Recently while at the Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism, I spent a few minutes chatting with a very nice woman at the booth for Small Business Development. I was giving her my 30-second shtick on the traveling bookstore and a business card. She was giving me advice including the need “no matter when you began your business” of developing a business plan. I did think about her advice, honestly I did. I figured perhaps next winter when things slow down in Montana, I would put one together.
And then yesterday while following an online tangent, I happened to come across Craig Walzer who owns a bookstore in Santorini. Not just any ordinary bookstore but a lovely one overlooking the sea shaped by white walls and blue sky. It’s a bookstore that made it on the “Ten Most Beautiful Bookstores” list along with its picturesque terrace. Photos show content people sitting there at tables, under large umbrellas enjoying Greek delicacies served with cool beverages. And of course, shelves upon shelves of books. It is a bookstore that is truly lovely and also a business nightmare because after all, it’s on Santorini which is an island that does get some tourists but then again is somewhat seasonal. And any bookstore is an economic challenge. Craig Walzer hangs in there though and swears they can make a go of it. That is what he said on a TED Talk because I assume when your bookstore makes the Top Ten, you are invited to explain why.
I don’t think Craig Walzer has a business plan. He does have a vision and friends pitching in and a community that supports his idea. These are attributes I am fortunate to have as well. Although St. Rita’s Amazing Traveling Bookstore doesn’t have a view of the Mediterranean, it does have a view of mountains and rivers and small towns and this season – big cities. There isn’t a terrace but St. Rita’s has a table and a few chairs. Sometimes Yvonne sells her delicious bread at the bookstore. Sometimes when the weather is cold, I have a flask.
I am truly inspired by Craig Walzer’s idea and the reality he is fashioning with his bookstore. In its second season, my bookstore is taking shape and perhaps, even without a business plan, I will be asked ten years down the road to tell its story.