By Sharon Daugherty
My first job was in a bookstore. Although I was only sixteen, that job inspired me to one day open a bookstore of my own. I grew up, got married, and had my children. My husband and I lived in a state pretty far away from most of our family, and with the rising cost of childcare for two girls, decided it would be more economical and better for our girls if I stayed at home.
I loved being with my girls, but I grew desperate for a way to feel productive and accomplished. I began researching business ideas for stay at home moms, and I discovered a book publishing company that establishes people in business. Instantly, I was taken back to those wonderful days in the bookstore, the only job I ever loved. I signed on, and began my business!
I offer my customers books through mail order or telephone from a full color catalogue, cash and carry sales at school book fairs, and other children’s reading events.
At first, my customers were parents in my community, friends, family, and former coworkers. Then, while watching a news story about a local grocery store where people can purchase food for donation to local homeless shelters, I had an idea. “Why not start a children’s book donation program?” And the Book for Every Child program was born.
Now, in addition to my sales to parents, daycare providers, home schooling parents, and libraries, each month, I select a children’s service organization to which I give a gift of books purchased with donations from the public. Many of my contributors like to select the book(s) they will donate; it makes them feel like they have done even more for the kids.
When I present these books, it is an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. I have been able to present some smaller, struggling groups, such as shelters for abused children, with 50 new books or more. That’s like a library to them.
The biggest challenge of the regular sales and the donation program is marketing. Like any business, you have to constantly be on the lookout for new ways to advertise, and new markets to tap into. But that takes creativity, which makes things more enjoyable.
I now offer a secure online bookstore for my customers, and I have a page on my site, www.mybooklady.com, with tips to stimulate the joy of reading in children, and links to some of my favorite learning sites on the web. My next goal is establishing a toll-free number for orders and questions.
A teacher, a librarian, and a bookstore owner. These are the things that I wanted to be when I grew up. Add my business to my beautiful family, and I can really say that my dreams have come true. But the best thing is, I’m helping my kids and many other kids discover the joys of reading.