I told my wife that I wanted to retire at my first opportunity. I had known people who worked five more years to increase their pension, only to die one year after retirement. When I was offered a buyout, I took it. After moving and getting settled, I told my wife I would like to start a used -book business. She said, great idea.
We did some investigating and decided to meet with SCORE of the Small Business Administration. We were advised to go to a mall instead of renting a store. We found an antique mall just opening up and we were able to rent some shelf space. The first month, we may $50 profit. The building the mall was in was an old chicken house that held 85,000 chickens and half of it had been made into a small antique mall. Shortly thereafter, the rest of the building was remodeled and we were able to rent a cubicle.
We needed inventory for the shop, and I knew of an on-site auction where the owner had been a book collector. I was able to purchase a large amount of books. In addition to acquiring inventory, I needed to learn what books were collectible, what publishers were popular, which did re-prints and what made some books unique. And what made some books unique.
The internet was a big help. I could look up things like which Nancy Drew books were good, or the Hardy Boys or the Rover Boys. I learned of book series I’ve never heard of, like the Airplane Boys. I was able to find some of them at auction. At one auction I bought a collection of “Tarzan” books, which were in prime condition. Another genre was early Westerns, like Zane Grey and early mysteries like Philo Vance.
My wife enjoyed going to the auctions as we looked for more inventory for the shop. She suggested that she could put some teacups in with my books. I agreed with her, if that was what she wanted to do. As we went from auction to auction, I would buy books and she would buy other things. My cubicle for the books was 10 by 10 and her space for the teacups was 8 by 20. We had to work one day a month, assisting customers and keeping an eye on things. Otherwise, we did not have to be there except to add inventory and arrange the stock. My wife enjoyed buying at the auctions more than selling, while I preferred selling and receiving the money each month. We did this for 12 years and it was fun. We gave it up when the economy went south and sales went way down. The remaining inventory ended up in our basement and garage.
It came time for us to consider a retirement community and that meant downsizing and getting rid of all the stuff. I gave about 25 boxes of books to the Lions Club for their book barn and we took a lot of the teacups to auction, tried to foster some of the stuff out to the kids (no luck there), and scrapped some of it. All in all, it was a great experience with fond memories and we were both glad we did it.
The author lives in Manheim Township.