bookstore sells infant formula on the side

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Background: Owning a bookstore is extremely difficult to make profits, especially in small cities where retail rents are sky-high and people tend to have a short attention span for books. In Hong Kong, there's a book store owner who has found a way to support the running costs by selling fed-safe infant formula stacked on shelves next to shabby, dust-covered books. So the book store is always filled with parents and their screaming children when there's a supply shortage of infant formula at supermarkets and drugstores.

Hi, Since a person can make money on the side, I'd like to know if it's okay to say a bookstore makes extra profits on the side by selling things in addition to books.

"The book store sells infant formula on the side to support its running costs"
 
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  • Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would prefer:

    "The book store sells infant formula as a sideline to support its running costs."

    Reason: "on the side" can also mean 'secretly or illegally' (see dictionary).

    Incidentally, 'bookstore' (AE) is usually one word and 'bookshop' (BE).
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thank you all.

    I would prefer:

    "The book store sells infant formula as a sideline to support its running costs."

    Reason: "on the side" can also mean 'secretly or illegally' (see dictionary).
    If it turned out that selling baby food at the bookstore was illegal, and the bookstore used the book selling business as a cover for the illegal business, I think it'd also make sense to say "The book-selling business is a front to sell infant formula" .
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    When I think of "front companies," I imagine companies set up originally as dummy companies to do something illegal. If that were true here, I would say that your sentence works, e.g. "His book-selling business is a front for selling infant formula."

    But in this case, the bookstore owner really wanted to run a bookstore, but his realization that the business wasn't viable coincided with a shortage of milk powder, so he switched the emphasis of his business. So I would probably indicate that: "His book-selling business has become a front for selling infant formula."

    A small thing, perhaps, but it gets the evolutionary aspect of the situation in there -- he's more a victim of circumstances (and an opportunist), rather than an outlaw from the beginning.

    (As an aside, I was watching the BBC this morning to see that the milk-powder problem has spread to Britain. Amazing.)
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    If it turned out that selling baby food at the bookstore was illegal, and the bookstore used the book selling business as a cover for the illegal business
    In those circumstances you could say he was selling the baby food under the counter in BrE.
     
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