I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.
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When I was young, my very early twenties, I moved across the country, on a whim. I ended up staying in a motel in Pocatello, Idaho, bummed around the town a bit, stayed another night, and then another, and another, until I rented an apartment in this old turn of the century hotel-turned-apartment. The building was amazing, it was incredibly out of place in Pocatello, Idaho, unless something was happening at the turn of the century in south eastern Idaho that I'm completely unaware of, it was five stories, it had red velvet carpeting, maroon wallpaper with golden symbol, and trim, gold (painted) radiators on each floor at either end, near the stairs. Each room had a milk door that opened in the kitchen, under the sink, and the corner apartments, such as mine (on the third floor), had an extra small room, three sides where - nearly - floor to ceiling windows, and the fourth 'wall' was a pair of french swinging doors that opened up into the main room of each apartment. Again, the building was amazing, because why else would I spend as much time needlessly describing my apartment in Pocatello, Idaho? It really has nothing at all do with the intent of this blog. That, or I've forgotten completely, where I was going with this...
...right, so I moved to Idaho. I stayed in Pocatello for several months, working the graveyard shift at ConAgra Lamb Weston, a potato processing plant several miles away in American Falls. It was alright, the money was good. I was a machinist. The company closed the plant for the entirety of Easter weekend, and I drove to nearby Idaho Falls, Idaho. It was my first time out there. A lot happened to me in Idaho Falls, in the way of adventures, and stories, and I'm sure I either have told, or will tell, them throughout the course of this (these) blogs, but for the purpose of this blog, of this story, what matters is that while I was in Idaho Falls, I met a girl. And we got married.
Crystal and I know knew each other for five months before, basically, eloping at the Idaho Falls Courthouse. We moved in together, I took a job managing a Hastings, alongside writing, and - here's where any of this becomes relevant - we opened a joint bank account.
When we separated, and subsequently divorced I learned, first hand, how marriage, and divorce can affect your credit score!
And, for years, I wasn't especially concerned with it, the life I was leading (living in New York, writing, basically playing the role of a 'starving artist,' in New York City), my credit score was only imaginary number attached to my imaginary number that is my social security number. It didn't have a direct effect - at the time.
I knew that one day I would sit down, and work it out, and eventually start my bookstore, but I never realized that that one day would come so soon, and I was completely unprepared!
I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in a two bedroom house with my girlfriend, and two of her three kids, at the time, and I was completely miserable, and alone, as well as being emotionally abused, and manipulated by one of the worlds greatest harbingers of manipulation, control, and hatred, I mean, she was masterful at this practice, and all in the guise of an unassuming 5'3' Swedish/Spanish dark haired, dark eyed, mousy Muslim woman. I threw myself entirely into this bookstore, because I needed to escape, and my bookstore became my mind palace, and comfort zone.
Of course, when it came time, once I moved back to Boerne, and physically escaped from my mousy capture, I was still obsessed with opening Wardrobe Books, and eventually CommuniTea Books, until it came time to find funding and, after studying the SBA (Small Business Association) website, and applying for loan options through them, and walking through the doors of a bank in San Antonio Texas my credit score still didn't concern me all that much. Yes, it was on my mind, but I would sit down and look at my business plan, think about the truths surrounding the economy, and the town, and the changes, and honestly, to me, and to several business owners that I talked to around town (even though it was a bookstore, and, in Texas, books are still 'a thing of the past,' the resurgence had not yet breached the boundaries of the Lone Star state, or at least beyond Larry McMurtry's, and Archer City's Booked Up, or Austin's Book People), it seemed like a bad idea not to open a bookstore. My Financial Adviser spoke with me, in detail, he loved my business plan, he saw everything that I did, in the way of a successful small business venture, only his manager, and the bank couldn't see past a three digit number that was a bit lower than they were used to seeing attached to people in my position. So I walked out of that bank, a little deterred.
Banks, however, are not the only avenue to find small business funding!
PeopleFund and LiftFund
I pursued every avenue, simultaneously. And I sought advice from local business owners, and prominent businessmen and women throughout the Texas Hill Country.
Gust.com (and others), but Gust is like LinkedIN for people looking for angel investors. You create a profile, include several key aspects of your business, and you network. It's really an amazing platform, my only issue with it is that it works better, if not only, for people who are equally as capable getting a loan from a bank. Which seems strange to me, I mean, yes I understand that people may not want to go the route of procuring a loan from a bank, but why Angel Invest then? The risk is smaller, maybe, but at what cost? Venture Capitalist, it's the same story.
PeopleFund and LiftFund are fantastic avenues, and they had a means to help me through my credit score issue, which resulted in me starting a Crowd Funding campaign, and in the process I did actually use both KickStarter and crowdfunding.com.
Silent Partners, and Family & Friends is still probably the best way to go, however some people, like me, are, either: not in the position to ask certain family members, or you maintain 'Black Sheep' status in your family. I'm not the Black Sheep because I'm odd, or un-relateable, I'm the Black Sheep because I've always found it difficult to open up to my family. It's inherent, and one of the few inherent interpersonal issues that has shadowed me throughout my entire life (and not necessarily a developed trauma created by the dark witch of Santa Fe).
In one way or another my credit score failed me in almost every attempt, but, in part, only because people are still nervous to invest in a book/used book focused venture, despite the growing number of used bookstores, the increase in book sales, and the decrease of eBook sales: we have been told, for the last 10 years, that books, that print, that publishing is an outdated, thing-of-the-past, and often, quite simply, we've been conditioned to believe it, instead, even, of believing our own eyes and ears as the industry is proving otherwise.
So, what did I do?
My debt wasn't magnificent. I owed a couple thousands dollars, and once that was eradicated, I could, then focus on that score - that credit score.
I took another job. The focus of the 'other' job was to throw money, all of that income, at my debt, and my credit score, to rebuild it, as quickly, and efficiently as possible. And what better place than Amazon! Right?
If you're in an industry, you need to start learning, and you never stop, you always grow, you always allow for change, you always need to understand how to do things better, and why some things work, and others do not. I wanted to know as much as I could about my industry. Period. And Amazon has, in a lot of ways, reestablished my industry.
I would let Amazon pay me to learn, and then I would come out of that better, stronger, and more equipped to open the best new, used, remainder, rare, and collectible bookstore, and teahouse ever.