We had the good fortune of connecting with Veronica Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Veronica, do you have a budget? how do you think about personal finances?
I do have a business budget. My spouse and I have had some sort of money plan for our personal finances since the beginning of our marriage so it was just natural to me to have one for the business. A budget is just having a plan for your money before you get the money. Sometimes the plan changes, but I try and decide on the change before spending the money.

I make sure that any first monies that come into the business for the month go towards my immediate obligations first- rent, insurance, utilities, etc. The second most important thing I spend money on is books! We have a small, but growing, new book section that focuses on Latinx authors and stories- we spend a good percentage on purchasing those titles for the shop. A smaller bit goes towards merchandise and the occasional book hunt for great condition secondhand titles.

I am also saving a little bit every month for larger and less often expenses like repairs on the shop, new furniture, website fees ad such. I make sure to add things to the budget as new expenses come up, especially when they are going to be regular expenses. I’m also saving for future continuing education opportunities. That bit is super important to me, I want to learn as much as I can from as many seasoned and other new booksellers. Going to conferences and taking classes has already taught me so much that I am excited to learn more and more but those opportunities cost money.

I use software that lets me allocate money, as we get it, into different categories to be spent. If I have money in a particular category, I don’t feel much guilt about spending the money. Sometimes I have to move money around, but I work really hard to check our business budget before spending though. It’s the same in my personal finances. If I have money in our eating out budget, then we eat out. No money in the entertainment budget, but lots in the clothing fund and no one needs new clothes at the moment, then we move some clothes money to entertainment so we can go watch a movie. But we always make sure those real expenses are covered before even putting money in other pots.

Growing up I wasn’t taught much about budgets and money, but as an adult I love them. I know some people think of budgets as restrictions, but I really think they can be freeing. They really do free you up to say yes to stuff you might feel guilty of buying otherwise in both your personal life and in business. Everyone’s budget is going to be different depending on what your priorities are- maybe “coffee is life” and you have a coffee budget. You’d fund that before some other specialty budget category. As long as essentials are covered your other budget lines are yours to decide.

One of my priorities for my business is to make sure the bookshop looks cute, cozy, and inviting- so I have a budget category specifically for buying (and replacing as needed) cute, cozy, and inviting items and decor. Every time I allocate money, I make sure to throw some money in that pot and when I want to buy something I check to make sure I have the money, then I buy it. No money? I throw more money in there until I can afford it- like I said earlier sometimes that’s by moving money from one category to another or it’s waiting until I have more money.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Libros Bookmobile has been a lifetime in the making. I’ve always been a bookworm and I’ve always been surrounded by books. Having my own secondhand bookstore has always been a dream of mine- I imagine being a little old lady in my store surrounded by stacks of books and helping people find a book they have been looking for for a while or a new title they are excited to delve into. That just sounds like an amazing life to me. I’m also super passionate about making books more accessible and affordable but also making sure that just because a book is secondhand, or used, it doesn’t mean it’s in bad condition. I am first and foremost a reader and lover of books who wants to build bookish community, and I hope that comes across to everyone who comes through the shop.

Our shop is new, we’ve only been at our current location for just about 2 months now, and we’ve only been a business for about 10 months. If I’m being honest, it has not been easy at all. Some days everything seems harder than it needs to be. And the bookstore is only where it is as a business because I have yet to give up. I cry, and vent to my husband and friends, take a break, and continue. I can’t be that little old lady with a used bookstore if I give up on the bookstore now.

I’m naturally an introvert and don’t like to call attention to myself- but I’ve learned that sometimes, especially when dealing with business, you have to be the squeaky wheel. I will call people everyday if needed, send emails, straight up bug people when I need something done.

I’ve also learned, and I don’t think this is the same in most industries, that independent booksellers are very supportive of one another. Booksellers and bookstore owners want to help, they want to teach you about the industry, they want to share resources and I love that.

The most important lesson I’ve learned while starting Libros Bookmobile is that I can only be me and that I have to be true to myself. When you walk into my store you are walking into a store that is 100% me. I am colorful and a proud Latina bookworm and that is very much reflected in the bookstore. I’m not a sales person, I’m a book person who is very proud of her culture and just wants to share books and introduce you to Latinx authors from time to time.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When family and friends come into town I bring them to the property we are located at. The bookstore is located in Taylor, Tx at Old Taylor High, which is an old school that has been turned into the most amazing location for hanging out. We would start the day out at Drip cafe with a delicious cold brew coffee and then head over to Wilco Art Lab to use some of their equipment to create something. I’m sure we would spend hours there playing with all the supplies. For lunch we would head down to grab a sandwich at Mallard Fare Deli and some nitrogen ice cream at Chemistry Lab. We would, at some point, shop at the clothing stores- Sweet Pickins and Divine Bella Barn. On Friday night, we’d probably grab tacos at Rolando’s Taco truck and then hang out at The Loose Screw Bar. A whole day could be spent at The Hang Out Pinball Lounge.

Off campus but still pretty close we’d go to the other bookstore in town, Curio Mrvosa. Where we primarily do secondhand fiction and new/secondhand Latinx authors and stories, they do vintage, collectibles, and novelties. We both do new and used but in our own ways so you have to check out both bookstores for the best bookish day.

We’d visit Hayley’s Grains, and grab a bite at Good Strangers, and visit Alchemy clothing store, too.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Libros Bookmobile might be my bookstore, but it is very much a family success story. From my sisters that I’m constantly bouncing ideas off of, my parents who travel from out of state to help at the store or to watch my kiddos so we can participate in special events, and to my brothers who give me sales advice because they are the real business/sales people in the family. Everyone has literally helped build the store itself in one way or another from taking seats, flooring, and heaters out of the bus, to scrubbing the inside and outside to make it look habitable, to helping me decorate, to funding my first expenses- it has been all hands on bus from day 1. Even my 2 kids who do a little bit of everything around the shop and are my most frequent visitors, especially my son who tells everyone he meets about the store and then tells them they need to shop there.

Of course my number 1 supporter and motivator is my husband, Joshua, who when I told him I was thinking about “opening my bookstore’ again was like “okay, yeah, do it” as if it was no big deal to start this endeavor and then we just did it. He found the bus and is my main handyman, and will bring me cold drinks when I forget my water that day. He finds solutions when I need them and is getting better about just listening when I need him to just listen (there isn’t always a solution to be found).

Website: LibrosBookmobile.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/libros_bookmobile/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LibrosBookmobile

Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@librosbookmobile?

Image Credits
Chelsea Croissant, Pat Budd, Susan Garza

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.