Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Interview with Pablo Sierra, owner of Walls of Books, the new used bookstore on Georgia

Last week, we were pleasantly surprised with a used bookstore opening at 3325 Georgia Ave NW, Walls of Books. I reached out to owner Pablo Sierra to ask him more about it, and it sounds great -- and to address rumors that they were going to add a beer garden (sadly not true, says Sierra.)

I think a used bookstore is a great idea -- how did you come up with the idea?

I wish I could take credit for that. I've always loved reading and writing. After a few years in the Navy and a few years as a consultant, I needed to figure out what I was going to do when I grew up. I thought - How about a bookstore? It combines my love of reading and writing as well as my passion for business and project management. However, in doing a business plan, I realized, opening and running a bookstore is really hard - especially new retail books. Whether its knowing the industry, the capital investment or the on-going operations. In my research, though, I found a franchise dealing with books at used prices - Walls of Books. The owner and I talked and we shared similar visions and values for how a company should be run. After more due diligence, I made the decision and here I am.

How'd you choose this location?

I live in the Brightwood neighborhood and wanted to do something around there, Petworth, or Park View. We were able to get this space in Park View. It worked out.

Will the store specialize in any genres or types of books?

No. It's really just a general bookstore with used prices and great "Melissa & Doug" toys.

How did you get your collection to start off?

The franchise's book-buying department did most, if not all, of the work, to get a great inventory of books. We also have a "trade-in program for store credit" that I'm really excited about. People can come in, bring their books, I take a look, and give store-credit. What I'm excited about is that with the program and over time, customers get great books at great prices and the store begins truly representing the reading habits of the community, and ultimately represents the community at-large.

A reader heard from a staff member that you were planning a beer garden too, can you tell me more about that?

I wish. That's interesting...and a great idea! A beer garden? That's good and bad - I love beer and the temptation to drink on the job would be to great!

Will you have events like readings or meetups?

Yes. As part of our mission to support the reading and writing community, we plan on hosting events and programs such as children's read-along, workshops - you name it. If it fits with developing and encouraging reading and writing - we're open to see how we can support.

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