New bookstore owners plan for post-pandemic future

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New bookstore owners plan for post-pandemic future

Sun, 03/21/2021 - 12:04pm -- tim

by Amanda Kuhnert About six months into the pandemic, Katya d’Angelo and Chris Triolo purchased a brick-and-mortar business right around the corner from where they live in downtown Waterbury. The two are known around town for their ice-cream tricycle, The Udder Guys—a side business to their day jobs in marketing and computer programming.

But since the purchase of Bridgeside Books in October, the couple are now full-time entrepreneurs.

Triolo and d’Angelo relocated to Waterbury from the Boston area five years ago. They had plans to start a business, so when they heard the bookstore was for sale, they immediately jumped on the opportunity.

Photo: Chris Triolo and Katya d’Angelo, co-owners of Bridgeside Books. Courtesy photo.

But they didn’t go it alone. Triolo attended a number of events put on by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and other organizations like SCORE.

“We were directed to the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) at one of those events and then met Charley,” Triolo said. “We completely changed our valuation and forecasting models after conversations with Charley at VtSBDC. He really helped tremendously before and after the sale.”

Charley Ininger opened several businesses before becoming a VtSBDC business advisor in 2011.

“Our experience with VtSBDC was absolutely what we needed when we needed it,” Triolo said. “The guidance provided was thoughtful, targeted to our business, and most of all relevant to our unique situation. We couldn't have asked for a better partner while starting out this new adventure in business.”

Triolo also worked with Steve Dobrin, a financial consultant to VtSBDC, who helped him get organized in QuickBooks, work through cash flow forecasts, and purchase a new point-of-sale system. “Steve is very accessible and knowledgeable on a variety of financial topics and has been a great resource as we get further into our new business venture," Triolo said. 

Looking beyond COVID-19

Prior to the purchase, the bookshop had been operating for several months under COVID-19 protocols—hand sanitizing, masking, and limited occupancy.

The new owners kept these precautions in place, while simultaneously planning for a post-pandemic future.

“We purchased an existing business that had been in the same location for 11 years,” Triolo explained. “They downsized when COVID hit, and we decided to take over the entire space, which more than doubled the square footage that was originally offered in the sale. This was a great move on our part as we plan for the future when events and other live, in-person activities can take place in our store.”

Along with more room for books, the additional space has allowed the couple to expand their selection of at-home activities.

“We have offered more options for things to do in your household during COVID, such as we increased our puzzle, tea, and board game selections,” Triolo said.

Triolo and d’Angelo’s new take on this anchor business in Waterbury village has been enthusiastically embraced by the community.

“The town has really rallied around us and helped make our time so far a wonderful success,” Triolo said.

Bridgeside Books is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm. More info: bridgesidebooks.com.

Success story by Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC). We Know Business. Find an advisor near you. View our training workshops. Visit:  www.vtsbdc.org