Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Pro Books and Beyond - serving Duhaney Park

Published:Tuesday | February 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Kerry-Ann Ennis of Pro Books and Beyond (right) talks with Thelma Yong, Deputy General Manager, JN Small Business Loans about the books available for basic schools students in the community.
Dwight Lindsay(right) of Pro Books and Beyond shows Gillian Hyde, General Manager JN Small Business Loans some of the text books sold at his store in Duhaney Park, St. Andrew.

Pro Books and Beyond is a business which does more than maximise profits, it contributes to enhancing people's lives.

A decade ago, Dwight Lindsay and his partner, Kerry-Ann Ennis, opened their bookstore in response to the need for affordable books in their Duhaney Park community in St Andrew. Since then, the business has expanded from simply being a bookstore to one which serves as an instrument for community development.

"My partner and I did our research and found that residents in our area needed a bookstore closer to their homes," Lindsay said. "There are several basic and primary schools and a high school in the community; hence, our venture had the potential to benefit parents who needed other services as well."

Ennis, a teacher at George Headley Primary School, said she realised that many parents were challenged finding hard-to-get textbooks, which were often expensive. Therefore, through our research, we were able to address some of those problems."

In addition to sourcing hard-to-get textbooks at the best prices, Pro Books and Beyond also partnered with one church in the community to assist needy students.

Ennis explained: "We established a relationship with the Duhaney Park Gospel Assembly, and the students sent to us by the church are sold textbooks and back-to-school items at a reduced cost. We also donated books to basic schools in the wider Duhaney Park community."

Other support services in the community included erecting a guardroom at the George Headley Primary School, and assisting with repairs to the building at the Duhaney Park Primary School.

Lindsay said that it was his close relationship with residents in the Duhaney Park which initially germinated the idea for Pro Books and Beyond. He was involved in transporting children to and from school, and both he and Ennis wanted employment options during the long summer break from school.

"We looked around and saw where we could support the need for books," he said.

And, as a result, their innovative approach to the book business also led them to begin supplying school uniforms for students in the community.

"People came in and asked if we sold uniforms, therefore, we established that there was a demand," Lindsay explained. "We sourced the fabric, and then we needed persons who could sew the uniforms.

"We approached seamstresses in the community and they were willing to work with us" he said. "This has been good business for us as we were providing additional jobs, especially during the busy back-to-school periods."

Valuable partnership formed 

A valuable partnership in the success of this enterprise came from the financial assistance the booksellers received from JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL), Lindsay stated.

"JN Small Business Loans was a great help," he said. "We were able to expand our space; offer a wide variety of items and have plans to do more, because of the assistance from the company. And, we were also able to engage persons in the community based on the advice we received."

Gillian Hyde, general manager, JNSBL, said that small businesses such as Pro Books and Beyond demonstrate that the focus on serving the people and needs of a community can always lead to viable business options.

"We were buoyed by the progress Pro Books and Beyond has made in the services and employment they provide," Hyde said. "We also appreciated the use Miss Ennis and Mr Lindsay made of the financial support and advice they received from JNSBL. We believe that they have insight and are innovative, and those values will serve them well as they continue to develop their business in the future."

In addition to three full-time employees, Pro Books and Beyond has engaged three seamstresses, and plans are in place for additional growth as they pursue greater engagement in the community.

"I try to ensure that my customers are happy at all times," Lindsay said. "If they are happy, it means they will keep coming back; and more residents in the community will ultimately benefit."