Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's a bit like buying a house, really

After all, for one of the major decisions in your life, how difficult is buying a house? You drop in, have a bit of a poke around, a quick call to an estate agent to put in an offer. A couple of weeks later and you may have had one brief chat with a solicitor, fill in a form for the bank, by which time you can’t remember whether the kitchen looked as if it had been redecorated in the last decade and if all the curtain rails looked like they’d been put up by DIY first-timers after one too many cherry brandies. A few weeks later and you’ve got all your possessions in a big van and you arrive at your new home without really feeling you’ve done anything for such a life-changing event to have occurred. It’s beginning to feel like that with the bookshop. The odd telephone call here and there, and it really looks like everything is going to go ahead. Not that we’re exactly waiting for someone to raise a hand and say a big ‘no’. But when you’ve never done anything like this before, to suddenly realise that in approximately ten weeks’ time you’ll be sitting behind a counter of a shop that you actually own and run. It’s, well, a bit scary. So what have we actually been doing? The big one is that our accountant has said we need to be a limited company. But he can do that for us. It’ll take seven to ten days. The name Mostly Books Ltd is available, which is a bit lucky really. One telephone call from Mark and apparently we now have a web site and email. (Nothing on it yet, of course.) One phone call to a solicitor – lease can be reassigned, local searches done. July 1. No problem. (Hefty quote in the post any day now.) We have a computer system. Second hand. We phoned the computer company, who couldn't have been more helpful and said they are happy to set it up for a bookshop. We need to set up account with Nielsen first. (Very reasonable quote in the post any day now.) Mark took a trip to the south coast to pick up computer. That has saved us spending weeks trying to find the best system and doing a comparison. It was more a case of - it's available, it'll do the job. Hooray for ebay. Shelving. Several people have recommended Ikea. Much cheaper than we thought possible. Several people have offered assistance putting up a few shelves (!). Even the dreaded bags are looking possible for opening. Saw some bags we liked when out shopping – quick email to the shop concerned, quick telephone call to the printer – samples arriving in the post any day now. Delivery six to eight weeks, can probably produce art work from anything we send in an email. Brilliant. I have read on several occasions that you can’t wish to find a nicer bunch of people than crime writers – something about killing all those people on the page. Well everything that’s happened to us so far has made us think you can’t get a better bunch of people than small business owners (although I dread to think what their equivalent of killing all those people on the page might be). The two big ones that we haven’t yet achieved are: to meet with the freeholder to see if she likes the idea of a bookshop and actually wants us to go ahead. The meeting with the bank (gulp) to see if they like our plan enough to lend us shedloads of money to help realise the dream. The first of those is happening tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

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