DES MOINES, Iowa — “So much of what we love about bookstores is coming together and being in a space together,” said Abigail Paxton, owner of Storyhouse Bookpub in Des Moines. The pandemic has forced businesses to get creative. Paxton has adapted with virtual storytime and outdoor events. “Small businesses are just the backbone of our communities and it’s usually run by families like ours and it’s where our passion lies,” said Paxton.
Originally from Des Moines, Paxton moved back from Colorado in March to begin her dream of owning a local book shop. “I got the LLC for Storyhouse Bookpub in March right before everything shut down which kind of changed a lot of my plans,” Paxton said.
As book sales began to shift online, local bookstores have struggled but Abigail pressed on with a series of holiday events in her driveway scheduled for the first three Saturdays in December. “I think it’s a hard moment right now but bookstores are going to get through it,” said Paxton.
Storyhouse Bookpub began as a little free library in the front yard of the Paxton’s home. Despite the American Booksellers Association saying more than one independent book store a week has shut down because of the pandemic, Abigail saw a need her community and says now more than ever Iowans need a good read. Paxton said, “Books right now are something that we can return to in these times where we are being quieter.
Ciara Ladroma agrees. “When you show up in person for someone you are also showing up for the community you live in,” Ladroma said. She found a book she had been waiting to buy and hopes it also inspires Iowans to think local first for those wish list books. “There just is more value, at least to me, when you buy something from someone who put all their heart and passion into something just like this,” said Ladroma. She also hopes the ease of online clicking and ordering will take a back seat this holiday season to mask wearing shoppers helping one another. Ladroma said, “You are supporting a person instead of a giant store that you don’t know anyone at.”
Critics will say local bookstores are a dying breed. Book lovers like Abigail are quick to point out that the next chapter is worth waiting around for. “I love books but I love people even more. Any way we can look to bring this passion and love and togetherness to the community is why I’m building this bookstore,” Paxton said.
The outdoor holiday book market and storytime events will be held again on December 12 and 19 from 10am-2pm. Check their facebook page for location. Storytime events on both days will be held at 11am. You can visit their children’s mini-store inside MoMere in Historic Valley Junction. Order books online at storyhousebookpub.com