Middle Georgia's Gottwals Books is 2018 Georgia Small Business ROCK STAR
Monday, March 26th, 2018
Traditionally, used bookstores are known for being dusty, musty hole-in-the-wall locations with very little organization. It’s hard to find a book you’re interested in, and special orders are out of the question. Peach County’s Shane Gottwals and the Gottwals Books/Walls of Books team are placing the used book industry on notice with their retail model.
Gottwals Books based in Byron, Georgia, is clean, well-lit, and has clearly labeled sections. But it’s not stiff. Each of their 17 locations across the country is unique to the owner and the community, and meets the need of communities that are traditionally underserved by the bookstore industry. As a result, their locations attract customers from a wide area.
One of Gottwals’ unique features is its store credit system that allows customers to trade their books. This credit pays for 50% of in-store used book purchases, and the other half is paid out of pocket, allowing a significant discount for the customer and maintaining a steady stream of revenue for Gottwals.
Gottwals Books and its franchise Wall of Books are also tremendous supporters of the communities where they are located and host many events throughout the year. These events often feature authors, include prizes and giveaways, and feature storytimes for kids. Often, they are the only bookstores within a wide driving distance that offer low-cost options.
The success of this model can be seen in the growth of the company. Founded in 2007 with one store and zero employees, Gottwals now has a total of 20 employees in their four Gottwals Books locations. The company’s 13 franchise locations employ their own workers.
Gottwals has also purchased a 45,000 square-foot warehouse in Byron to serve the growing business. This addition has allowed Gottwals to greatly increase the quality and quantity of books offered in their stores, and provided for plenty of space to keep inventory for new store locations and boost internet sales. Since the addition of this facility, Gottwals’ internet sales have increased by 50%!
Gottwals Books relied upon a number of services to assit in their growth, including the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Shane and his team reccomend the SBDC to each of their Georgia store owners.
Local support is also key to the growth of Gottwals. They have been active members area Chambers of Commerce, including the Robins Regional, Greater Macon, Forsyth-Monroe, and Peach Regional. They also worked closely with the Peach County Development Authority during the acquisition of the warehouse, as well as the cities of Byron and Perry.