The dream of opening a bookstore is one shared by many. The smell of the books gathering on the shelves, the ability to help customers who are looking for specific pieces, and the atmosphere that so many bookstores enjoy are all upsides to running this type of business. However, the hard financial reality of actually attempting to open your own bookstore is a bit more daunting than what some people realize at first. Today, we will look at what some of those costs are and some other factors that all potential bookstore business owners should keep in mind as they consider the prospect of opening a bookstore.
To start, we need to look at the startup costs that are associated with opening independent bookstores. These are the costs that one will incur when they are first working to get things up off the ground. They are necessary expenses that are required of anyone who is interested in potentially opening a bookstore for themselves, and they need to be given their due consideration.
The real estate part of the equation for any startup business is a big one. You need a place to put your bookstore, and this means that you must look for commercial real estate to either purchase or rent.
Right now, commercial real estate is at some of the highest prices ever in many markets. That has some would-be business owners pulling back and reconsidering their options at this time.
At first, purchasing used inventory to sell to customers seems like it is always the way to go. Used books are less expensive than new books, and they can potentially yield a higher return on investment in some cases. In fact, according to Sheepbuy.com, the average used book store may sell a book for double what they paid for it:
Used bookstores purchase books, on average, at 50% of what their store would sell them for. This means if a store sells a book for $5 they will buy it for under $2.50. Used books that aren't best sellers but still have some demand are usually purchased for $0.50 to $2 each.
However, you may miss out on a segment of your potential customer base if you only stock used books. The issue is that there are some customers who are exclusively interested in new books. Denying them the opportunity to receive those books means that you miss out on any chance to earn their dollars.
Another problem with only stocking used books is that this may cause your bookstore to gain an unfair reputation as selling less desirable or "junk" books. If that is the case, then it is easy to see why some people may gravitate away from carrying used books, or at least make sure they have some new books in the mix as well.
Operating a physical bookstore business means hiring some additional labor to help you out. From processing transactions at the register to helping customers find the titles that they are looking for, employees can help make the experience of shopping at your bookstore more seamless for guests.
On the downside, labor can be very expensive. For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that a store that pays an employee an annual salary of $35,000 will actually fork over a total of between $43,750 and $49,000 to have that person work for them for the entire year. This is because the bookstore must factor in things like the Social Security taxes and benefits that they offer employees on top of their base salary. Needless to say, labor can get expensive for a bookstore that is struggling to survive at all.
No one will know to come and check out your store at all if you are not marketing it to them. They need to know that it exists and that is the kind of place where they might be interested in purchasing an item or two. Business News Daily keeps it simple and explains:
Local marketing is an essential element of a larger marketing strategy for small businesses, as it can get your brand in front of a broader local audience that is likely to patronize your business in the near future.
Local marketing, when done correctly, can generate the kind of buzz that your bookstore needs in the local community to build up an audience of frequent patrons. However, you must also remember that marketing your bookstore will require some outlay of funds in the beginning. Always anticipate that extra expense on the front end so that you aren't shocked when you see your marketing expenses on a balance sheet somewhere.
You have now heard about some of the potential pitfalls of operating brick-and-mortar, independent bookstores. This wasn't told to you simply to scare you away from the idea. Rather, these ideas were presented because they are genuine concerns that you need to think about before opening your own outlet.
Another option that you have is to open a bookstore that is exclusively online or one that has a brick-and-mortar component on top of the online component. Either way, you will want to at least consider adding an online element to your own bookstore.
Advantages to an online bookstore include:
These are just a few of the reasons why more people are deciding to launch online bookstores instead of going with the traditional brick-and-mortar route that so many have attempted in the past.
The best news for those thinking about opening online independent bookstores is that you are not alone. Here at ChrisLands, we provide support specifically to eCommerce bookstore owners. Our trained professionals will gladly assist you with any questions or concerns that you may have about the process. Additionally, we will work to ensure that your online bookstore is able to stand out from the rest. We always want you to feel that you are properly cared for and that you have a firm understanding of the steps that it will take to get your online bookstore off the ground.
For more information about how to get started, please reach out to us today!