Sustainability: What would a sustainable future for existing and new community bookstores look like?

Host:  Paul Wright



Defining Sustainability.

  • Living wages, distinct from other retail jobs. Growing the pie to be able to afford this. 
  • This definition has changed. It used to be not having to ask for financial support. Now it’s just being able to have a sound, trusted, predictable budget. 
  • Enhancing customer base, symbiotic relationship with communities. 
  • Community invested in the bookstore, making sure it’s not just the bookstore that wants to stay open.
  • Bring in stakeholders (Community leaders, landlord, customers) have them weigh in on the decision making process, work together. 
  • What can a bookstore control that they don’t?
    • Rent. Owning a space, obviously an astronomical expense. 

Commercial real estate doesn’t follow supply and demand due to various factors  like local tax breaks. Can we as a collective unit spend effort fighting against this? Can we also show real estate brokers the value added to the community by having bookstores there. Evicting bookstores is against their best interest because it makes the neighboring spaces less attractive. 

  • Someone mentioned wanting a coffee shop to vacate an empty space near them, how do we work with other retailers and landlords effectively. 
  • Community land trust?
  • Crowdfunding, gofundme’s show that people want to live near bookstores and are willing to donate to them. Obviously not sustainable, is there a sustainable version of this though?
    • Subscription or membership model. Requiring a financial commitment from customers. 
  • Co-operative
    • Community buy-out, more than 900 owners 
    • Hard to mobilize owners, not regularly giving them money 
    • Motivate people to think about what it means to be a bookstore in a community as a way to keep stakeholders regularly engaged/donating/buying and not only when there is impending doom
      • Book Drives to motivate people into engaging/feeling virtuous, asking for little things that aren’t for you

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