Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amy Hall, Founder of Hudson Valley Books for Humanity, located in Ossining, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I opened Hudson Valley Books for Humanity in November 2021 as a way to bring people together through books. We are a pre-loved and new bookstore, event space, and community hub located in the heart of downtown Ossining, NY (1 hour north of New York City). Our customers are primarily residents from the surrounding community, as well as a generous portion of tourists and other visitors from out of the area. My great hope is that anyone who walks through our door immediately sees themself in our books - our new books are curated around social justice, planet-friendly living, and diverse voices - and can afford to take a book of their choice home. (Our pre-loved books generally range from 50 cents to $9, much more for collectible and vintage selections.)
Tell us about yourself
As human rights and sustainability professional, my original concept for this store arose from the question: What can I do with my old books? I wanted to find a way to give my own gently-loved books a new home and not just throw them in the recycling bin. One thing led to another, and I found myself imagining a bookstore as a vehicle to bring people from my community together in ways that they currently weren't interacting with. The comments I receive every single day keep me motivated to stay in business. "This bookstore is exactly what the community needs." "I've been dreaming of a store like this for years." "I moved to this town because of this store." "I never thought I'd walk into a store and immediately feel at home." "I love the vibe." And I could go on.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Frankly, my biggest accomplishment is simply being able to communicate my vision through the curation of our books, the merchandising of the artisan products we carry, and the events we hold. People "get it" right away. There's a clear mission for this business that doesn't need to be written down and displayed. This means I've touched a nerve in this town, and it is simply magical.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I know that if I can just get people to come into my store, they will make a purchase. There are some days when I make only 2 or 3 sales. And others where I make ten times my minimum goal. Being creative with marketing and anticipating what my community will be interested in. These are my biggest challenges. If I can get these things right, the rest falls into place.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your consumer research BEFORE you launch your business and save yourself from some potentially fatal errors. Don't assume you know what people want.
- Don't be afraid to ask people to invest in your business. If it's a good concept, people will show up for you.
- Open your heart and mind to possibility. Don't assume you have all the answers. You never know where your next idea will come from.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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