Last edited 3:48 p.m., May 14, 2019
After several months of renovations to a nearly 115-year-old house, the owners behind a new bookshop on Walnut Street have opened their doors.
The first day of business for Pagination Bookshop LLC was April 29, with Artsfest, the popular two-day fine arts festival held annually on Walnut Street, as the backdrop for its opening weekend.
“It was such a gift to be a part of Artsfest. But it was a trial by fire,” co-owner Jennifer Murvin said with a laugh. She added the shop hosted book readings, a podcast and a stand-up comedian for entertainment over the weekend.
Murvin, an English professor at Missouri State University, operates the approximately 1,400-square-foot store at 1150 E. Walnut St., with her partner and fiance Kory Cooper. She said they both have a love of reading and wanted to pursue a bookstore as a first-time business venture.
The shop operates on the first floor of the house, built in 1905, and the couple also operates a short-term rental via Airbnb on the second floor. Murvin said she closed on the purchase of the property in August 2018 for an undisclosed amount, and she and Cooper then set out on renovating the nearly 3,400-square-foot home.
“We bought the house to make a bookstore. It’s such an open space,” she said of the large first-floor living room that now has its numerous bookcases filled with new and used books. “It just felt like it was meant to be a bookshop.”
While the couple tackled a number of projects connected to the renovation, work also was provided by Rose Construction, Stinson Building Co. and BatesForum, Murvin said. Housework involved removing carpet and restoring some of the flooring, installing a fire alarm system and removing a couple of the bathrooms. One of them was also turned into a handicap-accessible bathroom. Startup costs landed around $70,000, she added.
Originally aiming to be open several weeks ago, Murvin said she and Cooper had to wait until the city provided a certificate of occupancy before the doors could be opened. The books were lining the shelves well before the renovation was done, she added.
“We were pretty much ready to go with the bookstore. The books are the fun part,” she said.
New book prices generally range between $8-$30, with an emphasis on options from independent publishers, Murvin said, although bestsellers will be for sale as well. The shop also features an assortment of literary-related gifts, including cards, mugs, pins, socks, journals, tarot cards, toys and tote bags.
As the MSU semester winds down this month, Murvin said she’ll get to spend more time in the shop with Cooper over the summer. The two are the lone employees. She said the activities they held during Artsfest are among those they’ll want to do more frequently as they get their feet wet in the business.
“In the summer, we plan on doing some programming like readings and book clubs,” she said. “We’re really excited now that we’re open about how we’re going to get involved in the community.”
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