Small Business Profile: Skylight Books
Seeking advice from fellow booksellers, incremental growth and timely communication with creditors are among the plot points in the success story for Skylight Books, a popular leftist-leaning and artsy bookstore in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, says Kerry Slattery, general manager and co-owner.
When it is the perception that many independent bookstores are unable to compete with the giants like Barnes & Nobles (BKS) and Crown Books, the 12-year-old bookstore that champions countercultural subjects and the "more off beat writers and film makers" recently completed the expansion of its store in early August, from a modest 2,000 square feet to 3,100 square feet of selling space.
Slattery describes it as a gradual growth: "We set aside funds for store improvements, but only to grow incrementally, until we needed to absolutely go to the next step."
And then the opportunity came up for a space next door. "At the time, we were feeling overcrowded, and we definitely needed to better display the inventory that we had." In the two weeks since the expansion, the store has increased sales, even though the inventory remained the same, she says.Arts-related books including architecture, film, theatre, graphic novels and a magazine section welcoming the breathing room, easily occupied the new space. The bookstore last year grossed 1.6 million dollars. Without much money in the beginning, "we were very economical about the money that we spent, the amount of staff we hired; we tried to keep it all very simple," says Slattery.
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