Meet Hassan Eminyawi, Owner of Urban Aftermath Books, an online book business with a warehouse in Menands and a physical shop in the City of Albany. ACE asked him about life and business during the COVID crisis,
What’s your quarantine workspace like, and is it working for you?
My workspaces are really extensions of me and my thought processes. The Bookshop is super eclectic/organic with beautiful copies of the classics, curated artworks, and other items that align with my design aesthetic. The warehouse on the other hand is literally organized chaos. We have 30,000 items in stock with each item having been carefully reviewed, graded, listed for sale, and safely filed away for purchase. This setup is working, though one thing I think would bring this business to another level is integrating the shop and warehouse into one space.
How are you coping with this new reality?
It has been difficult to stay optimistic. Our physical bookshop is currently closed. Sales are down across the board and I’d been sadly resigned to falling behind & giving up… But then again, I am reminded of one of the greatest rules of small business ownership: Innovate or Perish. So I’m doing what I can to increase online sales and offer new ways to allow people to shop our physical storefront virtually.
Have you started adapting and/or innovating your business model to operate under these conditions?
Definitely. We have refocused much of our attention to online sales and are offering customers a “literal window shopping” experience at our shop. Simply put…every item in our window is $5 and every item can be purchased remotely and picked up at the shop or shipped to your home. The display currently has an array of good books, vinyl, and vintage toys for sale, though we intend to change the selection weekly.
How have you seen the local creative community band together to support one another?
I have seen plenty of evidence of unity though I really am concerned how certain businesses (including my own) will pull through this. Many small businesses are owned by passionate people who have sacrificed a great deal to open up and do operate on a month to month basis.
Are you thinking about ways that you’ll change the way you do business in the future?
Of course, I have always attempted to incorporate the Japanese word “kaizen” into my business philosophy. Kaizen means “change for better” or continuous improvement. I intend on consolidating the business to become more agile and light footed. I am taking a serious look at our spatial footprint and hope to be able to buy a building to house both aspects of the business. Processes that can be moved to the virtual realm will be while we expand our sales channels and further develop/promote our social media presence.
Do you see any long term changes to the way people work coming out of this situation?
I believe there is going to be widespread acceptance of a work from home / remote work culture. People who own small businesses that survive are much more likely to downsize physical storefronts and continue to operate on a more virtual/grab and go/take-out/delivery basis.
Hassan, is there a piece of positivity you’d like to leave with our readers?
Small businesses are inherently unique and care tremendously about the community they reside in. I believe that given the right, internal adjustments and a healthy response from the government, many businesses will come back stronger and more versatile than ever before. This is a time for creatives to do what they do best… And for strategic planning regarding future steps.
Connect with Hassan