Last week I announced a new weekly feature that I'm trying out on Have Fun * Do Good, Ask Britt, where you send in questions related to career design for artists and activists, and I'll do my best to answer them. I encourage you to add on to my answers in the comments.
This week's question is:
My husband has recently linked up with a friend to buy a second hand bookstore. Do you have any ideas on how to make this small business venture a positive force for good?
How fun! Just owning an independent bookstore is creating a positive force for good, in my book (no pun intended). Here are a few ideas for your husband's new business venture:
• Be green. Natural Resource Defense Council has an article, Greening Your Business, which lists tips for making your business green like recycling, using copier and printer paper that is post-consumer and recycled, using Energy Star office equipment, and getting an energy audit. He may even be able to get his business certified as "green" like the Bay Area Green Business Program does, which could be a selling point for potential customers.
• Be a community gathering space. If the space allows, be a low-cost gathering space for your community to have meetings, readings, exhibit art, post events, etc. For example, we have a small store in Oakland called Issues that sells international newspapers and magazines. They are having an art opening this week for Creativity Explored, an organization that helps adults with developmental disabilities create, exhibit and sell art.
• Organize other local businesses. Create a "Buy Local" holiday shopping weekend with fellow vendors like the San Francisco Small Business Commission's Shop Local First campaign.
• Donate to your community. Hold an annual fundraising event with readings and signings by local writers to benefit a literacy program at a school, nonprofit or library, or to give a grant to an aspiring local writer.
• Help your community donate. Make it easy for people to give away the used books you don't want to purchase from them. Provide them with a list of places to donate to, or a collection bin that an organization picks up once a week.
• Take care of yourself and your employees. Do whatever it is you need to do to enjoy running your new businesses so that you're happy at your work. Pay your employees the best wages and benefits you can. Happy sales people create happy return customers .
You can email me your question (please keep it to 50 words) about the do-good, or artistic work you are doing, or want to do, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Title your email, "Ask Britt: your question topic." I won't post your name, but I will post your question with my answer, so keep that in mind as you write if you don't want details in your question to identify you.
Flickr photo credit: Strand Bookstore uploaded by Kathleen Conklin