My grandfather owned a large and successful bookstore company. My father became was the manager of this company. Due to political reasons, my father was kicked out this family business. (He was pro-Democracy while his siblings were not). After struggling for some time, he set up his own bookstore and it became very successful. It was his pride and glory.

He is now 91 years old. His wish is that this small bookshop would last another hundred years. Currently the books in the bookshop are very old books that it published by itself. Nobody is interested in reading these books. Due to his previous excitement of getting editors and publishing books, there are thousands of books that need to be kept in storerooms. They don’t move because people hardly buy any books from this bookshop.

As none of his children were interested in looking after this bookshop, he decided to hand over the entire business to his long-time faithful manager. He promised a very desirable salary. He also would sign checks to support the manager whenever the bookshop needed money.

The bookshop loses about ten thousand dollars per month. As the bookshop is his pride and glory, he would willingly give any amount that is required to sustain it. It is his hobby and he is very passionate about it.

Since he is quite advanced in age, he plans for the bookshop as though he was living in the past. He intends to sell the bookstore’s old music gramophone records. These were likely already destroyed long ago.

He is continually drawing on the mortgage loan of his home. He did agree that if he withdrew until the limit of the loan, he would close the bookstore business.

I love him and I don’t want to close the bookshop while he is still alive, because this would hurt his feelings very badly.

Is there anything I can do now, or should I do nothing and wait?

  • 3
    Sounds like a rough situation. I'm not sure exactly what the personal finance connection is, though. Are you asking if there's a way to make the bookstore make money, or some other way to support it? As it is, it sounds like the question is sort of more interpersonal/psychological about how to manage things with regard to your father's feelings.
    – BrenBarn
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 4:43
  • Tough situation. As it stands the answers are more opinion based and there is no right answer. As worded this is more in the business space than personal finance. This would get closed out.
    – Dheer
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 5:53
  • I was thinking that this could be relevant here because it is regarding how you manage your personal finance as well as your aging parent's personal finance. So yes it sounds interpersonal/psychological. If my father stops financing the bookshop it would have to close down. Therefore this situation is about how you can help your aging parents better manage their personal finances. Due to the greying population, many people would also encounter similar problems. It may not be a bookstore or business. They may be throwing money down the drain in a different scenario.
    – tech
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 6:37
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    "Is there anything I can do now, or should I do nothing and wait?" Has he asked for your help? Have you asked him if he wants your help? Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 19:22
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    It is his money, he earned it himself. Should he not be allowed to spend it any way he wants, enjoying whatever time he might have left? Even if he spends absolute everything he has?
    – bjarkef
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 9:37

3 Answers 3


You've already counted the cost.

It will cost your family ~$10,000 per month until your father dies, or until there's no money left, to enable him to pretend that he is a successful business owner.

I'd ask him when he thinks business is going to pick up again. He may be honest with himself.

Or, ask him to consider what will happen if he outlives the money that's going out the door. Ask him if he would like to be bankrupt on top of needing to close his business.

(I don't view asking those questions as being unloving, by the way.)


If this was going on in the UK, I would try to get a mental capacity assessment done on the father.

There are laws that stop you taking advantage of people that don’t understand what is going on; these laws could be used against the manager, but only if you can clearly prove that the father does not understand that the “business” is losing money.

If the father does understand what is going on, then there is nothing you can do, as he has every right to waste his money, and anyone that may inherit what is left has no rights until he is dead.


How about opening a Coffee shop section in the bookshop to generate some cash flow per month to offset some of the expenses ?

Off course success of this venture will depend on where the location of shop is, how big it is and whether people are coffee enthusiast in that region. Since the rent/mortgage ( the major expense) is already taken care of all you have to do is invest in one time expenses for :

  • Interior (hip these days - rustic expose brick walls, nostalgic filament light, chalk board menu, etc ) rustic

  • Seating (big communal table, lounge couch, some regular table chairs,some out door seats if weather is good)

  • Great coffee machine (synesso, slayer)
  • Great Barrista who can make awesome

...and the ugly licencing and approval. Throw in some social media marketing, SEO, yelp,urbanspoon, tripadvisor, etc

If the bookstore is old, I am assuming it might have the old world charm & character which could attract lot of coffee enthusiast. The unique and competitive edge of this coffee shop could be its historic charm , which no other competitor can achieve. Would definitely beat the staryuks.

Even if no one shows up , only recurring additional expense will be barrista wages. The interior , seating and coffee m/c costs can be minimized by savvily shopping stuff on community sites like craigslist, gumtree etc. I beleive if you are in US , everything could be set up under 6K. Later on premade food items like bananacake, raw cacao balls, toasted panini sandwich etc. can be added.
If one has 3 key ingredients in food industry - Location, Vibe and taste, then there is high probability that they will succeed.
At the same time one should be cognizant that 95 % of business fail in first 3 years and therefore they should have an exit plan. Unfortunately if your business does not work, then you exit cost would be just getting rid of the equipment & furniture. Just to put in perspective, some Dunkin Donut shops that I was researching in North East were clearing between 1/2 to 1 mil per year.

As it is the current damage per month is 10k, if this business offsets even some of the damage it would be worth while. So the cost of keeping the pride of 91 yo dad can potentially reduce from 10k to 2-3 k. Who knows if it takes off , one day it could be a good sustainable business and might turn into a win-win situation for you and your father.

I have made lot of assumption without knowing the facts like- you are located in US, you have risk appetite, bookshop is not in industrial area but some prime retail area like this :

... etc.

While I am at it { giving unsolicited advise that is}..

Currently the books in the bookshop are very old books that it published by itself. Nobody is interested in reading these books. Due to his previous excitement of getting editors and publishing books, there are thousands of books that need to be kept in storerooms. They don’t move because people hardly buy any books from this bookshop.

To help the old published book sales why not convert the old books to ebooks using providers like 'Blueleaf-book-scanning' and publish the books on amazon kindle,itunes & play store. The books will be available online forever and they might get exposure to tons of book enthusiast around the world. I heard at one of our client's MDS ( mass digitization system ) project , they had in-house robot scanning machine like Treventus

Pardon me if none of the above gibberish applies to your situation , but hpefully SE community might have some fun reading this for kicks and giggles .

Cheers and good luck.

Source: I am US person in Australia, operated restaurant / bar in US , visited 100's of coffee shops, consulting for living, ...and a dreamer { :-) hard not to imagine from the short post}.

  • 1
    Upvoved because finding a way to make the hobby less expensive is probably a better bet than trying to convince him to relinquish a dream. Kinder and more effective. I'm not sure thos is the best way to support the bookstore, but it isn't the worst either. Heck, the Traveler's Rest used bookstore/restaurant is arguably just such a case of two businesses supporting (and generating sales for) each other under one roof and one ownership.
    – keshlam
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 13:57
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    The picture above is of "Shakespeare and Company" in Paris. This is perhaps the most famous English language bookstore in the world because of it's association with Hemingway, Pound, Joyce, etc, and it's depiction in movies like "Before Sunset". I think it's a bit disingenuous to use this as an example of a successful bookstore even for kicks and giggles. Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 22:36

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