With advice from Grace Jasmine’s FabJob Guide to Become a Bookstore Owner and an assist from her two teenage daughters, Nancy Oliver is just one month away from opening Wit and Whimsy, a children’s bookstore in Marblehead, Mass. “I’ve always wanted a bookstore,” says Oliver, who decided to focus on children’s books rather than compete with the community’s 35-year old general bookstore, The Spirit of ’76. Plus her kids lobbied for a store with lots of YA titles.
Oliver and her husband own the 1100-sq.-ft. space, which they had trouble re-renting in this economy after their tenants of 13 years moved out. When her husband asked if Oliver thought the time was right to start a bookstore, she said “yes.” Not that she harbors any illusions about pulling down big pay as a bookseller. She plans to keep her day job as a corporate training consultant, at least for now.
“I’m hoping this is going to work. I haven’t done retail since I was in college,” says Oliver, who is working on a schedule of events geared to specific seasons for the coming year. For now, though, she is concentrating on the holidays and getting the store open in time for the Marblehead Christmas Walk, which begins the first weekend in December. In this seafaring area, Santa will arrive via lobster boat. So far the only hitch is the bookshelves, which won’t be ready until the end of November.
In addition to books, Oliver has already registered to be an official Sticks furniture and accessories retailer. Their whimsical feel, she says, fits in with the store, which will carry the line’s high-end items for kids’ rooms like lamps, growth charts, and mirrors. As for staffing, she’s already enlisted her daughters. Several of their friends have also asked for jobs.
Out on the other coast, The Bookworm Burrow will open in Bellingham, Wash., on November 16, according to the Bellingham Herald, and will focus on picture books, both new and used. The store will be located in the Bellingham Public Market, which owner Natalie Page told the paper is a good fit “because much of the start-up overhead was covered, she could open quickly and it's a community-oriented facility.” The store’s design will cater to its young customers; “I want children to have places to play, look through books and be creative,” she said.