Business Person of the Month: Tere and James Hyfield of Red Stick Reads

Tere and James Hyfield, Red Stick Reads
541 South Eugene Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70806
Web: https://redstickreads.com/
Phone: (225) 333-8312
Email: redstickreads@gmail.com

 

Years ago, when Tere and James Hyfield would talk about their dream of opening a bookshop in Baton Rouge, people told them it was a bad idea. James told me, “We went to a couple of SCORE meetings, and they’d say, ‘Bookstore, huh? Yeah, don’t do it!’ Retail’s a bad idea, and a bookstore is the worst of retail–”

“But there’s a lot of what we’ve done that makes no sense,” interjected Tere, “and we know that. And I think that’s why it’s kind of working.”

And the Hyfield’s bookshop – Red Stick Readsis working. After being a fixture of the Mid City Makers’ Market (“even though we’re not makers, exactly,” says Tere) until COVID-19 shut that down, they were approached to begin renting the Market’s old location after it moved to the Electric Depot last year. Even though the space is small, especially for a bookshop, where the conventional wisdom ties profit to square footage, James knew a book-seller’s secret from working in Barnes and Noble’s receiving dock: “[book stores] have this enormous building, with so much pride in how much they carry – you can walk in and find any book you’re looking for – but the reality of the finances is, people are only buying 100 books” at any one time, mostly pulled from best-seller lists, book clubs (think Oprah’s or Reese Witherspoon’s), and gift sets.

James and Tere knew they couldn’t compete with the big stores on inventory breadth, so they pivoted to depth. James says, “I only sell books that I either want to read, or already have read, so I can speak to what I know.” Since they’re not trying to be everyone’s bookshop (“You’re going to know very early on whether we’re the bookstore for you or not,” Tere said), they’re able to be a better bookshop for their customers, many of whom are starting to be repeats. Tere told me about one customer who loves Dolly Parton, so if she sees any Parton books in her search for new inventory, she grabs them. The repeat customers help define the store’s inventory as well – and that all lends to the neighborhood bookstore feel that James remembers from his childhood in Baton Rouge.

He told me, “There used to be this place, Elliot’s, where the Coffee Call is now. When I was seven, it was the place to go, and when I was sixteen, it was the place to go. If you were a regular – if the people who worked there knew you well enough – they’d have a stack of books waiting for you when you walked in. My dad used to go there all the time, and Elliot would pull this stack of books from behind the counter and say, ‘Here ya go, these are for you.’ It was the coolest place to go.” James’s goal with Red Stick Reads is to make it that kind of local spot. They’ve just built a community garden space next to the store, and are asking local theatre groups and bands to play in the evenings. Partly, they want to foster the kind of story-telling community that can only exist through reading books. But they also realize that, “for us to survive, we have to be ‘owned’ by a neighborhood” like Mid City.

The Hyfields chose the Mid City neighborhood for their base of operations because the neighborhood “has its mind right” for supporting local businesses. “The kind of people who shops with us,” James said, “are the kind of people who want communities to be walkable. Our landlord – who lives right behind our store, by the way – said he asked us to rent the space because he wanted a neighborhood bookstore. And you don’t get that kind of culture in a lot of Baton Rouge. You have this discrepancy between what people want, and what they’re willing to pay for – and that makes it hard for new businesses to come in and succeed. Our business requries people to spend a littel extra on a luxury product, because a book is not a necessity – except for book readers, they’ll always buy books.” Tere added, “In a lot of ways, we’re a gift shop disguised as a bookshop. For a while in the early days of the pandemic, we were a puzzle shop! But Mid-City – if we were gonna make it anywhere, we’d make it here. The people who live here are invested in their surroundings in ways we haven’t seen in other parts of town, and they’ve been incredibly supportive.”

Even though James and Tere are fairly new entrepreneurs, they had plenty of advice for people looking to start a business. Some of that advice is to scale organically and to be prepared to pivot. Red Stick Reads started as a pop-up shop at the Mid City Market, pivoted to at-home delivery and puzzles (“lots of puzzles!” said Tere) during the lockdown, and only moved into their new space at the beginning of 2021. They’ve built their shelves themselves from salvaged lumber, and haven’t had to get a business loan from a bank. The other piece of advice – and this dovetails with the organic scaling – is that there comes a point where you have to jump in to a new venture with both feet. Tere said, “It’s not just jumping though, like a leap of faith. It’s a matter of doing it while being thoughtful, doing your homework, but then you have to do something. Not start the company” – that’s too big – “but make the phone call, figure out licensing, join an organization, that kind of thing. There’s a lot of yucky work you have to do to start a business. If you’re still excited after those days, keep following that.”

James added, “If you can picture yourself doing that job for years without getting paid – the SBA says to be prepared not to make money for three to five years – if it’s something you enjoy even with that, go for it.”

Tere said, “I can live with a regret. What I can’t live with is the thought: oh, what if we had just tried, that one time when you were between Whole Foods and the other place, imagine if we would’ve jumped – that, I’d never get over.”

Article by Case Duckworth

Virtual Legal Clinics with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services


The East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) are pleased to announce the launch of a new partnership for library patrons. Starting November 1, 2020, SLLS will offer a free virtual library legal clinic to eligible library patrons for civil cases. The legal clinic is focused on assisting low-income families and individuals with civil legal issues. Federal income guidelines are used to determine eligibility for legal representation.

Legal Issues Covered Include:

  • Evictions
  • Landlord-Tenant Disputes
  • Federal Tax Issues
  • Employment
  • Public Benefits (SNAP and Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security)
  • Foreclosures
  • Bankruptcies
  • Consumer Issues
  • Divorces and More

The clinic does not handle personal injury, criminal cases, or malpractice cases.

If you are interested in the legal clinic, fill out the form or call the Library at (225) 231-3750 if you need help completing the form.

DEI Online Certification Program

 

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library has partnered with the America, My Oyster Association to provide a curated list of online courses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Courses are completely free and 100% accessible online. Current and recently graduated high school and college students are encouraged to participate in this program. On completion, they will be provided with a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) certificate.

Lynda.com Courses:

To access these courses, go to ebrpl.com and click on ‘Digital Library’ then A-Z List, and choose Lynda.com from the list. You can also click here to go directly to Lynda.com. The first time you access it, you will click ‘create profile’ and set up a password for your account. From then on you will use your library card number and password to access it. Once your account has been set up you can search for the courses below:

  • Confronting Bias: Thriving Across Our Differences – Find greater meaning, well-being, and productivity by learning how to interact with others across differences. Continue your Thrive journey and discover how to create inclusive environments where everyone can thrive. In this course, Arianna Huffington and Verna Myers discuss the impact of our cultural lens on our daily relations and how to counter bias in our words and actions. Course Length: 40 Minutes
  • Unconscious Bias – We’re all biased. Our experiences shape who we are, and our race, ethnicity, gender, height, weight, sexual orientation, place of birth, and other factors impact the lens with which we view the world. Course Length: 24 Minutes
  • Communicating with Empathy – When you seek to understand the perspective of another person, you are practicing empathy. When empathetic communication is encouraged at work, individuals feel more comfortable speaking openly, they feel like they matter, and they feel safe. Course Length: 37 Minutes
  • Body Language for Leaders – Research shows that when your verbal and nonverbal signals are out of alignment, people are forced to choose between what they hear and what they see. And subconsciously, they’ll believe your body language. Course Length: 39 Minutes
  • Leading Inclusive Teams – High-performing teams are comprised of employees who feel empowered, valued, and accepted. By taking steps to establish an inclusive team dynamic, you can positively impact both your team’s morale and your bottom line. In this course, learn how to create a shared understanding of why inclusion is important for your team, as well as revamp your own leadership and communication practices to ensure that your diverse team continues to thrive. Course Length: 1 Hour

Gale Presents: Udemy Courses: To access these courses, go to ebrpl.com and click on ‘Digital Library’ then A-Z List, and choose Gale Presents: Udemy from the list. You can also click here to go directly to Gale Presents: Udemy. The first time you access it, you will login with either a Microsoft or Gmail account, and use that same account when you return to access the courses again. Once your account has been set up you can search for the courses below:

  • A Diversity Deep-Dive, Leadership Insights and Lessons! – The Research and Evidence, on Diversity and Inclusion; Insights, Lessons, and Strategies, for Leaders and Managers. Course Length: 4 Hours
  • Unconscious Bias: Fuel Diversity and Become a Better You – Defeat unconscious bias and build diversity and inclusion into your life even if it seems impossible right now! Course Length: 2 Hours
  • Psychology of Diversity and Unconscious Bias – Understand Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination and How to Reduce Their Influence at Work and Your Community. Course Length: 2.5 Hours
  • Ally Up: Using allyship to advance diversity & inclusion – How to connect across difference and build a better, more equitable workplace and world — together. Course Length: 2 Hours
  • Leadership: Essentials for Career Development – Learn to manage and lead with diversity. Course Length: 2.5 Hours

Capital Area United Way Community Conversation Survey

Capital Area United Way’s (CAUW) Community Conversation survey is NOW LIVE! The survey can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CAUWCC2021 or by scanning the QR code in the graphic.

The purpose of this survey is to hear from citizens in the Capital area about their hopes, dreams and aspirations for the community. CAUW wants to know how we can all work together and address the community’s challenges as we continue to fight for the health, education, income stability and basic needs of their 10-Parish service area.

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, these conversations are unable to be held in person as done in the past; however, these conversations are still important in defining CAUW’s future goals and endeavors.

Your answers to the survey will direct CAUW’s funding priorities and assist them in developing new strategies – after all, where you want the dollars invested is where CAUW will turn its focus.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, this survey is more important than ever. Be a part of the conversation!

Link:

#LiveUnited

Know Your Rights: Upcoming Webinars from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services will host three free webinars to help you find out if you qualify for free legal assistance and provide you with information on topics like divorce, eviction, and domestic violence.