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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.

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

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

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

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