From IT to Books
Denise Phillips had no interest in owning and running an independent bookstore. However, after moving from Chicago to Ohio, she wanted one in her neighborhood of her, and at the time, the closest one was in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“I never wanted to be a store owner,” Phillips said, but she left her IT job and came up with a plan, and in June of 2016, Gathering Volumes Bookstore opened its doors. “Some people told me I was crazy, but enough told me I wasn’t,” Phillips said. “So, I went for it.”
Small but Mighty
The bookstore, located on 196 E. South Boundary, sells new and used books, but also craft supplies, puzzles, games, and stuffed animals paired with picture books.
“I try to do whatever I can do to make sure people find things locally,” Phillip explained. This became especially important during the pandemic, when the store reached its five year mark. Phillips took advantage of what she learned from being in project management to continue to run Gathering Volumes. “We are small, so we can be agile.”
For example, having a full-blown website helped. “We didn’t have to worry about getting a website up and running [during the pandemic]. We already had one.” And, besides having stock in addition to books, the store offered curbside pick-up, as well as delivery up to 20 miles.
Phillips also came up with a Bookish Care Package, a service that offers fun literary gifts to friends and family when we all had to keep our distance from each other. Shoppers can still order Bookish Care Packages, and the store will create one or people can design their own. Phillips hopes the packages provide “a little happiness to [peoples’] days.”
Gathering Around Stories
Phillips, who reads 4-6 books a month, doesn’t have a favorite genre or author, but loves Kristen Lepionka, another Ohio author. Her mystery books by Ella are about a “flawed PI,” Roxane Weary. Phillips also loves the sci-fi noir, titans shadea book that’s set in a town where humans and aliens are living together.
“It’s not a book I’d ever pick up, but I got sucked in because of the characters,” Phillips said.
Gathering Volumes offers a variety of events and book clubs that are now being held in-person. Philips is excited about the Northwest Ohio Teen Book Festival that runs April 23rd at Rossford Junior/Senior High School in Rossford, Ohio. Over 20 authors from across the country will attend, and Mindy McGinnis, an Ohio author, will be the keynote speaker.
“Her books get challenged a lot because she writes about tough topics,” Phillips said. “Ella She’s going to speak about being challenged in her keynote address de ella.”