Moving Back to DSM to Open a Bookstore
Nearly four years ago, I was boarding a Brooklyn-bound flight — two cats and an apprehensive fiancé in tow — certain that moving to New York City was the right decision. Spoiler: it was. Never mind that I had only graduated from Drake the week before (with a BA in Graphic Design and Painting), or the fact that neither of us had job prospects in NYC yet. Leaving Greater Des Moines (DSM), the first home either my husband or I had made on our own, was not easy, but we comforted ourselves with the belief that we would be back someday. Though, only after we gained enough experience and sense of self/direction in NYC to bring back with us — whenever that would be.
Des Moines is where I went to college, where my husband and I met, got engaged and then had our wedding reception in nearby Pella. It’s where I began my grief journey when my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2016 (dying only two months later). But it’s also the place where I discovered new facets of myself that have been guiding me since. You don’t forget a place like that.
Now my husband, cats and I are living amongst a fortification of boxes in our third Brooklyn apartment, about to move back to our beloved (West) Des Moines. Let me tell you, it feels peculiar to be itching to leave one of the most dreamed-about cities in the world for a small one in the Midwest, but Des Moines has never been just any other city to us — it’s home. Whenever I would describe DSM to my friends on the East Coast, I’d sum it up as: solid craft beer culture, loves festivals, art and Raygun. These words were more often than not accompanied by the welling up of tears and an unprompted smile. Ask me about my favorite book (The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon) or my love for DSM, and I will undoubtedly start crying with adoration.
DSM has an energy that is bursting with near-endless possibilities. It’s a small enough city that it feels like home, but young and expansive enough that there’s always something new to experience. For my husband and I, we will be looking at the region with fresh eyes, no longer college students who could only wait and dream about what the future held. We’re a bit older, in the midst of making those “futures” reality, and are so, so ready to settle into this (W)DSM community we plan to remain and raise a family in.
Bookstore Potential in DSM
While we’ve always intended to come back to DSM, it wasn’t until the idea of opening a bookstore that a concrete timeline started coming into focus. Opening an independent bookstore is the harbored dream of many a bibliophile, and I never thought I would be capable of — or interested in — establishing my own. But like all the best things in life, this spark came unexpectedly, all at once and exceeded every expectation I previously held of myself. Brooklyn taught me about the potential and value of independent bookstores, even in this technological day of likes, swipes and never-ending dance videos. I learned that an indie bookstore could be a community touchstone, a place to wander, discover and, along with other independent bookstores, carve out a culture built on the love of reading. This perspective is what I’m bringing back with me to the Midwest; with this intention I aim to serve the DSM community.
There is no other place I’d want to lay down roots, open my bookstore, raise a family or devote myself. I look upon my early DSM years with so much love and am eager to layer new experiences upon the old. Now, as we prepare to return, we’re looking toward the future — only now realizing that “the future” is not so far away anymore. It’s here. It’s now. And it’s in my beloved DSM. See you soon.
Are you interested in moving to Greater Des Moines (DSM)? Relocation Packets offer information on everything from neighborhoods and shopping to parks and local attractions. Or, kick start your career by checking out the DSM USA Career Center. It has over 10,000 jobs listed!
Named the #1 Best Place to Live in the Midwest and #2 Safest Place to Live, Greater Des Moines (DSM) is a city where you can have it all. Learn more about what it’s like to live here.
Linzi Murray is a graphic designer and lifelong bibliophile. She graduated from Drake with a BA in graphic design and painting in 2017, followed by four years as a designer in NYC. Now she's back in Des Moines to open a bookstore, Reading in Public Bookstore + Cafe.