I loved this story of two inspired women Emily and Danielle, wanting to create a connection in their community. Everyone must get their passions from somewhere, and in this case, it’s books. In my opinion, a healthy self-care practice is reading a book, and these ladies make the process easy in picking out books and delivering them to you. This is an ingenious solution, especially during the pandemic when most stores are closed.
How and when did you discover your love for books? What made you decide to start a web bookstore out of Durham?
The two of us met in college, and we became close friends quickly. When we discovered that we both had a love for books and reading, we started going to thrift stores regularly to find books to read together. We basically started a book club for two. Over a year later, we are still reading in sync. We quickly learned that reading and buying books were two separate hobbies. While we read regularly and plan to read everything we buy (eventually!), we love bookstore hopping through Durham to find books on our TBR (to be read) list.
Once we started finding popular books in perfect condition that we already had in our collections, we decided they were too good to pass up and knew someone else would appreciate the exciting find. That’s where we came up with the idea to start an online thrift store for lightly loved books. Shortly after that, we created the website, did lots of thrifting to build our inventory, and now we’re sharing our amazing book finds with book lovers like us across Durham.
What is your favorite thing about being a business owner?
Being business owners in the reading community is fun because we can talk to new people about books, books, and more books! And trust us, we can talk about books endlessly. It’s so worth it when you get the chance to work on something you really love and care about.
Running a small business also allows us to show off our strengths while sharing the responsibilities. While we both love the thrifting part, obviously, Emily likes the digital creative elements like designing the website, taking pretty product photos and creating the advertising, while Danielle likes more of the business aspects such as creating promotions, new products and ideas, financial planning and major problem solving. It also gives us the chance to try out new skills or ideas since the two of us are doing all the work needed from start to finish.
Do you personally know most of your clients or is there a larger target audience larger than Durham?
We have had lots of support from friends and family with book donations and sharing our brand, but most of the business we’ve received so far has come from readers who find us on Instagram. The book community is huge but very welcoming. While we don’t personally know most of our customers, we have made some great connections within the book community across Canada.
In fact, we have been fortunate enough to partner with several bookstagramers to create awareness for our brand through shoutouts and even giveaway contests. We’re lucky to be able to reach out to so many people within the Durham Region who love books and reading as much as we do across several different platforms such as “bookstagram”, “booktok” and “booktube”. We look forward to potentially expanding our audience even further across Canada, hopefully in the future.
Any new launches planned for 2021?
There are a few new ideas we are considering expanding into this year. To help us with our deliveries and for our customers to purchase, we plan on selling beautifully designed book tote bags in collaboration with Prints by Shelby. They may also be customizable so readers can put their favourite book quote, design, or their own names on them!
We have also had tons of people show interest in purchasing mystery books or “blind date with a book” items. This would allow readers to purchase a book at a flat rate without knowing the title, only a vague description or genre listed. Finally, we have also had a few inquiries about providing shipping, so we are doing our research to consider offering shipping across Ontario. We are super excited for everything we have planned for this year and can’t wait to see how we grow as a small business.
What is a significant challenge you have faced as an entrepreneur and how did you rise above it?
No surprise here, but the pandemic’s lockdowns were difficult for our business since all used bookstores were closed, restricting us from collecting new inventory. People were eager to shop for books for their time off with everyone staying inside, but we couldn’t give them new books regularly. This forced us to get creative, so we decided that finding book donations was the best way to obtain new inventory.
We used the pandemic to our advantage instead and found that since people were stuck inside, they were doing a lot of cleaning and need a place to get rid of items since thrift stores were closed. We decided to take advantage and offer to pick up books for free right from your porch, and to benefit you as much as us; we now provide 30% of those donation book sales back to you! We have gotten tons of donations and have helped people earn something back on books they might not be able to sell on their own.
It’s clear these ladies have put much effort into this business right down to aesthetic packaging, and I am hopeful they will continue to grow. They take the hassle out of trying to find books at a reasonable delivery cost. Many people that work all day don’t have the time or energy to keep going out and looking for good books to read; that explains why many simply turn on the TV or watch videos on their smartphones. But the Thrifty Readers spark adventure and a chance to learn something more outside the office for many people. Reading is essential and now there’s no excuse to adopt reading at your own pace at home; it helps pass the time, and you learn so much when you read that you don’t get anywhere else.
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Author: Kayla Stephens, Content Writer, Toronto, Canada. If you have any stories or comments, kindly email: – [email protected]