3 Years, 3 Stores


Well, Gottwals Books has been open almost 3 years.  We started with almost zero knowledge of opening a book store.  We had roughly 7500 titles in stock, and half of our shelving was bought at the department store.  We didn’t know how to accept trades, so we didn’t do it at all.  We had the walls covered with old framed images and our shelves had miniature gnomes, all hoping to be sold.
To anyone who has ever been inside a used bookstore, we must have looked a bit puny.  We had 1500 square feet of space, but our inventory only covered half of it.  A smaller space might have looked packed, but our space looked lean.
One year later, after the nail salon next door vacated (by God’s grace), we tore into the wall.  Our space became 2700 square feet and would eventually hold 50000 books.
One year after that, we got the keys to a brand new store.  Our Byron location is nearly 3600 square feet and has been successful since the beginning.  No room to expand anymore at the two locations, but I think we’re comfortable with our current sizes.

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When is it a Good Time to Expand Your Bookstore?

We have another new contributor here at The Bookshop blog. I’m pleased to welcome Shane Gottwalls to our group of writers. Here is his first introductory post.

Is it time to expand?

Gottwals Books has been open for nearly 2 years. My wife and I started this venture after realizing that a business degree and an English degree work well together for sorting and selling used books. The passion was there, my retail management background surely helped, and the finances were working at the time.

Our shop opened with what seemed like quite a load of books. We started off fairly successfully with an opening day that promised great things. As time passed and the initial shock of a nice-looking used bookstore (in an area in sore need) went away, the sales remained consistent, yet stagnant.


Since that era of low sales (we actually had one day where we sold $4… total!), our business has increased month by month. One way that the Lord has blessed us is in the fact that the store has always paid for itself… even in the slow days. We never went into the red, although our personal finances weren’t great for quite some time.

Recently, an opportunity opened up in an older, long-established shopping center about twenty minutes from our current location. There have been two or three successful stores in the center (they closed for personal and chain-wide reasons), and the people of Byron, GA are ready for another place to buy quality used books.

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