Thursday, December 1 2022

In the age of TikTok and shortened attention spans, a teenager goes against the stereotype by running a bookstore.

Pari Rao, 15, has opened a second-hand bookshop in Palmerston North. She says she is passionate about getting teenagers to read.
Photo: RNZ/Jimmy Ellingham

Pari Rao, 15, has spent months preparing her thrift store to open its doors this week in Palmerston North.

A voracious reader, she is passionate about others discovering the joy of print.

Thus, Olive Books, in the city’s artistic hub, Square Edge, was born.

“Early April, we were watching this TV show about this guy who owns a bookstore. I was like, ‘I want to do this,'” Pari said.

“I told mum about it and she was like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’

The opening of the shop this week is good for the school holidays.

The past few weeks have been busy with school exams and sorting out the 1,500 books in storage.

Pari chose to open a flea market to avoid waste and encourage people to recycle their books.

“By having a used bookstore instead of having these old books to throw away, you kind of give them new life and say, ‘well, there’s nothing wrong with this book, so why am I not reading it? and someone else has read it too.'”

Pari and her friends are big readers, but she said many teenagers think books are a chore they have to look at in school.

“One of the main goals of the store is to re-establish the fact that reading is not a chore. Probably young people don’t read as much as they used to, but they sure could if they had the chance. , and they would do it again.”

Due to her age, Pari needed the help of her mother, Vasudha Rao, with some aspects of setting up the business.

“I’ve known since she was little that she has a mind of her own,” Vasudha said of her daughter.

“If she wants to do something, she goes ahead and does it.

“I’m just the sidekick for this one. I’m just the adult, signature person. That’s really all her.”

When classes at Palmerston North Girls’ High School resume, Pari plans to work in her shop after school and on weekends, with her grandfather Prasada there during the day and Vasudha also helping her when she does. can.

Vasudha has worked for publishing houses and said the books belong to the family.

“My dad was selling books. When he was 15, he was selling books written by his dad, traveling all over India, so it’s really cool, kind of come full circle.”

Pari said she didn’t expect to make a profit in the store’s first year, but starting a business hadn’t been an expensive undertaking.

She received donations of books and furniture – although she was looking for more bookshelves, a grant and crowdfunding.

“You’d be surprised how much you actually need to start a new business. It’s probably not as much as you imagine.

“If you do a Google search, you’d think over $40,000, but I really think we’ve managed to keep the costs below $2,000.”

Pari plans to keep prices low – with buying and selling – as the idea is to get the books in front of as many eyes as possible.

And there are some attractive volumes on the shelves to catch the attention of customers at the nearby cafe, from teenage fiction to Shakespeare and even the acclaimed biography of Charles Upham Mark of the Lion.

Pari said she’s happy people just walk in and read a volume off the shelves – her favorites are the classics and World War II books.


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