Charities and Education and Retail and Philanthropy and Real Estate & Retail

Indy Reads to open downtown bookstore

November 26, 2011

The adult-literacy organization Indy Reads plans to open a shop near the Indianapolis Cultural Trail that will sell used books.

Executive Director Travis DiNicola said he’s scouting locations on Massachusetts Avenue, as well as other areas in and around downtown, and hopes to have a store open by the end of March.

“We get contacted on a daily basis by people who want to donate books to us,” DiNicola said. Indy Reads uses textbooks that are made for adult learners, so he typically has referred book donors to Goodwill Industries or the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library.

Indy Reads is planning its first book drive for December.

Travis DiNicola DiNicola

Supporting charities through the sale of used stuff is a tried-and-true model, and Indy Reads won’t be the first to specialize in books. DiNicola said he began thinking seriously about a bookstore nearly two years ago, after meeting the director of The Book Shelf, a chain of three stores in Medina, Ohio, that supports an organization called Project Learn.

DiNicola said he first floated the idea of a bookstore to philanthropist Margot Eccles, who agreed to take a look at Indy Reads’ business plan and later gave $25,000. Since then, the Efroymson Family Fund has given $25,000, and the Glick Fund and Giving Sum, a group of young professionals, each gave $50,000.

DiNicola expects the bookstore to generate a $20,000 surplus in its first year and $50,000 thereafter. That will be possible with “great sales” and by keeping costs down, he said.

Ninety percent of the store’s inventory will be donated used books. Apart from a full-time manager and one part-time employee, the rest of the staff will be volunteers. Some of those volunteers might even be Indy Reads’ students, who are looking for job-training opportunities.

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