Starting a new business is an exciting and daunting task, especially in the retail sector. More than half of all new businesses fail, which can be attributed to a host of reasons. The Readery Books and Things in Plymouth, NH, appears to have avoided this fate by employing a very simple formula: Take a good idea, put it in the right location, provide fantastic customer service, and give something substantial back to the community.
In June 2001, The Readery established its first location on Main Street in Plymouth. A small business established two decades ago, serving the local community by offering gently used books, where patrons could come in and purchase a book for half off or more of the publishers listed price.
“Our store has always been unique in the sense that our entire inventory of books comes from our customers,” said Wendy Robb, Director of StaffWorks with Lakes Region Community Services. “The books displayed on our shelves are brought in by our loyal customers who are then offered store credit to purchase new gently used books.”
Even more impressive than The Readery’s business model is the shop’s community commitment. Since the beginning, the store’s leadership was dedicated to providing work opportunities for people in the community who experience intellectual or developmental disabilities or acquired brain disorders. Since its inception, the shop has employed numerous adults with disabilities, including Retail Associates, Belinda Hurd, Brint Woodward, and Liz Hormell, who have been employees since the 2001 opening.
Walking into the shop is impressive, as the walls are stacked with thousands of extremely organized paperbacks from which to choose. The store is very well laid out and the staff is tremendously helpful. Having cataloged and put away most of the books themselves, you can count on Liz and Belinda should you require guidance finding what you are looking for.
Heading to the register to pay for your purchase, you may realize that the cashier, Brint, is visually impaired. With the use of the latest in adaptive technology, he is sure to handle your transaction with ease! His talking calculator is used for adding up your purchases and a money note reader assists Brint to know what denominations of money he is working with at all times. With very little practice, Brint learned to navigate the register as well as anyone.
“Our Retail Associates are valuable employees in every way! They are the reason for LRCS business development and the success of this store,” said Robb. “All are dedicated employees whose contributions have reached beyond the store walls; they have made our community stronger!”
“Working at The Readery is special. Our work environment is second to none because of the employees. In my role, not only do I manage the store, but I also get to support three amazing individuals who have helped me grow in so many ways. I am honored to be a part of this team we have created and to watch their skills develop,” said Cathy Dupis, The Readery Store Manager.
The Readery plans to celebrate its 20th Anniversary with the public by hosting an Open House on Friday, June 25th from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm at their storefront located at 67 Main St, Plymouth. Guests will enjoy refreshments, raffle prizes, and perusing books to their heart’s content both inside the store and at the sidewalk sale outside.