Before graduating from Laguna Blanca School in June, I had to fulfill one final requirement — the senior project. Fulfilling that requirement involved leaving campus for a couple of weeks and going out into the world to work as an intern. Fortunately, my experience working for the recently opened Granada Books at 1224 State Street offered more than I bargained for. I have long been an avid reader and a bookstore lover, so I knew I would like it. But not only did I learn more about books and bookselling than I already knew; I also got a chance to see what it’s like to open a business. What follows is my attempt to capture some of the lessons I learned in a series of instructions: How to open a bookstore, Granada Books–style.
STEP ONE: Find a goal (aside from profit), and strive for it. Granada Books partners Emmett McDonough and Sharon Hoshida refer to their shop as “A Community Bookstore” because they are as motivated by the need they see for a full-service bookstore on State Street as they are by the need to turn a profit. The comfort and safety of a bookstore offers a unique service to the community; it is this hole in our social fabric that Granada Books means to fill. Of course they will need to make enough money to stay open, but swelling the bottom line is not their only motive.
STEP TWO: Assess the area. Santa Barbarans have long awaited a new bookstore on State Street. There seem to be few good places in the area to meet up or take a break downtown. With only a couple of bookstore choices available, problems finding a particular title are commonplace. Santa Barbara has been clamoring for a new bookstore, and the idea of one that is locally owned and located on a busy, pleasant block of State Street is generally met with heartfelt excitement.
STEP THREE: Hire a knowledgeable and dedicated staff. While McDonough and Hoshida may not have been involved in book sales before, they knew enough to bring in real experts. Managers Mark Zolezzi and Andrea McCormick have more than 25 year of experience in bookstores between them, and they have put together a team that includes a variety of people united by their passion and knowledge when it comes to books.
STEP FOUR: Design a useful and fun space. Good lighting and plenty of seating are necessities, as are well-organized shelves and breathing room. Put them all together, and magic happens. At Granada Books, the children’s section in particular has a distinctive feel and color scheme that are sure to attract any child in the vicinity.
STEP FIVE: Get people involved. Granada Books already has a full lineup of events to come, ranging from author talks and signings to knitting nights and rainbow readings. There will be young-adult “book tastings” and local artists’ trunk shows.
STEP SIX: Throw an awesome party. On June 20, opening night, Mayor Helene Schneider cut the traditional ribbon, and all four of Santa Barbara’s former poet laureates plus current Laureate Chryss Yost delivered poems for the store, which were recited at the party. Those poems now hang on the walls of the store, where they can be enjoyed in days to come. Between the live band and the cake, there were books sold and stories told.
STEP SEVEN: Put your assets to use. On Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Granada Books is now open and fully operational.
Find Granada Books at 1224 State Street, call (805) 845-1818, or visit sbgranadabooks.com.