Celebrating Bhutan's Entrepreneurs: Kunzang Choki Of Junction Bookstore, Thimphu

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This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

(Source: Yeewong Magazine)

 

By Staff Reporter | Yeewong Magazine

Known as Mui to her friends, Kunzang Choki owns Junction – a small independent bookstore in Thimphu. With its ‘cluttered’ aesthetic, the bookstore is designed to encourage people to spend some time in the company of books.

If you are not in the mood to read, you can also engage in conversations with like-minded people or simply sip on a hot ‘cuppa’ in a cosy corner upstairs.

When the weather is cold, Junction Bookstore is also an ideal place to finish a juicy chapter while nestling in a warm and homely space in the capital city of Bhutan.

What inspired Mui to start Junction Bookstore

Mui was inspired to start Junction by the many independent bookstores that have established themselves as homes for bookworms to read, meet and communicate, as well as the opportunities to create a literary community.

 

Photo: Facebook/Junction Bookstore

 

Back then, places like these were uncommon in Thimphu. With that in mind, coupled with a love for books, Mui fulfilled her long cherished dream of starting a bookstore.

About Junction’s Thursday Book Club

This literary space also gave her a chance to realise another ambition – to form Junction’s Thursday Book Club, with the encouragement and help of her friends and customers.

Till date, Mui’s bookstore has organised several memorable events such as a few original exhibitions and interactive creative events.

 

Deliberately Framed 2016: Scenes from a Poetic Stew explained in a simple manner through a poetry-photography mini-exhibition. Poetry uses imagery (visual and non-visual) to reach out to readers.

Source: Facebook/Junction Bookstore 

 

As time goes on, the membership has invariably changed throughout the years yet the club itself remains. Customers will nearly always bump into a member at the counter who are ever so willing to help locate or recommend a book.

Some challenges faced

However, in the recent years, her business venture faced some headwinds with the increasing access to audio and e-books online, and her existing pool of readers are not purchasing as many books as before. Thus, owning a physical book is becoming more of a novelty.

 

Jamba Chuki Tashi, an avid young reader from Bhutan.

Photo: Facebook/Junction Bookstore

 

In addition, logistics have always been an issue for her due to the distance between the distributor and retailer.

Moreover, finding enthusiastic readers to staff her bookstore rather than just someone who is simply a sales assistant to sit at the counter to attend to customers is also another issue.

Running a business may be tough but Mui’s story shows that the results are worth the challenges. In the years since the beginning, Mui has learned through trial and error the ins and outs of running a business.

Meet the ‘eclectic personalities’ who hang out at Junction

To her, the greatest achievement is the creation of a community of ‘eclectic personalities’ within Junction.

 

The Junctionians! — with Upasana DahalDechen Wangmo DorjiKelzang DorjeeManny FassihiAriel Lebowitz and Dipika Chhetri.

Photo: Facebook/Sonam Chophel‎/Junction Bookstore

 

This interesting melting pot of characters is not only a welcoming presence but it inevitably drew more people in.

More often than not, they find themselves discussing their lives, aspirations and hopes for the future with Mui. She always encourage people to pursue their passion and not to be disheartened by their first few tumbles.

“Wait till the 5 year mark, and don’t lose hope if the first year did not meet your expectations. Remember to always work your hardest, keep your goals in mind and be consistent. Lastly and most importantly, don’t give up!”

 

This article first appeared in Yeewong Magazine and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


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