2018 SCORE Small Business Owner of the Year awarded to Eight Cousins Bookstore
The owners of Eight Cousins Bookstore were recognized as the 2018 "Small Business Owner of the Year" by Cape Cod & the Islands SCORE
Your local family bookshop, Eight Cousins, opened in 1986 under owner Carol Chittenden. In 2012 Sara Hines joined Eight Cousins as the Publicity and Program Manager. Sara came to Eight Cousins with a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and multiple master’s degrees in Children’s Literature as well as European Culture. Sara’s dream had always been to own her own bookstore. That dream became a reality in 2013 when Carol Chittenden informed Sara that she was going to retire and encouraged her to buy the bookstore. That’s when Sara came to SCORE following her completion of the Successful Small Business Workshop.
Sara worked with SCORE counselors to help her understand how she could assess the value of the business and then finance the purchase (after all, she was a recent graduate with significant college loans). After exploring numerous options, she was able to identify two individuals who were interested in investing to help her ensure the continuation of Eight Cousins. MaryFran Buckley (another Eight Cousins employee) and Eileen Miskell, who owns The Wood Lumber Company in Falmouth with her husband partnered with Sara to acquire the store.
In January 2015 Eight Cousins was officially acquired by the trio. At that point, the company was profitable but facing financial, marketing, and management issues that had to be addressed by the new ownership team. Sara looked to SCORE for assistance with these issues and established a relationship that continues to this day.
Since 2015, dealing primarily with Sara, SCORE mentors Jean Mojo and Michael Baker have seen Eight Cousins maintain profitability while making significant improvements in the following areas:
• Revenues have increased annually as a result of improved marketing
• Extensive mentoring has enabled the ownership team to very clearly define management roles and establish strong communication between the partners
• Observing the decline in bookstores, they expanded their focus on adult books, broadening their target audience to provide all readers with a full and current selection of books.
• Improved purchasing patterns have improved inventory levels while reducing the dollars tied up in inventory
• The financial reporting system has been improved, resulting in accurate and timely statements. Mentors worked with Sara to help her understand how to use financial information for both day-to-day management and long-range planning, including cash flow projections.
Importantly, the partners have carefully maintained and enhanced Eight Cousins' reputation as an important community member. Known for its highly engaging arched windows the store welcomes its small customers with the famous Alphabet Throne. They regularly provide their customers with author events and signings including bestselling authors such as E. Lockhart and even “new” authors such as Chelsea Clinton who attracted over 650 people to meet her and purchase a signed copy of her bestselling book, “She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World.” Their annual Giving Tree provided books and toys to over 500 kids in Falmouth in 2017. Supporting No Place For Hate Falmouth, a local organization focused on building bridges and combating bias through advocacy and education, Eight Cousins is one of several local outlets where lapel pins can be purchased.
Eight Cousins is also highly respected throughout the industry. In 2017 they were selected to be part of the well-known #Literaticast holiday podcast, with selections from their Holiday Picks 2017 list. And finally, Sara Hines was one of 300 independent booksellers selected to receive a grant from renowned author James Patterson as part of his Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program.