Small Business: The Complete Do-It-Yourself Topics Bookstore

The Boot Straps column shares success stories of people who open small business ventures. The How-To-Do-It Book Shop is a complete do-it-yourself topics bookstore containing books on every help topic you can imagine.


| June/July 1997



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Packed with thousands of books on almost every imaginable topic, all the books share one thing—they explain, instruct, describe, demonstrate, and detail.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

The Boot Straps column shares success stories in barters and small business ventures. The How-To-Do-It Book Shop is a complete do-it-yourself topics bookstore stocking books on all sorts of help topics. 

When Bob Wiley was interviewed by a French television station about 10 years ago, he didn't think anything of it. But within the next year, two people who had seen the broadcast traveled separately from France to Philadelphia and visited his unique How-To-Do-It Book Shop. Packed with thousands of books on almost every imaginable topic, all the books share one thing—they explain, instruct, describe, demonstrate, and detail. Their do-it-yourself topics bookstore reveals just how to do almost anything you might want to do.

Celebrating the store's 30th year this November, owners Wiley and Steve Maurer are making it easier for "do-it-yourself" types to get in touch with valuable resources. Thanks to a recent mail order catalog, readers need not travel from France to center city Philadelphia when they can wait for a package of books to arrive at their rural route or P.O. Box.

Founded in 1967 by Betty and Herb Shugar, the store has long recognized an important market. Betty herself was an original "do-if-yourselfer" and could never find the information she wanted. Today, the store's core group of customers are people in their 40s and 50s who have a situation—whether it be a relationship or a roof—and need to deal with it, Maurer says. They are beyond the question of why; they need a how-to explanation.

"We have a saying that if we can sell somebody The New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual (Reader's Digest), we have them for life," Maurer says. "When somebody realizes they can fix a drain, they can handle life."

Books range from general topics like home repair to more specialized areas, like earthworm farming. "We have books on subjects I didn't even know existed," Maurer says. Customers teach Maurer and Wiley about up and coming topics so when the how-to books hit the market, they know what to buy.





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