Want to open a bookstore? Don’t want it to fail?
I’ll assume both of these are affirmatives since you have come to The Bookshop Blog. In the business world, there are few ways to “ensure” (not quite the right word… you never have sureties in retail) success. The biggest way is to open a franchise, which there are no known franchises based in the U.S. (that I know of) for the used book trade. The other way is a bit simpler…
I asked a question in an article I wrote for The Bookshop Blog a few months ago, “Knowing a company’s trade policy, pricing, and sorting system (things you can figure out just by studying a store for its face value) does not guarantee that you can make it work nearly as well or nearly as quickly. This is where the sense in franchising comes. I know that someone cannot offer Gottwals Books’s value until they have our business model. They cannot understand completely what we do. Hence, why not franchise?”
There’s a boom in franchising, particularly since the worldwide economy has been hurting. People are much more comfortable (and they should be) taking a concept that has proven to work in the past.
Well… Gottwals Books has stepped forward to offer our concept that has taken us to 5 locations in 3 states (and still growing).
The big disadvantage to owning a franchise is that the franchisor has control over your day-to-day operations. They tell you what to do, and you cannot decide to do otherwise (or you’ll lose your franchise rights).
We have decided to license the Gottwals Books business model, systems, and procedures as an all-inclusive package under the name “Walls of Books!” For a fee, you can purchase the rights to this concept along with the consulting, instruction manual, and training necessary to open your own store. While no one wants to ever pay a fee for anything, the cost is much less than a franchise fee and you keep the freedom. Also, we save you the time and expense of poor decision-making that comes from inexperience. We have access to vendors for software, equipment, and supplies. We also are working to provide incredible discounts on the shelving and other build-out materials you need to start your own used bookstore.
This is only applicable in the US, but we welcome feedback from everyone. We have already seen positive results from this endeavor, and we hope to open many new stores in the not-too-distant future.
The big advantage to something like this is that used bookstores have NOT been doing well over the past few years. As I’ve written many times before, most of this is due to the lack of proper policies and procedures, not to mention a lack of managerial skills. With the sales volume we’ve seen, there’s no doubt that our concept should appeal to anyone wanting to open their own shop. If it’s worked for us time and again, there’s little to stop the same financial success for anyone else who wants to try.
Also, consider opening a shop alone. If you are anything like us, it’ll take a couple of years to figure out how to do it properly. This is wasted time. You also hurt your chances with those first customers (if your store isn’t up to par), because many people will write you off. This happened to us… we’re still having people shocked at the transformation of our first store from the time they first came in… often years ago. They saw, they weren’t impressed, so they didn’t come back to spend their money.
If you can start out strong, you keep that repeat business. The bigger advantage is that you set yourself up to turn a profit much earlier than otherwise. Any license fees should easily be restored to your bank account. We are unique because we have seen such aggressive growth over the past years… during an economic downturn.
Find our more at www.wallsofbooks.biz!