Two years after Jeff Krauth and Diana Krauth put Beyond Words Bookshop in Northampton, Mass., on the market, they found a buyer—themselves. "We're going to carry on," Jeff Krauth told PW. Originally the couple had planned to change careers in midlife, but when several offers fell through, including one from a collective of current and former employees, the Krauths decided to rededicate themselves to bookselling.
"We talked about liquidating and we looked into other work," said Krauth, "but we didn't see anything that was as appealing to us as bookselling. We know how good our store is, and we really know how the community values it. We thought, 'How can we walk away?' "
To make the store work in today's changed economic climate, the Krauths decided to cut back from 4,000 square feet of space to 2,100, the size it was before it added a cafe. They have just completed moving everything to the store's ground-floor selling space and are about to sign tenants for the second and third floors. "We own the building," said Krauth. "We think a more profitable model for us is to have space that is more packed with creative displays."
The reduction in size has enabled the Krauths to lower their mortgage payments for Beyond Words by renting the other two floors. Through attrition they have cut their staff in half, which also helped lower costs. During the years when the store was for sale, the Krauths to put a number of projects on hold, including a Web site, which they plan to launch through BookSense.com later this fall.
"There's a tendency in the culture to get bigger. I've learned that that's misleading in many circumstances," said Krauth, who views Beyond Word's scaled-back selling space as an opportunity "to position the store for the future."