How difficult is it to find a bookcase?!

With forced rest thrust upon me by my competitive nature, and with ‘Touch of Silk’ being stuck at 45,600 words, I decided now would be the best time to make a start on the business plan for my bookshop. Oh how I laugh at myself sometimes…

It’s been ten years since I went to college and completed my course – which while it had a business element to it was equine related. (Horse Management – Equine Business Management) This is never more evident than when I open up an Excel spreadsheet and attempt to put numbers into it.

I wasn’t doing too badly. I’ve found the shop that I want, at a modest rent, I know the average business rate for the area, and I have a list of stock items that I want to buy. But then my husband pointed out – what am I storing these books on? Oh yes… Bookshelves… They might be necessary. So the pricing up of my start-up costs began. And ended.

Of course I could go to a local DIY store, but surely it would make more sense to get all of my retail supplies and fixtures from one place? You’d think… But no. I cannot find a single B2B supplier that provides good, solid bookcases. Cheap, crappy, MDF ones that I could buy cheaper from B&Q – yes. Proper wooden ones? No. And as much as I would like to have them, I cannot afford £500 for a bookcase from the Old Creamery.

And so opening a bookshop comes to a standstill. Again.

One day I will get there. Just not today.

What does it take to open a bookshop?

I have been self-employed for nearly 5 years as a freelance writer. Unfortunately it doesn’t bring in enough to support a family, and while my husband does work full-time, he would like to pursue a career as a self-employed photographer. Our son is due to start school in September, and so the subject of me going back to work has cropped up a number of times. But, I don’t like the idea of going to work for someone else so have been looking at other options. One of these options includes opening my own bookshop.

Now this is where all my Indie friends decide they hate me. You know that person who only buys books from Amazon, WH Smiths, Waterstones or eBay, charity shops and carboot sales? Yeah… That’s me… Sorry!! However, I do know that Indie bookshops in my area are few and far between, and most of those that are around only sell second-hand, antique, or Christian related books. So getting my brand new contemporary romance in there, well… It ain’t happening. There are a few nearby, but you’re talking 5 miles and a drive to find them. (I know 5 miles doesn’t sound all that far, but when you live in the back end of beyond…) All of this is why I ask the question: “What does it take to open a bookshop in the UK?”

I know the basics of self-employment and running your own business thanks to a college course in business management, and having spent the past 5 years filling in self-employment forms, sorting out tax, and dealing with HMRC. But what about the cost of running a bookshop? That’s where I come unstuck. I have no funds that I am able to risk, which is a big part of starting a new business. Risk. Will it work? Won’t it? And that’s where the next list of questions come from.

I am hopeless at sales. I couldn’t sell toffee to children. There is a reason I only lasted a few days in a sales office before being moved to customer services. I am crap. When it comes to retail sales, I’m fine, but selling myself to the public, or a business idea to a bank manager… Nah. Thankfully I have a husband who is good at sales so I suppose I could use him… I digress.

Time. Do I have time? Yes and no. I’m a busy Mum, with children who do afterschool clubs, and I volunteer for the local Rainbows group as part of the Girl Guiding Association. But during the day I’m free. Almost. Plus, if I was in a bookshop with access to a laptop then at least I can write during the quiet periods. That’s the theory anyway.

Looks like I already know the basics of what is required. So I guess the true question is: “Where do I find the funds from?!”