    2) Buy selectively
    3) Pay low for your books
    4) Price very competitively

    We opened Swan’s Fine Books almost two years ago and the store has been quite successful. You can read some of the opening comments on bookshopblog.com

    Jeff

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