Expansion: As Blake Aued (Culture Briefs) and others have reported, Janet Geddis, owner of beloved Prince Avenue business Avid Bookshop, has announced that Avid will open a second location right in the middle of Five Points, among the shops and restaurants on the street level of the Henrietta Apartments Building. Such expansion is clear evidence that the plucky little bookshop is succeeding, though such a move is always fraught with increased managerial and financial pressures.
Booklovers know that Avid is an inviting space staffed by people who also love books and are always quick to help or to leave you alone if you just want to browse, providing the quintessential local-business personal touch.
The success of Avid is no fluke, and the story of how the shop came to be would make a fine case study in business startups, helping to show just what it takes to get one going and how you’ve got to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Geddis came to Athens in 2004, typically, because of the university. During the next two years, she earned her master’s in gifted education. She liked Athens and during the next year, she began exploring the possibility of opening a bookstore. By the time she had decided to go for it, 2008 arrived, and the economy crashed.
The bad financial times turned out to be good for Avid. For the next three years Avid Bookshop existed only in Janet’s head. She was forced to tread water, unable to get loans and unsure that her dream could be fulfilled in such uncertain economic conditions. She plugged into local groups such as We Are Athens, exploring ways to promote local business and learning more and more about Athens. She worked part-time jobs and saved her money. She started a website, and she studied other bookstores.
“I drove around the Southeast,” she says, “and asked bookstore owners if I could observe their operations. I went to American Bookseller conventions.”
All that preparation paid off when Geddis started Avid. It will pay off again, along with all the experience of the last five years, as Avid takes this next big step, which, Geddis assures us, means Avid is expanding, not moving.
You can hear all about it as Geddis kicks off the Friends of the Library’s new series, Innovators @ The Library, with a talk entitled “The Highs and Lows of Opening an Independent Bookstore” this Sunday, Sept. 25 at 2:15 p.m. at the ACC Library.
Jackpot: My dear old friend Carey Williams Jr. is editor and owner of the Greensboro Herald Journal, over in Greene County, as were his father and grandfather before him. Carey and I grew up together, went to school and church together and played football together. We have been in the same line of work for decades. In short, we are the best of friends, and that’s why I have rejoiced at the news that Carey recently won $650,000 in the Georgia Lottery. I want to say that it could not happen to a nicer guy. It is times like these that make you value old friendship. Carey has always been an innovator in journalism, and it looks like he has found the solution to the economic woes faced in recent years by struggling local newspapers.
Closing: Parishioner Florence King reports that St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Pastor David McGuinness announced Sunday morning that the last mass has been held in the sanctuary on Prince Avenue, at the old location now approved for apartments and retail space. The sanctuary’s ceiling has caved in, and condensation from HVAC units is the suspected cause. It’s as if the old church held on until its next incarnation as a restaurant was assured and then gave up the ghost.
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