Veteran to open kitschy used bookstore downtown
A Lowell military veteran is opening a used bookstore called "Bettie's Pages" at 96 E. Main later this month. In addition to used books, they will offer coffee, tea and unusual gift items.
The store is named after pin-up model Bettie Page, and the interior will be decorated in a kitschy, mid-century style.
"I've always had a love of old Hollywood/pin up," said owner Nicole Lintemuth. "When I was a kid I was fascinated by Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and all of the magnificent, glamorous ladies I saw on TCM. As an adult I still love it. There is a pretty awesome and thriving pin-up culture in the Midwest, and I wanted to be a part of that. I wish I could take credit for the clever name, but that was actually my friend Meaghan."
Lintemuth is quitting her safe, comfortable job in the banking industry to launch her dream bookstore.
"I have not [owned a store before]," Lintemuth said. "I've worked in retail but never owned it. It's definitely scary and a little overwhelming, but I'm really driven to do my best. As a veteran/woman-owned business, I've been searching out every single resource available to me, to learn as much as I can. GROW in Grand Rapids, #GRBossBabes, the [Small Business Administration] and the Veteran Women Igniting the Spire of Entrepreneurship programs have been invaluable to me. I will be leaving my day job. I've worked in banking for the last eight years and been incredibly thankful for a very interesting career there. But I'm really looking forward to the challenge of being a one woman show for at least the first year. If things go well, which I plan to do everything in my power to make happen, I will be hiring on help. But until then, it's going to be me."
Lintemuth said the store should open sometime in December, but a definitive date has not yet been set.
"We're at the mercy of inspectors and contractors right now," Lintemuth said. "My landlords have been dealing with all of that, so I don't actually know. I am hoping for a mid-December opening, but as soon as I know more I will be sure to share it on our website and Facebook page."
She lives in Lowell with her husband, dog and two cats.
"Since we moved here, we couldn't imagine living anywhere else," Lintemuth said. "I grew up in the UP until high school, which is when I moved to Zeeland. We lived in the lakeshore area until my husband and I moved here three years ago and fell in love with the town. We miss the water and our friends, but Lowell is home. As I was driving through downtown on day and saw the 'for rent' sign on my space. I just knew that was where I was meant to be. I love the feel of downtown, and everyone has been so welcoming and encouraging. Plus, we need a bookstore. Our downtown is really a neat and thriving area that I can't wait to be a part of."
Her interest in literature was sparked by a childhood tutor.
"Books are magic," Lintemuth said. "You can travel the world, meet the most interesting people, and have the best adventures without ever leaving your house. What's not to love about that? When I was young I actually had to be tutored in reading because my teachers were worried I was behind the class. What we found out was that I was just bored. I had an amazing tutor spend the time with me to figure this out and ignite my love of reading. Once I found out how much I enjoyed it, I was unstoppable."
The new store will help you clear some space on your shelves for all the books you buy there.
"Once we open, we will be accepting used books for store credit," Lintemuth said. "That credit can be used for up to 50 percent off your purchase. People will also have the ability to donate their credit to the house account that can be used by teachers and students on their purchases."
Another way to get a discount is to join the store's book subscription club.
"Bettie's Book Club is part subscription box and part loyalty program," Lintemuth said. "People will be able to sign up month to month, or get a discount for longer subscriptions. Every member of Bettie's Book Club will get a brand new book in the mail depending on which book club they sign up for (romance, mystery, general fiction, young adult, kids) as well as the occasional special curated item from the store. They also get discounts on events, a 10 percent discount on all purchases in the store and other benefits."
Don't be discouraged if you don't find the exact title you were looking for on your first visit, Lintemuth said the books on the shelves will probably change as she gets to know Lowell readers' tastes.
"To start, we will stock all genres of books," Lintemuth said. "As we're open longer and I get a better idea of what my customers would like, that might change slightly. As a used bookstore, it's really cool to see what treasures come in. I've got a great supply already and have really enjoyed sorting them all and getting ready to open. I will also have the ability to special order new books, as well as offer e-books and audiobooks for my customers. I've loved seeing some of my favorites though come into the inventory, [like] "A Little Princess," "Harry Potter" [and] authors like Liz Carlye and Allison Wier. Romance has a special place in my heart and I've got some really good books in that genre. I have a lot of favorite authors, and often whoever I'm reading at the time is my favorite. I plan to highlight my favorites as I have them and encourage other people to write reviews for books in the store. We will also have what's called a 'blind date' section. People can wrap a book in brown paper and then write a synopsis on the paper. This is a fun way for people to try new books/authors without the bias."
In addition to browsing books, you'll also be able to enjoy a cup of coffee and pick up some unique gift items.
"I call Bettie's Pages a vintage inspired store, and hope to offer a selection of gifts, stationary [and] art that fits into that feel," Lintemuth said. "I've been able to start sourcing some really unique items that I can't wait to share with people. We're also going to offer tea [and] coffee, as well as bottled drinks. Hopefully, as we get into the space and things go well, I'll be able to expand the offerings to include snacks, and someday I hope to offer beer/wine for our events."
Lintemuth plans to hold special events at the store almost constantly, and said to watch the bookstore's social media for details as they become available.
"I'm most excited about the events," Lintemuth said. "A conversation I've had time and again with people is how hard it is to make friends as an adult. Most often we make friends at work or school, and if you don't have that or aren't lucky enough to have a good mix of people in those places, it's really hard to connect with others in person. So our events, especially the evening events, are designed to get people together in smaller groups, maximum 25-30, and have a good time. We will have game nights, girls nights, pop up shops, classic movie nights and more. We will have a calendar of events on the website. For first dibs on events, as well as discounts on event tickets, people can join Bettie's Book Club. Otherwise they'll be able to join our mailing list or stop in the store for a calendar of the upcoming events. I'm very focused on making sure these events are fun, as well as a good value. During the day we'll have special events and sales as well as just cozy spaces to sit and gather for outside groups who'd like to use the space."
Lintemuth said she is hoping that, in addition to making a living for herself, she hopes the bookstore becomes a vital gathering place for the community.
"Independent bookstores can be a staple of communities, benefiting authors, readers and the community at large," Lintemuth said. "We create a unique feel to any town [and] give back in so many ways by helping local/regional authors get noticed where big box stores won't. And the stats are strong that independent bookstores, as well as all small businesses, are good for the community because the money spent there stays there. Opening a bookstore has been a dream of mine since I was kid. Seeing the great response from the community has been such a joy. I know this will be a lot of hard work and tough days, but I'm ready for it and can't wait to see everyone there."