Dear Valued Stara Planina Properties Clients,
February in Bulgaria is the month of wine & love... or love of wine. St Trifon's day is being celebrated twice as the day of wine and vineyards. Shops on the other hand are pushing towards the St Valentine's day with windows piled with heart-shaped Chinese souvenirs. It seems the Orthodox St Trifon still prevails though.
In this newsletter we continue with the third part of the series of articles about people's experience of starting a business in Bulgaria. The present issue is dedicated to running a book shop.
Bulgarian Experiences: English Book Shop
By Karen Fox
Some things happen so naturally you have to decide that they were just meant to be...
Plans for 'The Book Cave' started when I was admiring a friend's newly converted old quarter flat, 'It even comes with its own shop' she told me. 'I need to find someone who wants it, it's very small but I think it would make a lovely bookshop'.
I've always loved to read and had already been through my books six times and swapped them with everyone I knew, the idea of an excuse to bring more reading matter to Bulgaria was almost irresistible, so off we went to look at the shop. It was very small (12 sq m) and in need of a little work, but the location, not on the high street, but just off the old art quarter seemed right for second-hand books.
The research period followed. How many books to a cardboard box? How much do they weigh? How much shelf space do they take up? How much was all this going to cost? Where could I get the books from? Initially this last question was my biggest concern, then my sister casually announced 'You do know your niece is going out with a boy whose parents are booksellers don't you?!' A few e-mails established that they could provide me with mixed boxes of good quality second-hand books at a price that began to make it look as if the whole idea could be possible. A chance contact with a man involved with exporting from Bulgaria who was looking for items to transport from the UK solved the last practical problem. We could buy books and get them to Bulgaria for a decent price where there was a space available to sell them from.
The next phase was the bit which is most anxiety provoking for Brits trying to run a business in Bulgaria; obtaining the various permissions and documents needed to make the business legal.
At the start the lady from the municipality planning department was not encouraging, 'There is no shop in that part of Opulchenska Street, there never has been'. We waved the notary deed at her and told her we'd been into the premises, 'Show me' she said, so in one of those slightly surreal Bulgarian moments we jumped in the car and did just that. 'Oh yes', she announced, 'It was a fabric shop, I think the skirt I'm wearing now came from material I bought there!'
There was no need to apply for change of use, just the documents to re-open were needed. The discovery that bookshops are exempt from hygiene regulations in Bulgaria was a real stroke of luck, with no water on the premises we'd been scratching our heads about how we would install the toilet!
The wooden wall at the back of the shop had to come out; it was ugly, damp and a fire risk. We expected to find a cliff face behind the wall and were more than a little disconcerted when we realised we'd broken into the neighbours cellar but he was very understanding about it and even offered to sell us the cellar if we wanted to make a bigger shop!
As well as native English speakers we've served Romanian, French, Italian, Scandinavian and German customers, as well as many young and not so young Bulgarians who are delighted at the chance to purchase good value English books.
Bulgaria isn't always an easy country to live or do business in, so it's great when things run smoothly. It appears we've found a product people want and can sell it for a price they find acceptable; the exchange system (bring your book back when you've read it and get 50% of the price discounted from the next book) works well for those with limited budgets or limited shelf space. I'm still waiting for the day when a book I've sold to a hosteller on his way to Istanbul is returned by another on her way to Bucharest; sooner or later it has to happen!
The address of The Book Cave is 9 Opalchenska Street (less than 50 metres from Yantra hotel and 100 meters from the Stara Planina office in Veliko Turnovo).
St Toma Holiday Club Awarded Bulgaria's Building of the Year 2008
2008 year's seventh annual award for Building of the Year was given to the Sveti Toma (Saint Thomas) holiday complex at Cape Houmata, near Arkoutino by the Black Sea. The complex also won the title of Vacation Complex of the Year, both awards coming largely due to its architectural style and ecological friendly standards.
Saint Thomas is a 5-star luxury holiday club. It is in part hotel and private residence. Owners of the apartments are able to rent out their properties through the hotel operator. There are 5 swimming pools (2 of which are infinity pools) and a small beach.
The complex has been built on a small peninsular that juts out into the sea. The area of Arcoutino and Cape of Humata is extremely picturesque with many beaches, cliffs, a forested hill and fresh-water lakes with water lilies. The unique conditions favouring rest and relaxation combined with the richly varied landscape and the surroundings provide an opportunity for a multifunctional use of the complex throughout the year.
Properties for sale in the award winning St Toma holiday club:
The British Citizens of Bulgaria's Hotnitsa Repair the Community Centre Building
The British citizens of Hotnitsa Village (near Veliko Turnovo) decided to repair themselves the local community centre. The initiative was taken by a few families which live in the village for several years. The Brits have already plastered and painted one of the halls.
The Brits have become important part of the village society and take part in all local events as well as in the amateur folk group. The decision to repair the community centre building was taken as most of the events are held there.
Apart from the repairs the Brits have undertaken to change the interior by making new curtains and table cloths. Furnishing the premisses remains the only problem and they are hoping this to be resolved by their Bulgarian neighbours.
The Pop Queen Madonna Scheduled A Concert in Bulgaria for 29 August
Madonna's first ever concert in Bulgaria has been scheduled for Saturday 29 August 2009. It will take place at Vassil Levski National Stadium in Sofia. The prices of tickets will be between 100 and 200 levs and tickets will be sold from 19 February at the National Palace of Culture, shops of Ticketpro in Sofia, in Burgas at the Sound Garden shop, in Veliko Turnovo at the Meduza shop and online at www.ticketpro.bg.
Madonna's concert is part of her Sticky & Sweet Tour which started in 2008. The pop star is expected to arrive with a team of 250 people, 3500 clothes and accessories, 36 designers, 30 containers wardrobe, 28 dancers and musicians. In other words this will be the biggest ever production in Bulgaria.
Youngster Grigor Dimitrov Played against No. 1 Nadal in Rotterdam
Bulgaria's rising tennis star Grigor Dimitrov played against the world No 1 Rafael Nadal in the second round of ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam on 12 February. Grigor lost by 5-7, 6-3, 2-6, but played excellent tennis and succeeded to score 9 aces and brake 3 times Nadal's service games. After the game Nadal predicted bright future for the Bulgarian.
Grigor won his first-round match against Tomas Berdych, No. 23 and is expected to move 100 places up in the ATP ranking. In 2008 Grigor Dimitrov, who is 17 years of age, won the junior titles at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Monthly Travel Guide
Below is a link to the Jamadvice HRG Bulgaria Monthly Travel Guide. It provides useful information as well as some interesting facts from the travel industry.