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Reading A Market

This bookseller figured out how to survive in the land of the giants: Find a niche and hit it hard.

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This story appears in the July 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The war was raging on between retail superstore book chains and the nation's small, independent booksellers. And though they waged valiant battles to survive, most independents were dropping like flies. In reality, it was hardly a battle at all. The out-gunned independents were posing no contest for the superstores' massive power to offer large-volume savings and huge selections of book titles to their customers. But buoyed by a sense of mission, entrepreneur Sherry McGee was unfazed by the odds--and in 1996, she dove headfirst into the fray.

McGee, 41, is the founder of Apple Book Center, an upscale, multicultural bookstore that has charmed residents of Detroit. McGee and her loyal customers agree it's more than a bookstore. Apple Book Center is a widely heralded neighborhood hangout where multiple generations form a base of repeat customers--and whose second-year sales rang in at $1 million plus.

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