Business in Profile: Cassiopeia Books

Andrew Guschausky, 34, Cassiopeia Books opened 5.5 years ago.

He was born and raised here. His parents are from Missoula and they moved to Great Falls before he was born because his mother was hired by Hamilton Misfeldt and Co.

He stayed because, “although you tend to be less than enchanted with the town you grew up in, I began to see Great Falls with new eyes when I was in my twenties. I love the river and its nearby trails, I love downtown, I love the people, I love how tight knit and supportive the community is, and I love the fascinating, varied, and rich history of this city.

Guschausky said, “my uncle Keith gave me some wonderful advice: don’t grumble and complain about the place you live; rather, help make it the place you want to live. I opened a local bookshop in Great Falls simply because I wanted to live in a city that had a local bookshop. And what could be better than sharing a love of the magic of reading with others?”

What are the top 3 advantages to operating a business in Great Falls?

“Great Falls has several advantages for operating a business. Three of them are: the business community is supportive, the local news media (e.g. The Electric) is supportive and generous with their coverage, and customers are supportive and loyal to a surprising degree.”

What are the top 3 challenges?

“There are challenges to operating a business in Great Falls, as well. I’d say the primary challenge is keeping a sandwich board standing upright amidst the brutal gusts of wind we so often get. Another is that tourists assume that you have the answers to all of their questions about Charlie Russell, even though you might not have more than a very superficial knowledge of the famous artist. And finally, it is a challenge to get to work on time if I decide to stop by a coffee shop in the morning because there are so many friendly people that want to chat.”

If there was one thing you could change to existing regulations to remove barriers to business, what would it be?

“I prefer to live in the reality of books and so there are a great many things in the real world that I am simply unaware of and I think that barriers to businesses in Great Falls is one of them. I often hear people claiming that parking meters are an impediment to business and while I think our parking plan could be improved (I mean, what couldn’t be improved?), I’m more of the school of thought that there is no such thing as free parking.  The overall challenge seems to be, and this is not endemic to Great Falls nor is it due to regulations (and so, not really an answer to your question), that many folks take a good amount of convincing to realize that they must patronize a local business if they want it to remain a business.”

What advice would you give to someone considering starting a business in Great Falls?

“Although I’m not so sure that I have any business giving anyone business advice, I will say that because Great Falls is such a tight knit community it is worth thinking of your business not merely as a pecuniary endeavor but rather an opportunity to become more involved in Great Falls. Whether you are selling products or services, whether you have fifty employees or you’re the sole worker, you get to be more than a faceless company and so embrace the possibilities of getting to know the city and the city getting to know you. Develop connections and friendships and solid working relationships. Perhaps it all just boils down to the simple dictum: be kind.”