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Shop success easily booked

IMAGINE putting your feet up in a hotel room and ordering your favourite book and a bottle of wine through room service.

Sound good? Well that is exactly the service a young Perth entrepreneur hopes to provide to hotel chains around Australia.

Ex-University of Western Australia art student Kirstin Butcher has signed deals with top Perth and interstate hotels to buy and carry her book lines in their foyers which will be made available through room service.

In Perth the Hyatt, the Chifley on the Terrace and the Novotel Vines have been the front runners, however, within three months the ambitious 27-year-old hopes to be selling her books to around 60 hotels throughout Australia.

If that is not enough Ms Butcher, who only opened her first Bookstop store in London Court eight months ago, already has her sights set on a similar store in Melbourne within the next three months and in Sydney by year’s end.

While many in the industry are suffering under the burden of high stock levels and are caught up in a heavy discounting war Ms Butcher said her business, born out of a solely online presence before taking physical space in the London Court retail precinct, had taking a different tack.

And it appears to be paying dividends with sales already surpassing expectations.

Her secret? No discounting, and carrying only small levels of stock that are handpicked by a team of ten reviewists.

“Our product is the reviewers rather than the books,” Ms Butcher told WA Business News.

“The books are only secondary. They are buying the reviewers before the books.”

This special emphasis on the reviewers is highlighted with a profile and picture of each reviewer adorning the wall of the London Court store.

A book is only sold if it has been reviewed and recommended by at least one of the reviewers.

The shop’s website also has a heavy emphasis on promoting the reviewers. It already has around 1,500 hits a week and provides around 20 per cent of the business’ revenue stream.

Ms Butcher said the reviewers represented the different walks of life.

“We want them to reflect the market. We have people who phone the reviewers for help,” she said.

To avoid getting caught in discounting wars, Bookstop makes a concerted effort at promoting itself to businessmen who enjoy reading quality books and for whom saving a few dollars is not so important.

“I don’t believe in discounting because books are valuable and are cheap when considering the hours of pleasure you get,” Ms Butcher said.

“And our type of customer doesn’t buy a book because it’s on discount. They buy it because it’s the book they want to read at that point of time.”

Ms Butcher said she first developed the idea for a bookshop while working in one to pay her way through university.

While working she developed a following of customers who would buy books that she had reviewed and recommended.

She spent the past two years honing her business skills while working as an account manager at BarterCard, which gave her a view into the world of different businesses.

But Ms Butcher said she believed it was not just good business nous that helped her this far.

Her youthful enthusiasm is also helping her through.

“Everyone I talk to is so enthusiastic with what I am trying to do. Everyone likes to see someone young succeed,” she said.

Ms Butcher said some of her best advisers were professional businessmen who bent over backwards to help her.

“I have an incredible network of people who have been into my shop and now advise me,” she said.

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