As manager of Downtown Books II at the Capital Mall, Beth Elliott dreamed of owning her own bookstore.
She didn’t know it would happen sooner than she had expected.
When Downtown Books II closed in August, Elliott knew the original Downtown Book & Toy at 125 E. High St. would be next if she didn’t take advantage of it.
“I couldn’t let local book sales get away from Jefferson City,” she said. “It’s an institution, and I wanted to keep it here.”
Ready for retirement, the Cowleys of Cowley Distributing have sold their chain of bookstores and toy stores in central and eastern Missouri, including Downtown Books.
“This opportunity was really a godsend,” said Elliott. “I am really grateful.”
Service and discounts will remain the same, but Elliott has expanded the hours and plans to diversify the selection of books.
The new hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Before, the store closed an hour earlier on weekdays and on Saturdays and 3:30 hours earlier on Sundays.
“I just think the more open you are, the more opportunities there are to serve people,” Elliott said.
Elliott plans to add more books in the hopes that Jefferson City readers will buy more books from Downtown Book & Toy rather than online or at a large chain store. She plans to add “pre-loved” vinyls and books and expand the Missouri section, adding more books on Jefferson City and books by local authors.
“We have so many people coming in and wanting something about Missouri,” Elliott said. “We have a pretty good selection, but I want it to be a little more geared towards Jefferson City.”
Elliott also plans to add manga, Spanish-language, and urban fiction books, all of which have been successful at Downtown Books II and can be hard to find in central Missouri.
She wants to meet the interests of clients to have a selection that excites local readers, she said.
“We are really ready to work with people,” she said. “We just need to know what people want. “
When it comes to toys, Elliott plans to add a few classic toys like Legos, but generally wants to stay away from toys you can buy at Target or Walmart.
“This is our chance to showcase smaller businesses within a smaller business,” she said.
Downtown Book & Toy has something for all ages. Elliott said she wanted this to be a place where everyone can find something for their interests, create memories and learn something new. A native of Jefferson City, Elliott has fond memories of coming downtown after school or on weekends as a young teenager.
“I really like the idea of having a space where tweens or young teens who can’t drive might want to come in and just hang out and read a few books, buy a few books, maybe check out something like Dungeons and Desires. dragons or just something a little different – some kind of space where they can come and be themselves, ”she said.
Its goal, she said, is for Downtown Book & Toy to continue to benefit downtown and Jefferson City as a place that carries on a cycle of fond memories for generations to come.
“I want little kids to have the same kind of memories their parents did for coming to Downtown Book & Toy and shopping and having a toy after a parade or something – just the community and the camaraderie of being in Jeff City, ”she said. noted.
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