Employment, however, seems to be the wall he can't hurdle. He applies but is rarely given the chance to even interview. When he was turned down for the third time for a part-time position at Barnes & Noble this past January, I decided it was time St. George, Utah had an independent bookstore of its own, selling all new books and offering a full slate of events. A bookstore with a heart for those on the autistic spectrum (as well as other disabilities). A bookstore that would give Jason a job and train him to take over one day should he so choose. And it's a natural fit for him--he's always loved books and even taught himself to read by age three.
You may think indie bookstores are dying, but it's just not so. A bookstore can be a profitable business if done right. Between 2009 and 2015 when so many other small businesses were going under, the number of independent bookstores rose--so much so that a Harvard professor set out to study the anomaly to find out what they were doing differently. In short, he found that truly successful bookstore (some of which pull in millions each year) all engaged in what he called "the 3 Cs--Community, Convening, and Curation." That's what we're going to do with our bookstore.
At the end of this month, The Book Bungalow will open, and a Grand Opening is slated for mid-October. We're reaching out to the community, gathering a carefully curated collection of books, and filling up the calendar with events (check us out on our website).
In fact, thanks to Affogato Coffee Shop, we've already had our first author event--featuring "Chasing Portraits" by Elizabeth Rynecki--just this past week before we'd even opened, and we sold 19 of the 24 books sent by Penguin Random House.
The bookcases are now all in and we have just ordered our opening inventory (pared down a bit), so our coffers are pretty bare. We certainly don't have enough to pay Jason a salary, or anyone else, for that matter.
Here's where you can help.
Please consider helping us raise $10,000 by September 24th to provide a cushion in terms of filling out our inventory ($5,000) and getting the store up and running (another $5,000) through the first month or so (we already have an author visit scheduled with a local school in mid-October, as well as a separate author signing for the Grand Opening, so we need to order additional books as soon as possible).
Beyond that, we'd love to raise $40,000 more by October 10th to pay Jason and another, more experienced part-time employee during this first year that we're open. That will give me the breathing room to attend the fall and spring conferences that are so essential to networking with the publishing world and staying on top of coming titles and debut authors. (And eventually I'll take Jason to those same conferences so he can learn from the experts.)
So we're hoping for a total of $50,000 by October 10th.
If you have a grown child or relative with autism or know someone who does, you are no doubt aware that they don't get nearly the kinds of services the younger kids do. If you can give anything at all, I'll thank you, Jason will thank you, and the communities of St. George, Washington, Santa Clara, and Ivins here in Southern Utah will thrive all the more with a bookstore that brings readers and writers together and welcomes everyone.
Please help build a bridge for Jason to his future.
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