Help OTBP Survive & Thrive!
The bookstore is an integral part of the community. We are big supporters of local authors, creators and talent We host readings, signings, and concerts to promote their works. Our patrons enjoy a variety of educational and entertaining programming ranging from the annual Hogwarts's Feast, weekly craft nights and seminars on leather making to name a few.
Our reach stretches beyond the bookstore as well, as we try to create a presence in our area. One such event we sponsor is an annual Food Truck Rally in downtown Farmington, Michigan. This event benefits a number of local non-profits, that in the course of two years has grown from 200 to 2,000 patrons. Our efforts have been noticed by the community, garnering us an award from Oakland County in 2014 for Aggressive Business Participation in the community.
(Another cool fact is that out of the 2,000 independently owned bookstores in the country, there are only 52 black-owned stores. Of that 52, I have the only genre store (fantasy/Science Fiction/Steampunk) on the list. )
So why am I doing this campaign already, right? As many of you know the winter of 2013 was just terrible. A number of businesses (and bookstores in particular) didn't survive it and we were almost one of them. Instead of going into 2014 with a bit of cushioning, we went in at a deficit and have been playing catch up for the whole year. There have been times where I have had to choose between buying books for the store or paying utilities.
The reason I finally decided to do a campaign like this is within the last month I had a couple of major setbacks. The first was a concert with a British performer I was bringing over. Because of issues with his visa that none of us forsaw, He was denied entry to the United States and sent back to England while I was waiting to pick him up from the airport. All of the ticket money was refunded, but there were expenses, deposits, and airfare that had to be paid and I had to eat the cost.
After that I went to a lovely con in Texas thinking I could recoup some of my losses, but although Texas is huge, this con was not. I had some sales, but basically lost my shirt. Simply put, this was a financial one-two punch that blasted me in what should have been the most lucrative time of the year.
Things are looking pretty grim and if I don't get help after 4 years of business this might be my last winter.
The reason I am asking the amount that I am asking is because I don't just want the store to survive, I want it to thrive. If I asked for a few thousand it would get me out of the immediate situation, but a similar one would just creep up down the road. People say just get a loan, but as a black woman that owns a bookstore that caters to alternative genres, Banks just don't get me and aren't inclined to risk a loan on a bookstore. I'm nowhere near too big to fail.
Why don't I just give up and go work for someone else? Because this is absolutely my dream. I have wanted to own a bookstore since the first time I saw the one in "The Neverending Story". There is something so magical about pairing people up with good books. Books can literally change your life and I have seen the joy they can bring and I love being someone who faciliates that.
Also, every town needs a quirky bookstore in my humble opinion. It brings people in to the downtown and adds to the sense of community as well as being a place where people can go to find out about events, workshops, and just hang out with other like-minded people.
Also, I like being a part of the legacy of being a black bookstore owner. Black people have fought so hard historically just for the right to read, it makes me feel as if I'm doing my part to keep access to all kinds of books open to our community.
This bookstore is my legacy to my children. I have a young daughter who loves helping in my store and I want her to learn that dreams are attainable. I feel that my existence as a small business owner is vital as an example to my generation and those that follow.
Finally, I love being a woman in what is typically a male dominated area (gamergate anyone?). I can hold my own and geek out with the best of them. I can't tell you how many ladies have told me how refreshing it is to see a woman owning a store like this. Simply put, I'm the unicorn our industry needs, if not the one it deserves. (I'm not being pretentious, that's a Batman quote)
What am I going to do with the money? Glad you asked. Some of the things include:
* Investing in new stock for the bookstore and also bring in the sidelines that people like to pick up. We will have a greater selection of new bestsellers as well as our genre books.
*Catch up on the deficit the above mentioned challenges created.
* Adding new fixtures to the store to make it a destination stop. We will expand the cafe area and add some seating,
* Bringing more new and established authors into town for readings and signings.
This campaign is probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I'm a problem solver and I have a hard time asking for help, but I am also willing to fight for my dream. You can donate any amount, but there are different levels of rewards I am happy to send you for your support of the store.
Wow. Sorry, that was a lot. A friend is making a cool video for me that I will upload later, but I needed to get this ball rolling. Thank you again for just reading this long thing. Please share it with your friends and family and thank you again for taking time to support Off the Beaten Path Books.
I also am able to show you the exclusive one-of-a-kind artwork we are using on the t-shirts and the tote bags. The design was created for us by Davis Lacina (Thank you again, Sir!) and is only available through this campaign. So you will literally be wearing your support on your back. Thank you all again and please keep spreading the word. We are off to a good start, but still have a ways to go.