A small indie bookshop with used books and locally-made gifts with a literary theme.
Describe your shop for us.
We are running a family-owned small bookstore. Back in July of 2015 we started with used books which we made affordable for everyone (all paperbacks are $3.50 and all hardbacks are $5.50, which includes sales tax). In 2016 we started to add new products besides books. Most of the sideline products are book-related, such as bookmarks, bookweights, literary-themed teas, literary-themed action figures, etc., but also some souvenirs and accessories. Most of our products are produced locally in Staunton, Virginia, by creators such as Tiny Hygge and Faces from History.
What made you decide to open a shop?
We live close to downtown and would pass the empty space on the main street of our town. We thought it might be a great space for a retail project. We tried to organize an indoor farmers market but after two months of trying we still hadn’t pulled it all together. Realizing we were about to pay another month’s rent for an unopened shop we asked ourselves, “What can we open quickly?” We’re a family of book lovers so we started with our own collection and have been successfully expanding ever since.
What kind of locally-made products do you carry?
Bookmarks, bookweights, cup cozies, literary action figures, gums, bandaids, literary teas, greeting cards and postcards..
How do you find your suppliers?
We do searches on the web. We also visit local craft shows and will ask a creator we like if they offer wholesale. Sometimes creators will stop in the shop and introduce themselves.
What items have you carried that do very well?
Greeting cards and handmade bookmarks.
And what have you tried carrying that did not do so well and why?
Literary-themed tea - it was too expensive for our low-priced bookshop theme.
What advice do you have for creators wanting to sell products to retailers?
Have an active online presence, and don’t be afraid to drop into a shop and introduce yourself and your products.
What advice do you have for other retailers who want to carry locally-made products?
Start with a small order to test the product’s appeal to your particular audience, then drop lines that aren’t working and expand the ones that are.