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Meet Abbigail Glen of Shelves Bookstore

Today we’d like to introduce you to Abbigail Glen.

Abbigail, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have been talking and daydreaming about owning my own bookstore for the last 5+ years. I’ve always been an avid reader as a kid and still read tons of books till this day. I read 52 books in 2018. The plan was to start saving to open my own bookstore after I got out of debt. Well, I accomplished my goal of becoming debt-free and ended up resigning from my job as an HR professional with a small technology company based in Charlotte, NC shortly after that.

The initial plan was to find another HR job, so I could continue saving money toward my goal; but while looking for a new job, I kept thinking about the bookstore. During a phone conversation with a friend one day, I shared all of my plans for my bookstore, including wanting to host book fairs for children & adults. She suggested that I could do that now as a pop-up. I took her advice and that’s how Shelves Pop-Up Bookstore came to be.

Has it been a smooth road?
Owning, operating, and running an independent bookstore, especially one that is mobile has definitely not been a smooth road; but it’s been an incredible learning experience so far. The truth is that those of us living in the U.S.A. are conditioned to pay for things at deeply discounted prices, particularly when we buy products from powerhouses like Amazon and Walmart. Books are no exception to that rule, so paying the list price for a book causes many people to second guess whether or not they actually want it. This, in turn, can negatively impact independent bookstores who have no choice but to charge customers the list price on books in order to earn a profit within an industry that has a low-profit margin.

Also, because Shelves is a mobile bookstore, we partner with other businesses & organizations in order to conduct business. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to our partners’ business analytics, so I have to trust what they tell me regarding how high their customer traffic will be on the days that they are scheduled to host us. In addition to that, I have to create & maintain my own analytic reports and determine which days, times, and locations are best for bookselling.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Shelves Bookstore – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Shelves Bookstore essentially meets customers where they are. Since we are mobile, we have the ability to expose people to great books while they’re enjoying a cup of coffee, a warm donut, or having an offsite business meeting. We offer a personally curated selection of picture books, middle school titles, young adult books, and adult titles because it’s important that we have books for the whole family. Our hope is to introduce customers to diverse authors and stories that they probably would not have come across while browsing the internet due to algorithms and market saturation.

Our goal is to increase literacy and mindfulness by encouraging people to engage in the very intentional act of reading books. I am most proud of the fact that since we held our very first pop-up bookstore in June of 2019, I have been able to convince over 15 local businesses across three North Carolina cities & towns: Charlotte, Concord, and Mint Hill to partner with us. This accomplishment is a testament to the importance of having transferable skills. Thankfully, cultivating and maintaining business professional relationships is one of mine.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Having grown up in one of the largest cities within the country, it can take a while to get used to a smaller city. However, I really enjoy living in Charlotte and believe that all of the growth happening here will benefit small businesses the long-run, especially if we work together.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
My personal photo was taken by Sarah Bergen of Southern Blooms NC.

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