Today we’d like to introduce you to Annie Chung.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It all started when my brother and I saw how much waste there was in the used book industry. After nearly a decade in the industry, we decided there has to be a better way.
Each year, millions of pounds of books end up being debinded and pulped at paper mills to be turned into cardboard boxes and napkins. These are good readable books that could have a second or third life in another reader’s hands.
50/50 bookstore is a response to this issue.
In December 2017, we launched our crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to raise funds to complete the construction of the bookstore. In January 2018, thanks to the support of our 70 backers, we successfully raised our goal of $9,000.
We opened a brick and mortar in February 2018 in the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood in Denver, and have been serving the community ever since.
Our name “50/50 Bookstore” comes from the idea we are share 50/50 with the community. We have been able to grow as much as we have because of the tremendous support we’ve received from our community thus far—including bookstore visitors, volunteers, board members, partners, and everyone that donates their books.
On a more personal level, I am where I am today because of the incredible group of people that have supported me along the way including friends, family, and kind-hearted people I have met along the way.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think we would be where we are today if we didn’t run into any roadblocks and detours along the way. I believe that growth comes when faced with challenges. With that said, some of the challenges we’ve faced as an organization included getting a solid board together, learning how to recruit, coordinate, and retain volunteers, and building out a solid, sustainable foundation.
50/50 Bookstore – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
50/50 Bookstore is dedicated to promoting literacy through greater access to books. We fulfill our mission in two ways: our pay-what-you-can bookstore and our literacy initiatives.
We specialize in receiving book donations (pick-ups/drop-offs) and redistributing them to maximize community impact.
When visitors walk into the bookstore, the first thing that most mention is the quality of the books. Though the book donations we receive are primarily used, our volunteers that staff the bookstore are trained to ensure that the books put out on the bookshelves in excellent condition.
We take pride in holding excellence as one of our top values and being able to execute it well. We uphold this value because we believe that every person deserves to have access to books in excellent quality and presented in an excellent, dignifying way, regardless of age, gender, background, and social status.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment so far would have to be when I let my pride down and accepted the fact that I needed help building this organization. Only good things have come from asking for help!
- $8.50 provides a Title I classroom with 10 children’s books
- Address: 4425 Grape Street, Denver, CO 80216
- Website: 5050books.org
- Instagram: 5050books
- Facebook: facebook.com/5050books
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/50-50-bookstore-denver-2
Scott Eide, The GrowHaus