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Meet Amanda Beaudet of $5 Or Less Bookstore in Simi Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Beaudet.

Amanda, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Four years ago, I needed a job and walked into the only bookstore in town – the $5 Or Less Bookstore. I had applied before, but nothing came of it. When I saw that they were hiring again, I tried again. I got a call for an interview the next week and came in, got hired immediately after.

And so, it goes. Four years has passed and I’ve learned the ins and outs of what it really means to run an independent bookstore. How you stock it, staff it, market it, and support it. I’ve also learned how much books really still mean to people, regardless of whether it’s a beat up copy of Harry Potter or a family bible from the 1600s.

I still see a customer who heard me interview, Ed — he was sitting at the table behind us reading the morning paper. I’ve met kids twice – in utero and at our Storytimes. I’ve seen teenagers blossom into young adults at our Open Mics and Poetry Nights. I’ve had customers pass on and leave their store credit reserves to local teachers, who come in to stock their classroom shelves. Continuing the cycle of reading from one generation to the next is what has kept this business dear to my heart and kept me striving to make the best community bookstore I can.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have been some growing pains, that’s for sure. When I started at the bookstore, we had very little structure. For example, stocking the store was kind of a nightmare. New books coming in just meant random pallets and carts of titles coming in from our warehouse, without rhyme or reason. This soon becomes insane when you have a 5,000-sq. ft. space to fill. So, we created a stockroom order sheet for all four of our stores to communicate more effectively with our stockroom. We’ve grown as a company in other ways too – the other store managers and myself have worked to not only create a training program for new employees but those we promote up as well. We’re constantly working to better ourselves – my newest project is figuring out a new point of sale system that will allow us to keep track of exactly what we’re selling!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about $5 Or Less Bookstore – what should we know?
The $5 Or Less Bookstore is a subsidiary of Schwabe Books, but we have the same goal company-wide: keep books going. Whether that’s selling antiquarian titles online, selling wholesale to other bookstores nationwide, hosting school book fairs, donating books to the Philippines – we’ve done it all. We also buy books (and other items!) from everyone we possibly can — from the public to publishers, from estate sales to liquidators, we’re not picky. It’s not an uncommon sight to see forty pallets of books from god-knows-where just show up at our warehouse, waiting to be processed. I suppose we specialize in hustling – selling whatever we can to whoever we can for whatever we can get for it. I’m most proud of our abilities to find almost anything for anyone –whether that’s finding an out-of-print childhood favorite or a rare signed copy for a gift, we have so many resources to pair the right book with the right person. I think what sets us apart is our versatility — we’ve been able to exist as a book company in the 21st century by diversifying ourselves. Between four bookstores, book fairs, online sales, and wholesale dealings, we’re able to keep ourselves afloat in an age of uncertainty for the book industry.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have had so much help! Most notably, my first manager Will Riley and my previous district manager Lizzy Whitlock shaped me into the bookseller I am today. Will hired me and taught me everything he knew about the industry – from hand-selling techniques to the actual (not sentimental) value of books. He taught me the importance of customer service in this industry and that this is not your typical retail environment – empathy is the biggest tool we use on the floor. Lizzy helped me become a boss at what I was doing, by forcing me to come out of my shell and not be so afraid of being a leader. She also was the driving force behind most of the structure we worked on and implemented. Even though it was hard in the beginning, her help has made our lives so much easier. I would also not be anywhere if it weren’t for my boss and owner of the company, Greg Schwabe. From answering any question I could possibly have to constantly encouraging me to think outside of the box, Greg has always been a highly influential figure in my career at the $5 Or Less Bookstore.


  • All of our books are $5 or less!

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Image Credit:
Alexandra Naylor

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