OK, who’s with me? I’m chucking it all and moving to Vermont. That’s right, you heard me Vermont. Spread the word. This is such a good story; a small town in Vermont, St. Johnsbury, population 7,571 as of 2000, is according to David Mehegan of the Boston Globe “offering startup money and a break on rent to a qualified person willing to open a bookstore downtown. The word is out in the book trade, and St. Johnsbury officials say calls are coming in.”
Here’s the story, from of the Globe: “Nestled among wooded hills 175 miles from Boston, off Interstate 91 near the New Hampshire border, St. Johnsbury has a classic New England town center, with brick storefronts and a town green. The retail blend on Railroad Street includes clothing stores, a sporting goods store, a pharmacy, an artisans guild shop, antique shops, banks, and restaurants.
“For 27 years, there had also been Northern Lights Bookshop and Cafe, owned by Caroline DeMaio and Vanna Guldenschuh. Besides books and food, the store sold newspapers, cards, and gifts. Four years ago, an adjoining building was devastated by fire, and Northern Lights was forced to close for four months. When it came back, many customers didn’t.”
Yet, running a quaint bookstore in a small town is not what it may seem, warns Mahegan. “You need a feel for the community. Profit margins are razor-thin at best, and the competition from Internet giants is intense, especially in rural areas where people are accustomed to mail-order shopping. “You’re never going to make as much money as you would in the stock market,” said Rusty Drugan, executive director of New England Booksellers Association. “It has always been the case that people go into bookselling because they have a passion for books.””
I’m ready. It’ll be like an old episode of Newhart or something. To whom do I write? I swear though, if it happens and there’s a beautiful bookstore in town, the minute I hear of a St. Johnsbury resident ordering some pages from Amazon … there’s going to be hell to pay 🙂