New Owner, New Chapter
Hearthside Books has been serving the Juneau community for 48 years. Originally opened in 1975, this local bookstore has evolved into two locations in the Nugget Mall and downtown in the Merchant’s Wharf. As a longstanding independent bookseller, their locations offer books, toys, gifts, and host community events, including ongoing events for children’s literacy, an upcoming Spanish language conversation group, toy and game demonstrations, and continued support for Alaska authors and artists. Hearthside Books places a high importance in promoting local Alaskan writers through author signing media events, as well as local Alaskan artists through their selection of art cards for sale.
As a new owner of this long-cherished business, Olga Lijo Serans plans to participate in Juneau’s First Friday Art Walks, host live music events, and facilitate language learning and retention programs. Because of the historical community support for Hearthside Books, she plans on running it with the local community in mind. “I decided that such a community-centered business that had been operating uninterruptedly for almost 50 years needed to stay in the community,” said Olga Lijo Serans.
Olga first approached the Alaska SBDC during the Summer of 2022 to learn about financing options in order to purchase Hearthside Books. She worked with her SBDC Business Advisor, KellyAnn Cavaretta, on loan preparedness and lender requirements, ensuring an organized, timely, and less confusing sale transfer. After months of hard work and dedication, Olga was finally able to call this business her own in late October 2022.
“Although I had worked in private business in the past, my knowledge of private business management was very limited. KellyAnn was invaluable in helping me navigate the bureaucratic process during the purchase. She was always happy to help me untangle what steps I needed to complete and in which order,” said Olga Lijo Serans.
Hearthside Books, under the new ownership, plans to continue their engagement with the African Library Project. Through Winter 2023, they will be collecting 1000 elementary aged books in good condition to be sent to a school in Malawi.