Saturday, February 20, 2010

Want Walls of Books? Check out Gottwals

That was the headline for the story Jenny Gordon from The Warner Robins Patriot wrote about our store!

Here's the story:
A community-friendly store that one can be proud of comes to mind for one Warner Robins business owner.

It is a locally-owned bookstore that sells used books, but it's much more than that for Abbey Gottwals, and her husband, Shane, who opened Gottwals Books in 2007.

Located on the corner of Carl Vinson and Russell Parkway in the Parkway Village shopping center, thousands of quality, used paperback and hardback novels can be found inside the 2,700-square-foot location.

In 2006, and with her husband's degree in English and hers in business from Mercer, the idea of opening a bookstore seemed ideal.

"When we hit on that idea, it was just perfect," said the 25-year-old Gottwals.

In the last few years the store has expanded its floor space, and the children's section at the back of the store is currently in an expansion phase.

You can find just about anything to read at Gottwals, including a selection of Melissa and Doug educational items. Its largest sections are adult fiction, young adult, teen and children's books, and a wide selection of science fiction and Christian books.

Having done extensive research on what kind of store they wanted in the community, the Gottwals settled on a formula that has worked well elsewhere: give excellent customer service, have affordable and good quality books, treat everyone like family and as Christians, and in all ways be fair and honest.

"We have a system that people seem to like so we do want to keep serving as many people as possible with it," explained Gottwals.

"One thing I was very adamant about was if we have a used bookstore, I wanted it to be nice and clean and set up well like a new bookstore would be," she continued. "Even now I really take pride in the fact that a lot of people come in, and they'll look around and ask if these are 'new' books or 'used' books."

"We really work on keeping it maintained nicely," she said of the store.

Much of the inventory comes from buyers the Gottwals work with, and all books are hand-selected for shelving.

One idea that has also worked well is trading or swapping books where no cash changes hands. Rather, customers can receive store credit toward the purchase of other books. You can use that credit to pay for up to half of your next item. And if you have books at home you'd like to bring in, they'll take those too if there's a need for those titles.

"A lot of people like to read, and they don't want to hang on to every single book they've read. This makes things more affordable, especially for those who read a ton or people with kids who are always going through new books and phases," added Gottwals.

The average book price is about $4 and in general, paperbacks sell for around $3 to $4. Last summer the young entrepreneurs opened a second, larger bookstore in Byron at the Peach Shops. A third store opened its doors just over a week ago in north.

Like many small business owners, Gottwals admitted the days can be long and the workload heavy.

"There's always something to be done, always improvements to be made, people to contact and books to price and shelve and organize. I've had to balance work with time off. And finding time to spend with my husband," she noted.

"Another challenge is just the novelty of what we're doing," she said. "We wanted to do something that was our own. The benefits to having this store have far outweighed any problems (other) we've had. Challenges have only made us want to be better and keep doing what we're doing."

She added that since the store opened they've spent very little on advertising, relying, instead, on word of mouth to get the word out.

But it's been the customers and relationships she's built over the years that make it all worthwhile.

"Bookstore people are just great," she said.

(Editor’s Note: Gottwals Books in Warner Robins opens at 9:30 a.m. during the week and on Saturdays. All stores are closed on Sundays. To give them a call, in Byron, call 956-0333, in Macon, 477-9200, and in Warner Robins, 225-1044. Also, visit
 A BIG thanks to Jenny for her great article and making me sound so smart!  


Wendy said...

Congratulations! What a great story! Living the American Dream! Awesome :)

Capability Mom said...

Congrats! Would love to do the same.

Julia said...

i'm so proud! I tell people all the time that i know an awesome couple that own their own business. I think it's great that you guys have accomplished so much!