I think back when blogs were conquering the Earth, a common slam on them was that a lot of people would just write “Sorry I haven’t updated, I will soon!”, and then maybe a little more detail, but not much. I keep holding myself back from doing that, because I have been meaning to update, but I never have a ton of time.
I started my little side business selling camera film in Canada, and originally my idea was just “Hey, it’s a pain to buy this stuff here, and I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way, so I’m going to start a little online store, and it won’t be too much work, and who knows, maybe it’ll take off after a year or two”, but things went a different way. The store has become much more popular than I expected, much quicker. I’m spending a lot of time importing merchandise, shipping orders out, re-stocking, etc. It’s fun, but unexpected.
I’ve always loved the idea of having a small, well curated online store. For some reason, it appeals to me to create a really well done online store that looks really nice, has a lot of detail, but doesn’t necessarily sell much. I tried doing this a little bit about 10 or 12 years ago, but back then I had to write the software myself, and it took a lot of time. Nowadays, you can get something together much quicker, although there’s still a lot of work to do an decisions to make.
There’s one online store idea that I’ve always wanted to do, but it always seemed to be too much work, because I’d have to go buy some boxes, figure out shipping rates, buy packing tape, etc. Now that I’m actually boxing up orders and shipping them regularly, I might actually do it.
The idea was to create an online store where you’d visit, and there would be a webcam pointing at a single book, streaming constantly. That would be the only book for sale, and there would only be 1 copy, and when somebody bought it, I would walk over, move it out of the way, and put a different book up for sale.
I was thinking that I could call it The World’s Smallest Online Bookstore, but I’m not 100% sold on that name. There seem to be a few actual brick and mortar businesses who call themselves the world’s smallest bookstore, and I imagine if I searched hard enough, there has to be someone using that as the name for their online store.
Interestingly, the main result I get for the world’s smallest bookstore is a place that closed in 2016 and was about 2 hours north of Toronto, in the Kawartha region. I really like that area, and I usually go to Bobcaygeon once a summer, so I wish I had known about the place before it closed, it looked really cool. The article I linked is a very good read, it’s at least looking just for the picture of the signage.
Toronto also used to be the home of The World’s Biggest Bookstore, which I went to many times from when I was a kid onwards. It closed a couple of years ago, which wasn’t incredibly surprising. Turns out that occupying a huge chunk of prime downtown real estate is only good when your industry is booming.
Here’s a little history of good and bad times to be a small or big bookstore, decade by decade:
1980: Huge brick and mortar bookstore: Awesome, profitable idea.
1980: Huge online bookstore: Bad idea because online doesn’t exist.
1990: Huge brick and mortar bookstore: Still looking good!
1990: Huge online bookstore: There is some online, but still a bad idea.
2000: Huge brick and mortar bookstore: I think this is still okay.
2000: Huge online bookstore: Oh yeah baby.
2010: Huge brick and mortar bookstore: Yeah, not looking so good.
2010: Huge online bookstore: Oh yeah baby.
2020: Huge online bookstore: This went so well the founder started a literal spaceship company.
2020: Tiny webcam-powered online bookstore: Wow this went even better than expected, and after 3 years, I am happy to announce that I have purchased 2 spaceship companies.