A real page turner.

pattylindamargotBooks are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.  ~Charles W. Eliot

Last week I visited {pages} a bookstore. It wasn’t my first time in the store; I have been drawn into this bookstore several times since it opened.  Each time I visit I am impressed by the selection of books and the helpful staff.  On this visit, I came to interview the owners.  I was fascinated that three women, all parents of children ranging in age from 10-18, came together to open a neighborhood bookstore: a concept that might seem a bit counterintuitive given the trend of readers purchasing Kindles, iPads and Nooks.  But, these three savvy moms had a vision to offer something more to the neighborhood than any electronic gizmo could possibly offer.  {Pages} is more than a bookstore: it is a place for book clubs to meet, for kids to gather round and hear a story, for authors to appear and sign books…it also a place for panel discussions on relevant topics (I already attended one on social networking).  {Pages} isn’t just a retail store; it is an establishment that enriches the community.

“How do three moms go from play-dates and carpooling to owning a bookstore together?”, I ask Margot, Patty and Linda.   They agree it was destiny.  When I dig a little deeper, I learn that Patty and Linda, who met because their husbands worked together, have been friends for over 14 years.  Both women enjoyed reading and they even started up a book club all those years ago.  At some point in the last couple years, they discussed opening up a bookstore, they got serious enough to attend a weeklong conference in Florida that covered every aspect of opening a bookstore. However, after some initial research, based on rents and the condition of the economy, both Patty and Linda agreed that a bookstore didn’t make financial sense at that time.

Over a year later, Margot, who talked to Patty years ago about opening a book store, heard that Patty and Linda were getting more serious about following through with their plan.  She contacted the two women- to discuss becoming a third partner.  Within three weeks of the women connecting, they had identified a space and began to negotiate a lease.  This time, the stars aligned. Given the tough economic environment, there were several vacancies in the area.  The landlord they approached embraced the idea of a bookstore- seeing how it would be an asset to the community and was willing to work with these ambitious moms to bring their dream to life.

As we spoke, I realized that each of these inspirational moms contributes something special to the trio to make {pages} a formula for success:  Patty heads up buying, Linda oversees the finances and balance sheet, Margot works on special events and reaching out to the community.  At the same time, they each delve into each other’s area of responsibility which makes for a well-balanced team.  The strength and knowledge of these three women together made me realize how important a support network is in achieving any goal.  Their unconditional confidence in one another was obvious throughout our interview.

I don’t like to do an interview without touching on the sacrifices made by my interviewees to reach their goal.   For many of you reading this blog, thinking about your own goals, you must understand that sacrifice is an integral part of getting from A to B.  Margot, Linda and Patty all agree- sacrifices were made (and are still being made every day) to get their business open and keep it running smoothly. Linda had to temporarily let go of her commitment to family dinner 5 nights a week (that means everyone around the table at one time).  Margot gave up her exercise routine for months (she is happily back on track).   Patty had to make concessions to her family realizing she couldn’t always be there to pick-up and drop off the kids at school and practices.  The sacrifices continue, as these moms make choices every day on how to spend their time. Of course, the sacrifices are offset by satisfaction:  the sense of accomplishment that these moms derive from seeing a dream through to reality.

One last thing we touched on before we all had to dash off in our different directions: the unforeseen challenges and rewards of running a business.  One of their recent shining moments was when a young adult stopped into the store hoping to catch the children’s story-time.  Unfortunately, at the time she stopped in, there was no story hour.  Linda took a leap of faith and called the author of Brodie & The Yeti, Dennis Komick, who is a local South Bay resident.  Dennis agreed to come over and arrived at {pages} shortly after the phone call.  He sat with this young lady, read his book to her and even gave her a signed copy.  The owners were incredibly touched by Dennis’s willingness to show up for this young lady and they were teary-eyed at the happiness of the girl.

Some challenges that have arrived for Margot, Patty and Linda: all the small things.  We all got a chuckle when we discussed how the little details emerge once the business is underway (to late to turn around and run).  For example, procedures for opening and closing the register, creating special-order forms, parking for employees and who is working the holiday hours are just a few details that cropped up at the last minute.  Thankfully, the women had the foresight to hire a couple of experienced retailers (Scott Becker from Magpie and Cherish Barrett from Toy Jungle) who guided them through the “retail details” and continue to help make {pages} a success.

{Pages} has been open since March 2010 and the kinks have been worked out.   I started this story with a quote- it seemed like an appropriate metaphor for my story.  The three inspirational moms who opened {pages}- a bookstore- have built a friendship, a community and a bond with one another.

Visit {Pages} website to see what they have going on:  http://www.pagesabookstore.com/index.html

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