When Marcy Rizzi decided to open up a new business a few years ago, she knew it had to be a bookstore. Many might eschew the idea of such a business in an age of growing audiobook and digital book sales, but her store is exactly on par for growth within her industry.
“It’s probably six percent, which is the industry standard for bookstores,” Rizzi said. And that growth, while she freely admits it hasn’t made her wealthy, has allowed her to grow the business beyond just herself. “I now have two employees, one full-time and one part-time, which allows us to do a lot more offsite events.”
That extension of her workforce means she’s able to make meaningful and financially beneficial connections within the community. You’ll often see Booked on 25th selling books on site for author and speaker engagements at Weber State University and St. Joseph’s Catholic High School.
But Rizzi isn’t just resting on her laurels; she’s been awarded three scholarships over the last couple of years to attend the Regional Book Expo for our Mountains and Plains region, the National Book Expo in New York City and the Winter Institute in Minneapolis, which Rizzi describes as a “Comic Con for book lovers that also offers educational classes to booksellers.”
Her most recent scholarship to attend the National Book Expo in NYC came as a bit of a surprise. “I put in for the award in November 2017 and, when I hadn’t heard anything by February or March, I figured I hadn’t won,” she recounted. “Then, on May third, I got the call that I’d won a full scholarship covering hotel, airfare, registration, everything.”
But these expos are not just a playground for Rizzi—she means business. “I have access to a lot of different booksellers throughout Utah, but you almost start to feel that your interests are very self-contained,” she said. “When you go to somewhere like NYC or Minneapolis, you get to talk to other owners, how they’re diversifying what they carry, etc. When I’m able to go somewhere else, I’m also experiencing a different kind of business culture.”
While her bookstore is learning and growing with each year and attended expo, her focus always remains on supporting local authors and writers. “We have an amazing writing community in Ogden with WSU and PoetFlow, but they never really had an off-campus meeting location—they usually had to go down to SLC to find a support system for their writing community,” Rizzi said.
“When I started my business plans, one of the central goals was making sure to support, as much as we can, local authors from Ogden. We sell their books, connect them with other writers or publishers and give non-university affiliated writers a place to go,” Rizzi said.
The one piece of advice Rizzi would give an aspiring “book peddler,” as she calls it: “Find a person in a similar industry to them and ask every question you can possibly think of.”