Establishing a Used Book Store

Gary Crooker started a used book store business with just a few thousand dollars and a love of literature. Here's how.

| August/September 1994

Do you find yourself lingering just that few extra minutes in book shops or libraries, with a faraway look in your eyes, long after everyone else is ready to go? Do the people you are with seem to have to drag you away after you have promised to stay in your favorite book haunt just "five minutes more?" Do you always seem to gravitate toward the table of books at yard sales and flea markets?

If the answer to any or all of these questions is yes, then maybe the business for you is the one I explored and fell in love with two years ago: owning and operating your own used book store.

Why a used book store? Because you can get into the business relatively easily and stock the type of literature that you and many of your customers love without being a slave to current best-seller lists. And in the used-book business you can get started without the large outlays of cash that are usually associated with the beginning phases of a retail operation. I did it on a startup loan of just $3,000.

Now instead of feeling guilty about hanging around book sales and stores, I can do it to my heart's content, secure in the knowledge that I am not languishing but working. I'm not sure that all of my friends and relatives are convinced of it yet, but as my business shows its (albeit modest) profits, they are beginning to see the wisdom of it all.

If you have a love of books and know the difference between Thomas Wolfe, Tom Wolfe, and Virginia Woolf, then take a minute and I'll tell you how simple it is to build a business that you'll leap out of bed to come to.

Planning and Stocking

First of all you will have to accumulate a stock of books. But before you go off buying every used book in sight, give some thought to what it is you want to sell. If you make your offering too broad or too narrow you will end up satisfying no one.

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