HERMITAGE, Pa. – Since 2012, Leana and Vince Hillard have built their business while learning valuable lessons.
First, the co-owners of Leana’s Books and More, based in Hermitage, Pa., realized there was a need for a bookstore. They had been selling books at Four Seasons Flea Market in Youngstown.
Over the last decade, the Hillards have expanded to operate three bookstores: in Hermitage, Grove City, Pa., and Austintown. Leana’s Books is eastern Ohio’s and western Pennsylvania’s “only full-service, independently owned bookstore,” according to Vince Hillard.
The Hermitage store opened in March 2012, with the other two locations following, he says. The move led to Leana’s Books and More leaving the flea market.
It’s the Hillards’ goal that books are priced at “affordable prices for our community,” he says.
Hillard and his wife “strongly believe that reading is a valuable part of our children’s education.”
As they built their business, the Hillards learned they could comfortably juggle work and life while providing a service to the area through the bookstores.
“We can balance the highs and lows of both businesses to make everything work,” Hillard says.
The couple has six children who helped out in the stores as the business expanded. There are now 18 employees who help “keep the stores running,” he says.
Another lesson learned was about finances.
While the Hillards have “re-invested most of our profits back into the business,” it wasn’t smooth sailing in the beginning, he says.
“Early on, we almost went out of business because we did not pay attention to our cash flow,” Hillard says.
They recommend that family business owners “understand cash flow,” and how much of an impact that plays in success. Once they did, the Hillards established a groove that enabled growth. Now they are planning for the Austintown location to become their “hub” store.
“It’s a valuable lesson to learn – to always be thinking ahead,” Hillard says.
Pictured at top: Leana and Vince Hillard operate three bookstores.