Shop Around the Corner
It’s tough to write an interesting post about starting a bookstore. Sure, the idea of starting a bookstore sounds great, right? But actually getting started is kind of boring, and so is writing about it. So here you go:
I told you about Miri’s desire to open a bookstore here. Firstly, that’s pretty forward of him. People around here don’t necessarily read a whole lot. There are other things to do, like housework and standing around eating sunflower seeds. He’s fully aware of the fact that he may not really sell all that many books. Second, he’s proposing a bookstore that is vastly different from the bookstores you might find here. Think of a bookstore more like a school & office supply store, where the store is pretty cramped, there’s no place to sit, and you don’t really go there for books.
Instead, Miri’s got an idea that’s much more in line with what you might encounter in a late 1800’s French salon. He’s interested in Victorian-style furniture, classical lighting and decor, and coffee tables. He’s thinking he’ll sell tea and coffee and baked goods and sweets. And of course, books. He’s explained that he wants it to be a place where people can come to sit and read, or browse for books, or have long discussions. There would even be room for english conversation and movie clubs. These ideas are the fun part.
The less fun part is when you actually get started and have to think about making decisions. Today we started looking in earnest for a place to put this hypothetical avant garde salon. And truly, in Azerbaijan, it would be avant garde. We met up with a relative of his, Elşən, at the Chicago Kafe to start talking about locations. Miri and I and a few others have already scouted two places that would be perfect, except they would require extensive repairs. Elşən, however, seems to know a lot of places that would be open. He started off with a list of six. Yesterday we checked out one place, next to the Chicago Kafe, that would have been great except for the location. The rooms were good, lighting was good, and owner was good. But the location was destined for failure. Today, we went on a real hunt, scouting out four different places, three with good locations. One of them was a second-floor place that had 3 big rooms, big windows, and was in the center of town. It was well-lit, could easily be remade into a cozy bookshop, and location was good. The only problem is that it costs 500 AZN per month to rent, which is a lot. It’s tough to find that kind of money around here, especially for a bookstore. People around here don’t seem to think too highly of a bookstore as a real business venture.
There were a few other places we checked out, but none that we’re quite as nice as our 500 AZN penthouse. It’s okay though, since we’ve got other things to worry about too: money, supplies, furniture, and….oh yeah, how to start a business in Azerbaijan.