Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Building a bookstore

Help bring an independent bookstore back to Emporia! Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore finally has a shop location at 624 Commercial--now all we need is your contribution to help us purchase our book and magazine inventory, shelving and fixtures, and the fabulous Espresso Book Machine.

Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore will:

  • Provide a retail book business for Emporia and the surrounding region
  • Provide an attractive, diversified retail environment offering customers a distinctive destination experience
  • Create, support, and enable literary, cultural, and educational events and activities
  • Be long-term financially sustainable and provide quality local employment

A cutting-edge and decidedly unique feature of the bookstore will be the Espresso Book Machine. By simply uploading a document, a professionally bound book can be printed out in about the time it takes to brew an espresso. There are less than a hundred Espresso Book Machines worldwide. This machine offers authors the opportunity to self-publish and print books--on demand--only as needed, without the huge cost of a long printing run. Additionally, doctoral and masters candidates can create a professional thesis package with virtually no lead time. Faculty from colleges and universities in the region can use the Espresso Book Machine to create and print custom textbooks for their courses--a burgeoning trend nationwide. Professionally bound copies of corporate presentations can be quickly and easily produced. Another valuable aspect of the Espresso Book Machine is the ability to print out single copies of any book available from many major publishers, Google Books, Project Gutenberg, and other sources. Thus, books of all kinds--from bestsellers to hard-to-find to foreign language books--are instantly available at Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore.

The Kansas Collection will feature rare, out-of-print, collectible, and hard to find books. The theme of this curated selection is Kansas: Kansas authors, Kansas history, Kansas people or places or things. The ultimate goal is to develop the Kansas Collection as the go-to source for researchers and serious collectors.

Satellite coffee shop service will be provided by local purveyors. Here at Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore, we believe that "Buy Local" is more than just a slogan--and that it works both ways. In addition to sourcing our coffee shop services locally, we'll be partnering with a local chocolatier to offer signature Ellen Plumb's chocolates. Strong partnerships with local establishments and civic organizations are the bedrock of our business.

A defining feature of the bookstore will be literacy outreach and services. Collaboration with local schools and literacy organizations, plus events like "Read-to-the-Animals" children's field days at the Animal Shelter; book-themed birthday parties and reading events; and a trademark Ellen Plumb's Camp Reads program placing books at area summer camps are valuable efforts toward creating a more literate population, ultimately raising skill levels and earning potential for the entire community. Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore also promotes literacy with Spanish and other language reading material and English as a Second Language collaboration. We intend to compile the best Spanish-language book and periodical collection in the state.

Ellen Plumb's will continue the fine tradition of hosting an annual Kansas author event: the Tallgrass Festival of Books & Writers. The bookstore warmly welcomes all booklovers, writers and researchers, and will host book signings, author presentations, poetry slams, book clubs, and other literary events. Watch for our unique in-store events featuring local writers and manual typewriters! Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore will proudly feature local artists' works for sale, as well.

Emporia's first bookstore was established by Ellen Plumb, one of the first graduates of the Normal School, in a class of two women. Often known simply as Ellen Plumb's (officially, the City Bookstore), the shop at 523 Commercial served Emporia for nearly forty years, from 1870 until 1907. Eckdall & McCarty Bookstore, at 508 Commercial, was open until the 1960s, followed by Browning & Gunther. Town Crier served the city for a quarter century, closing in 2015.

Marcia Lawrence is a published author, a former book publisher, and has decades of experience owning and managing small businesses. Owning a bookstore fulfills a lifelong dream.

Our GoFundMe goal is to raise $50,000 by September 2016. We'd love it if you can help build our community bookstore with your contributions to our campaign. Just visit https://www.gofundme.com/2ap92ghg -- and give frequently and generously!

The first phase is setting up shop at 624 Commercial this fall with a modest selection of books and periodicals and related sidelines, as our friends at the Junque Drawer Emporium transition their business to other locations. We'll be working on the "diamond-in-the-rough" second floor of the building, too, which will provide outstanding space for the Kansas Collection, a community meeting room, a dedicated performance space, and other projects. Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore will stock all the William Allen White Book Award winners and all Kansas Notable Books as part of our commitment to Kansas authors and books. We'll also establish a "Village Post Office", offering extended-hours postage purchases and mailing services. 

Look for the Grand Opening of Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore in January 2017, and the introduction of the fabulous Espresso Book Machine. Plan to attend our celebration of all things literary--including a "Sign The Wall Party" honoring all contributors to our campaign.


Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore, LLC is also currently accepting financial investors, with the goal of raising $100,000. A copy of the business plan, financial projections, and market analysis are available to qualified, interested investors upon request.

If you'd like more information about becoming an investor, please contact Marcia Lawrence directly.
   Cell phone: 816-255-6345
   Email: ellenplumbs@gmail.com


An independent bookstore is more than just another business-- it's a community service. Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore is a labor of love for me, and my way of giving back to this community that I am so grateful to be a part of. I hope you also believe in the vital importance of an independent community bookstore in our town, and I hope you will join me in building it.

Thank you!