Mosaic Books isn’t a new story to anyone. It’s not like this independent bookstore popped out of nowhere.
Its doors opened in 1968 and has been serving the Okanagan Valley ever since.
I stopped in the other day to visit my friend Trevor Neill, a son, manager and owner who filled me in on the history and some less well-known features of the store.
The Neill’s—Mosaic’s current proprietors—have owned it since the mid 1990s, but the store itself has been family-owned since its inception.
While we love all of these facts (it is, in fact, one of the main reasons we started AwesomeOkanagan.com) this isn’t entirely a story about a bookstore from downtown Kelowna. No, this is a story about a family and a 23-year-old software company that lives upstairs of the bookstore.
BookManager, said software company, is Canada’s largest point-of-sale (POS) data solution company, serving 460 independent businesses and published in the Capital News every Friday. The focus is completely on independents, you won’t find this sort of data at Chapters or Barnes & Noble.
Beating out rival software companies from markets 10 times larger (such as ones out of the States), this project is a labour of love headed by store owner and software president Michael Neill.
Michael Neill has worked his whole life to build relations in the wavering book industry, putting in his time and efforts to keeping this industry alive. In fact, he’s built such a reputation out of sharing and being hospitable that other store owners will seek him out and ask his advice before adopting a new business model or to see what the latest trends are in the industry.
Working in a bookstore, as well as being the president of one of the industry’s best databases, really allows them to help other independent businesses start up all over the country. Being able to build a store from the ground by sharing that knowledge, providing all POS needs and making sure owners have an up-to-date database means other bookstore entrepreneurs can spend less time guessing, and more time helping their customers.
The Neill family lives by the phrase “united we stand, divided we fall,” acknowledging that it’s a cliché but that clichés become such because they’re true.
“We used the store as a guinea pig,” Trevor points out. “This is huge because we build the Canadian best-seller list.”
He goes on to put it into perspective: “The Toronto Star…their best-seller list is complied from our data, because all that data is compiled from independents.”
Other useful data that comes out of it is which books are popular right now, allowing other companies to catch up without losing valuable time guessing what their clients’ needs are.
The Okanagan is starting to gain more recognition in the hardware and software world as more and more start-ups here make ripples in the pond worldwide.
It goes to show you; sometimes the best business structures are in place from birth.
Brandon W. Fletcher is the managing editor of AwesomeOkanagan.com.