Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in a bookstore but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nikki Rhodes-Whaley & Ali King, Owners of Rudolph Girls LLC., located in Westminster, MD, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are an independent bookstore in downtown Westminster, Maryland. We sell books and gifts in our brick-and-mortar store and also do orders through our web store. If you are looking for a particular book and we do not have it in stock, we can special order it for you. We also hold monthly events like book clubs, book fairs, and local author book signings. Our customers are community members, neighbors, teachers, students - anyone who loves books!

Tell us about yourself

We are sisters. Our maiden name is Rudolph, which is where our names come from. We first got the idea to open the bookstore in January 2021 while we were both still teaching full-time. We continued to teach until the end of that school year, but we also spent that time researching, finding a space to rent, putting our business plan together, and securing funds to start the business.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

We see our biggest accomplishment each and every day - it's the fact that this little store is up and running! We had an idea, did the leg work, and opened our store in about 8 months' time.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Since the two of us changed careers from full-time teaching to opening the bookstore, there have been many things that we have had to learn to do for the first time. We are still learning the ins and outs of owning a business, but we have a ton of support in our community.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Find your people. Make connections with other business owners in your community and develop those relationships early on. They will be a wonderful resource for you down the road.
  2. If you aren't already, start shopping local. We found that as soon as we made the decision to open a business in our community, we started shopping locally as much as possible. This has helped us to not only meet other business owners in our town, but now we can encourage our customers to support those businesses, which benefits ALL of us.
  3. Don't give up! You are going to run into roadblocks, but don't let them stop you from chasing your dream.

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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