We (that’s Bea and Leah, sisters and founders) love romance novels. We always have. Or at least, we have since we were allowed to pick out our own books.
What we found when we discovered the romance genre was an incredible community. A community of smart, funny, engaged readers who love to talk about books as much as we do.
But we also (quickly) discovered the stigma attached to the genre. The idea that these books are less than others.
We don’t agree, and neither do the millions of women and men who read romances every day, making it the best selling genre in North America, to the tune of $1.08 billion in 2013 (that's from the Romance Writers of America FYI). Financially at least, the romance genre is doing just fine.
But there is no physical space where romance enthusiasts can come together to buy the books they love.
We want to change that.
The Ripped Bodice will be the only exclusively romance bookstore in the United States, opening March 2016 in Los Angeles.
Following in the footsteps of many local booksellers before us, The Ripped Bodice will be more than just a place to buy books. It will be a community space, with a full calendar of events, including author signings, book clubs, lectures by leaders in the industry, and so much more.
A hint of what’s in store (teehee)
Store Layout and Inventory
We’ve thought long and hard about how to lay out The Ripped Bodice. We want to make it easy to both find what you’re looking for and discovery new works. In the romance section of a full service bookstore, things are generally organized alphabetically, making it hard to browse if you just want paranormal witch stories/cowboy heroes with hearts of gold/Regency house parties that go terribly awry. Because The Ripped Bodice is devoted exclusively to romance, we have the luxury of organizing by sub-genre.
The Minerva Library
Named after one of the first circulating libraries in Regency England, The Minerva Library is our exclusive Romance-of-the-month club. Half-year and full-year memberships are both available, with members receiving one new book each month, along with a small surprise (like a necklace or notepad) chosen by Bea and Leah, and a snazzy membership card to show off to all your friends.
Book Clubs and Community Events
We will have a full calendar of exciting events including author signings and lectures and numerous romance bookclubs.
We also want to have fun with the diverse fandoms that romance intersects with. TV shows like Downtown Abbey, Outlander and The Bachelor franchise and movie adaptations like The Notebook and each new iteration of Pride and Prejudice are beloved by many in and outside of the romance world. We plan on hosting TV nights and screenings with snacks, booze and spirited discussion.
We want to give back to our local community wherever possible. We have several different avenues of charitable giving that we are excited to pursue.
-Offering customers the chance to round up for charity at checkout. Donating a few cents here and there can add up in a big way.
-Donating used books to women's shelters around Los Angeles
-Exclusive apparel that benefits a different charity each month
What's In A Budget?
There are three main categories of expenses that we will break down below. Please note: it is important to us that our backers understand where their money will be going. Brick and mortar stores are expensive to open and we want you to know the specific associated costs. However all of these numbers are preliminary and subject to change.
The main cost associated with opening a bookstore is the cost of your inventory, that's the books!
We are using an estimate of $50 per square foot of selling space. Romance novels cost about $4-7 each for booksellers, so that is between 7 and 12 books per square foot.
We have not chosen our space yet (although we have started to explore some fantastic real estate options) but we are using an estimate of 1150 square feet to make these calculations. That means the our initial inventory buy for the store will cost $57,500.
2: Fixtures and Furniture
We need somewhere to put all those books! This is the cost of all of our furniture, shelving, lighting, and flooring. Everything we need to make the store beautiful and unique. Our budget for this section is $18,000.
3: Everything else
This list includes our computer equipment and point of sale system, signage, a sound system, publicity and promotion, utility costs, and professional fees like permits and licenses. Our budget for this section is $14,500
All Together Now!
$57,500 for inventory + $18,000 for fixtures and furniture + $14,500 for everything else = $90,000
But once we hit that goal, please don't stop giving! Every extra dollar means a more beautiful, diverse store for our community.
Risks and challenges
As with any business, there are a number of obstacles and challenges associated with opening a brick and mortar bookstore.
Here are the three main challenges we are facing:
1. Opening costs
We have formulated our budget after extensive research but there are always costs that cannot be accounted for. Every extra dollar we raise above our goal helps to insure that we can cover any unexpected expenses.
2. Standing out in the bookseller market
We are confident that such a unique store will attract customers, especially the motivated and engaged community of romance readers. We know that many of our target demographic does not live in Los Angeles, so we are planning on an online store as well as a physical location.
3. Financial solvency
Meeting projected sales goals can be a challenge. We have an aggressive marketing strategy to bring in new customers and keep them coming back. A key aspect of this is always evolving. We will maintain an exciting roster of events (both in-store and online), focusing on new releases.
Press Inquiries please contact Sabrina Dax at Sabrina@SabrinaDax.comLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)