I thought it would be fun to hear from a Christian bookstore owner so I asked Kira Brant of Kira's Cottage in Franklin, Indiana to give us a peak into her world. Thanks, Kira!
How did you get started in this business? Have you always wanted to own a bookstore?
I actually got started right out of college. I had no plans originally of opening a store, but I was already designing my own line of Christian greeting cards and stationery . I was trying to market my products and I drove by a little shop in Greenwood, Indiana that was open. I thought to myself that it would be a great way for people to see my artwork. So, at first, I only sold my own products and artwork. I was there for a year, then I moved to a larger location and slowly started selling other items. We were at that location for 2 years, then I decided to move the store closer to home in Franklin, Indiana. It was then that the store really started to grow. I had a plan in place for what I wanted. I felt led to start selling more books and more Christian based items. We started adding bibles and curriculum. We are now a full service Christian book store. The funny thing is that I don’t have much time any more to design any of my greeting cards or stationery anymore, but I feel that the Lord has led me to what He wants me to do. I love it!
What is your favorite part of being a Christian bookstore owner? Least favorite?
My favorite part is meeting all of the wonderful people. I love talking to everyone and I have made so many friends. I have learned so much from people just walking in off the street. When I sit here and think of all the wonderful people I have met, I am so blessed. I also love the opportunity to get to work closely with my family on making decisions for products, displays, and things like that. Not sure what I would do without my family!
My least favorite part is the money part of it. I don’t like the stress of paying bills!
In what ways do you feel your store is serving the community? Any stories you would like to share?
I am praying that our store is a refuge that people feel like they can go and feel safe and at peace. Some people come in here upset or worried because of something going on in their lives. We might now always have the perfect thing to say, but we always have hugs to give out and ears to listen. My family and I work hard for the store, but don’t be mistaken, the Lord has done all of the hardest work. We want to continue to follow HIS plan for Kira’s Cottage.
I will be honest, our store has had up’s and down’s like all stores. There have been moments where I thought we should quit. There was one time where I was so down I was sitting on our couch in the middle of the store crying and praying. “Lord, show me what you want me to do. If you want me to close, I will do it. I need to know.” At this time we were struggling financially. About 15 minutes later and group of guys came in here and started to tell me that they knew how bad the economy was, but our store was a light in our community and no matter we needed to stay open. There were many other things said by these wonderful gentlemen and then they prayed with me. It was such a wonderful moment and I knew that the Lord had sent them to me. The Lord is amazing and I know if He wants us to be here, we will…
What kind of books do you personally enjoy? What types of books sell best in your experience?
I honestly love sappy romantic fiction! The kind of romance that happens in fairytales! You know, where the story has a happy ending, all of the problems that happened during the book get solved, and they all live happily ever after! Some friends in my book club call that fluff, but I love it!!!
Right now in our store all genre’s of books seem to be selling well. Non fiction and fiction are both popular. Our customers are looking for good writing, period. If it is a non fiction book, they want to learn from it. If it is fiction they want to be entertained and feel drawn into the story.
Is there anything you wish the publishing houses did better/differently?
I wish that publishing companies would do more for the little independents. I feel like there is so much focus on the chain stores that they sometimes forget that the independents are just as important.
What about authors? Is there anything authors can do to better help you in your business?
I love meeting authors. I am an artist, but I never could write! I think it is wonderful that authors can weave together stories that will last forever! The authors I have met have been wonderful here in our community. We have had book signings and discussions and they are always so much fun. I think that when an author shows enthusiasm about his/her book and wants to reach out and discuss it, it makes me more interested in the book.
I think I will go back to question #5 and say the same thing. I think it is important to remember that even though it is awesome to get your book into Barnes and Noble, sometimes the smaller independent store may get better response for your book. I think independents are more willing to take a risk on local authors and more willing to have them for book signings…
Thanks so much for answering my questions, Kira! And a big congratulations on the opening of your new store. Any closing thoughts?
Thanks so much Jamie! I think it is important to remember to do what you love and be open to new things. When I opened the store, I had no idea that I would be where I am today. I learn something new everyday about this business.
I am so thankful to be able to sell books to our community and I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to meet authors that I wouldn’t have met if not for the store. I want to thank the authors out there who bring us the wonderful stories and teach us so many new things and ways to learn. If it wasn’t for the authors, us book store owners wouldn’t be here at all!
The Christian bookstore owner is an important part in the process of getting great books that glorify God out to the world and we sure do appreciate hard working people like Kira! Any thoughts about bookstore owners?