What You Should Know Before You Try to Open a Bookstore/Café

Do you love books? I love books. Somehow, books and tea (or coffee) seem to just go together. Which is probably why every introverted bibliophile I have ever met has at one point or another uttered something along the lines of “I want to open my own bookstore/coffee house/tea room/café.”

To which respond, “No. You really don’t.”

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here; I just happen to have a pragmatic side. Book lovers–all of us, I’m afraid–have this romanticized idea of a warm and cozy nook that magically takes care of itself while we snuggle in a comfy chair with a hot cuppa and read, read, read to our heart’s content.

In other words, we dream of opening the kind of place where we’d like to hang out.

Thing is, if you’re running the place, you don’t have time to hang out. A wise man once said, “You don’t own a small business: it owns you.” This might be even more true in a specialty business. For example:

  • Your life becomes defined by your customers’ needs. Stayed up until three finishing that book you just couldn’t put down? Tough. Your sign says “Open at 8,” so you’d better be there.
  • What you do becomes more important than who you are. Not a morning person? Have trouble making easy conversation? Dislike being interrupted mid-task? Sorry. You’re the shop-owner: the way people perceive you becomes your brand. You cater to customers … even the unreasonable ones with screaming children.
  • Your romantic daydream will often clash with business reality. You need a business plan going in, but once you’ve started, you do whatever it takes to keep the business alive. Remember, you’ll be going up against big name discounters like Barnes and Noble. That means your cozy farmhouse ambiance might have to give way to polished chrome and brass … and shelves of Dickens and Melville might need to be cleared for more copies of “Fifty Shades of Rainbows.”
  • It’s work. You’ll need to be there before opening each morning to get foodstuffs ready. You’ll be on your feet all day meeting customer needs (or worse, sitting all day because you have no customers!). And you’ll stay long after closing, cleaning up, restocking shelves, and preparing for the next day.

And there’s more: if you’re a literary person, it usually means you prefer to deal in words, not numbers. But running a small business is all about numbers: what you pay out, what you bring in, paying bills, figuring taxes. You’ll also have to deal with legal expenses. Licensing. Insurance. Chargebacks. Theft. Unreliable employees. Hiring and firing.

And all in an industry that has one of the slimmest profit margins of any business.

Are you discouraged yet? No? Well, in that case, you might actually have a chance of making your dream a reality.

But if it all sounds like way more trouble than its worth, well, maybe just brew yourself bit of black oolang, find a cozy corner to curl up with a copy of David Copperfield, and dream about all the books you’ll be able to enjoy by not opening your own café.

Monica’s Payday Cake Recipe

Long time, no post! I’ve been busy dabbling in new hobbies and adventures. Last month I went with a friend who is starting an online business to an ecommerce conference, and it opened my eyes to a whole new world of online possibilities beyond blogging! Continue reading

Chai Tea Latte Recipe

With the cooler weather coming in, few things are more refreshing than a steaming cup of tea. Green tea, black tea, herbal tea, white tea, oolong tea… I like them all! Chai tea is one of my favorites, though chai actually just means tea in many other languages. Chai in the states usually refers to black tea brewed with herbs and spices, which is the recipe I am giving here. Continue reading

Pumpkin Recipe

The first time I made this recipe was over the summer even though pumpkin muffins are associated with autumn. Still, when I saw this recipe I couldn’t resist giving it a try. And I’m glad I did! This recipe is a staple favorite now and I use it to make the flavors of fall year-round.  Continue reading

Need To Boost Your Vitamin B12 Levels? Try These Recipes

Health and nutrition are becoming an important factor is the diets of people across the globe. With this new focus on what we eat and how it affects us comes the realization that there is a nutrient deficiency problem silently affecting many people.

Vitamin B12 is a lesser thought of vitamin that helps to combat mental health problems, fatigue, anemia, and stomach issues. If you become deficient in Vitamin B12, you can lose cognitive function, damage your central nervous system, become fatigued and anemic, and develop depression. Continue reading

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

For the last few weeks I have been on a bit of a cookie kick. I already have most of the stock ingredients like sugar, flour, baking soda, and the like laying around, so I have been doing a bit of experimenting. The recipe that follows was me trying to balance my desire to be healthy with my sweet tooth but the sugar and butter in these cookies aren’t exactly healthy. They’re still delicious though! (No surprises there…) Continue reading

Vegetarian Lasagna Southwestern Style

Recently I met up for lunch with a vegetarian friend of mine. She is health and cost-conscious (successfully so, I might add) so she makes meals at home over the weekend to freeze for the week ahead. She told me about what she made in her last round of cooking and it sounded so awesome that I asked for the recipe to share here.

So I bring you… Vegetarian lasagna, Southwestern style! The beans, corn, cheese, and salsa layered between classic lasagna sheets give this dish a Mexican flavor. Whether you are vegetarian or not it is certainly worth trying. Continue reading

Priority One Clearing Shares Magazines For The Taste Buds

If you are guilty of watching Food Network on a daily basis, you have indeed earned the foodie label. We recently learned the folks at Priority One Clearing Services are fellow foodies too. Although, the Priority One Clearing staff doesn’t need to visit restaurants and attempt to dissect each seasoning nuance. All they have to do is select a food magazine from their subscription options. Continue reading

It’s Been A While…

Finally, I started blogging again. This time around, I created a space which is more like a personal photo blog. Yes, can’t quit taking pictures. How about cooking? Still loves it but can only do food photography occasionally. If you have time, you are most welcome to visit me at Droplets.

Strawberry Bubble Tea And Sweet & Salty Popcorn

Relaxing Sunday afternoon, mostly overcast sky with lucky sunny breaks in between, I revisited Finn Slough, a place not so far away from where I live, a tiny community with distinct looking wooden houses built along a marshy river bank. Every time I go there, I can’t stop imagining how life would be like in the old days when it was still a robust fishing village. The Finnish fishermen may be long gone, but what’s left are the remnants that merged with the landscape to create a unique place. Here are some of the pictures taken.

After a joyful afternoon with some new photos to process, I’d like to have something fun and refreshing as snack. Got a box full of local strawberries the other day. They were so juicy but still a bit tart. I also have some tapioca balls that I wanted to try out. So, I make some strawberry bubble tea, with all natural ingredients, no artificial milk and fruit powder as in a lot of other recipes suggested. Continue reading