Shari Graham, a tax accountant, retired in 2012.
“One of these days, I am going to take a day off,” she said earlier this month. “I have plans to take a nap. It might be in March,” she said with a laugh.
During the past few years, Graham has been busy. She has been traveling, reading and being involved with the Prescott Center for the Arts. Now she is opening a bookshop, The Purple Cat A Good Used Book Store.
It may seem like a chancy proposition to open a bookstore as hardbound books seemingly become passé. Maybe not.
“Amazon opened a retail book store in Seattle recently,” she said. “And used books are especially in demand these days.”
Besides, she recognizes a good business opportunity when she sees one.
Right next door to her new bookshop was a bookstore at which she worked for a year. The owner wanted to move the store out to Prescott Valley.
Graham said she did not think it was such a good idea to move the store because it had been in place for years and it had a good customer base.
“People have been used to having a book shop in this location,” she said. “Certainly, people are going to return to the location and expect a book shop.”
“I sat there and thought about it for a while and decided this was a good business opportunity,” Graham said. ”I decided to open my very own shop. It is not connected with the former shop. I did not buy it. I am not taking over. It’s a totally new shop.”
The idea for the quirky name for the shop came to Graham while driving on a chilly, rainy afternoon when she told herself, “This is a good day to curl up in a chair with a good book and a cat.”
At the time, she was wearing a purple sweater. Later in the day she saw clip art of a purple cat.
“The logo of the cat makes me smile.”
The shop is a cozy 800 square feet.
“It’s not a huge shop. It’s a whimsy. It’s friendly and has a very good feel to it. The bookshelves in the center are on the diagonal so it looks different the second you walk in.”
The store also carries book accessories like bookmarks, attractive book bags, bookends, audio books and book lights that she says are hard to find.
Sharon Petz, who will be working part time at the shop, says she is really excited about working there.
“It’s just an ideal part-time job for me. The bookstore has a lot of personality. It just puts a smile on my face to walk in and see it and get to know the customers. It is welcoming and cheerful,” she said.
Her clientele include “active, retired interesting people who are interested in all kinds of things,” Graham said.
“Taking empty space and transforming it into a beautiful little shop has taken three months of solid effort and I have had some fantastic help,” she said.
Some of the help appeared magically out of nowhere and some in the form of neighbors and friends. She says putting the shop together has been fun and she has really enjoyed working there.
A native of Kansas, she found herself in Arizona because her husband was in the U.S. Air Force. She says it was love at first sight for her for Prescott in 1995.
Graham has three grown children and three grandchildren.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a business?
“Talk to someone who has already done it. You could ask them what the advantages and disadvantages are, and what they would do differently.”
What do you consider the most important character trait for small business owners?
“Enthusiasm and perseverance. It’s almost equal doses of each.”
Where is your favorite place to travel?
“Italy because of the food and Michelangelo’s art and sculptures.
When was the last time you laughed really hard?
‘‘Probably yesterday. I laugh a lot.”
What is your favorite book?
“That’s hard. You would think I would know one wouldn’t you?”
The Purple Cat is located at 3180 Willow Creek Road in the Fry’s Willow Creek Shopping Center across from Jack-In-The-Box. For more information, call 928-776-0116 or visit the purplecatz.com.
By Patty McCormac