People tend to respond favorably when I tell them that my friend, who is also my new business partner, and I plan to open a bookstore on the South Shore of Long Island, but once I add that we will also be serving wine and beer their eyes light up. “Genius!” they exclaim.
However, we aren’t the first bookstore to come up with this idea, but many book patrons aren’t aware of that. Some even seem relieved to know that we aren’t going to be “just” a bookstore. After all, aren’t they closing one after the other thanks to Amazon?
TIME TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
Well, my friend, Peggy Zieran, and I aren’t going into this blindly. Both Peggy and I have a combined bookselling experience of thirty five years. Peggy had been the General Manager for Borders Books (remember them?) at one of the Long Island locations for several years while I was Borders’ National Event Coordinator based out of Manhattan for several years booking events in many of our stores across the country. Also being a published author, I had the advantage of knowing both sides of the business. So, when we started reading about independent bookstores finding success we stopped fantasizing about wanting to open a bookstore and decided to see if we could make it a reality.
A BOOKSTORE IN THIS DAY AND AGE
Therefore, we researched, contacted Ingram, since a former Borders employee and friend, Phil Ollila, is now the Chief Content Office there, and asked Phil for some advice. I then dipped my toe in the water, so to speak, to see what general readers thought of our idea and blogged about it for The Huffington Post. The title was “Who Tries to Open a Bookstore in This Day and Age?” I got some kind responses, but, more importantly, someone from the American Booksellers Association saw (ABA) the article and contacted me. Peggy and I were thrilled with the advice they had to offer and we soon became members. We then found out that there was another local organization, New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, (NAIBA) that would be of help and we joined them. We arranged a meeting with Eileen Dengler, the head of NAIBA, to pick her brain. When we first sat down she told us she was there to discourage us, meaning give us a reality check. As it happens, by the time we were finished with the meeting we’d convinced her that we had a strong inkling of what we were in for. Even so, we were starting to get a clearer picture of how much we would need for start-up funds, depending on the square footage of our store. Gulp. So we scheduled a meeting with the director of the Small Business Development Center to see if we were even candidates to getting a loan. But not leaving anything to chance, we decided to explore crowdfunding and soon we were preparing to post a campaign on IndieGoGo. We were encouraged by all the funds that so many businesses managed to raise and figured authors and publishers would want to support an independent bookstore, especially one where there was none.
Since I also do marketing and publicity for authors, I decided to see if I could stir up some media interest in what two women were attempting to bring to Rockville Centre and sent out a press release. As it happens, Patch, a community specific online news outlet, picked up the press release and published our ambitious tale, including the video for our IndieGoGo campaign that had recently gone live. Several hours later I got a message in my Facebook inbox from Dianne Condon who lives in Rockville Centre and was thrilled to see what we were doing and wanted to know if she could be a part of it, especially since she’d been in the book industry for fifteen years. We agreed to meet with her and we now have a third member in this journey.
WE’VE GOT A NAME!
So, the bookstore is named Turn of the Corkscrew, Books & Wine while we are in early negotiations for a space twice the size we were originally considering. There’s much more back story to this, as I’m sure there will be angst and drama as we forge ahead, especially since there are only three days left to raising startup funds and we haven’t come close to what we were hoping. That said, I hope you will stay apprised to see how three determined, entrepreneurial, book savvy women bring a successful bookstore to the South Shore of Long Island. Without a doubt, to be continued…