Career advice from the owner of NYC’s Yu and Me Books
Lucy Yu, 27 years old is currently in her second profession and living her dream. retirement goal. Yu and Me Books in New York City is owned by her. first Asian American woman-owned bookstoreIt is located in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
Yu is a chemical engineering graduate and has worked until recent as a supply-chain manager in a food company. In 2021, however, spurred by burnout and finding solace in books, she decided to pursue a lifelong “pipe dream” of opening a bookstore — one that featured works from Asian Americans, authors of color, immigrants and people from marginalized communities.
She was drinking wine one night and Googled “How to Run a Bookstore” within hours. Within hours, she had a plan. GoFundMe helped her raise nearly $16,000 and she poured all her savings into rent and overhead expenses, as well as the start of her inventory.
Yu and Me Books had opened their doors to the public by December. Yu also quit her full-time job in order to run the bookstore. She says, “I took one shot and hoped for the best.”
Yu shared her top books and lessons learned with CNBC Make It.
It’s inevitable that I will make mistakes. I know that. It was a huge learning curve for me, and it is essential to maintain a viable business. It is easy to dwell on the little things and not the bigger things. Mistakes will happen. This is an important life skill. I have learned to be more flexible and accept what comes my way.
Some days I feel completely lost in what I do. My experience is very limited. It’s not something I’ve ever done. It’s also my first experience owning a business, particularly a bookstore. Sometimes I feel really down.
My friends have been there for me and told me to look at the results of Google searches. When I was down, they have lifted me up.
Prepare, but don’t let it stop you from taking a leap of faith. According to my last manager, I needed to be more open to the possibility of ambiguity. I was grateful for that advice. It’s impossible to predict all things.
When I was creating my business plan, a few bookstores offered guidance. Noelle Santos from the Lit. Bar in Bronx. I had a few questions for her about business insurance. She immediately responded with a friendly smile and “If you ever have any other questions, please let me know.”
Emma Straub, Books Are Magic Brooklyn, reached out to me early in my GoFundMe campaign. On my initial day, she arrived with her family. She owns a bookstore — she doesn’t need books from a different bookstore! The amount of support she gave me was beyond my expectations.
The community of Chinatown is amazing. The community in Chinatown is my favorite place to call home. Each shop owner is there for their customers. Ich werde zu Uncle LouThe new Cantonese restaurant ” during the day. Wilson Tang (owner of Nom Wah Tea Parlor) comes with his children every day. And all the community organizers of groups like Welcome to Chinatown and Send Chinatown Love — the way they show up for each other throughout the community is something I’ve really never seen before.
The store will be able to reach more people, I believe. New York’s community hosts book clubs and makes it more community-oriented. We will be open late on weekends so people have somewhere to hang out.
I can’t even think about it for more than two weeks. That is not great news for any business owner. Because of all the uncertainty in everything that has happened over the last three decades, I don’t think you can really forecast anything. If I make it through two weeks and have a positive experience, it will be worth it. I’ll do it again in two weeks.
There are approximately 1,700 titles in my collection. I also handpick them all myself.
Many books are available for me to read. Bookstagram. These book Instagrammers do amazing work, presenting books that may not be on the most popular lists. It’s a topic I love to spend lots of time researching. StoryGraphAmazon doesn’t own the app, but it does have a great recommendation system called. Every week, I invest a lot time in researching and making my lists.