The Recession has Driven this Bookseller to Drink
Books & Brews, which just opened last week, is the work of Jason Wuerfel. Jason has always wanted to open a bookstore, but with a tight economy and businesses failing left and right he knew that the odds were stacked against him. But then a few years ago he hit on a novel sideline which just might help his bookstore succeed:
Beer. "The bookstore was always the dream," said Wuerfel. "And then, when the market collapsed, there was no viability in a bookstore. How do you make your margins in order to survive?"
His solution is to open a bookstore which, if you added up the square footage, is far more bar than bookstore.
Wuerfel got the idea a few years ago when a friend told him about The Spotty Dog Books & Ale, a similarly themed bookstore in Hudson, NY that sells both new books and a selection of hand-crafted ales.
Wuerfel is joining a growing number of bookstores that are branching out into this related market. Besides The Spotty Dog, there is also the Quarter Barrel Brewery, which opened in Oxford, Ohio in 2010.
But even though Wuerfel had the idea, he still needed cash, so he turned to Kickstarter. He ran a crowd funding campaign last September and raised $17,000. He then used the funds to put in a nanobrewery and buy stock. Books and Brews is a used bookstore, and many of the fixtures were made by hand just for this store.
"One of things that always puts me off about the big-box bookstores is that there’s no sense of discovery," said Wuerfel. "In a place like this, it’s so much smaller, so much more of a personal touch. We can direct people in much more specific ways than just, 'Oh, here’s a horror section.'"
In addition to promoting good books and beers, Wuerfel is also planning events which will draw in the community, including live music, book clubs, tabletop games, movie screenings, author readings, wine tastings and open mic nights. Like many other booksellers, Wuerfel knows that simply selling books isn’t enough.