Chattanooga natives hope to beat odds with their bookstore through crowdsourcing, community

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Blaes Green, Sarah Jackson, Emily Lilley, and her dog Bertie (middle) pose for a portrait on Monday, June 28, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The difficulties of running an independent bookstore aren't lost on avid readers Blaes Green, Sarah Jackson and Emily Lilley. From upfront costs to the dominance of Amazon and other large chain booksellers, local business owners across the nation have taken a hit in recent years.

But the possibility of building community and giving locals a place to love and buy new books inspires the former classmates as they work to open a bookshop in North Chattanooga called The Book & Cover.

"We spent the first nine months of this planning process just on learning finances, talking to bookshops in the Southeast who have similar geographical and community like we do and seeing what they do to work," said Green, who works in customer service and project management.

As native Chattanoogans who grew up in the city and went to Girls Preparatory School together, the women want to bring the transformational power of stories and their love of reading fostered as kids to their home community.

"We're