Reading in Public Prepares to Open in West Des Moines
When I initially set out to open my bookstore, Reading in Public, I knew there'd be an ocean of unknowns to wade through to make it happen. There was a limit to what I could accomplish living halfway across the country. On a brief visit to Greater Des Moines (DSM) in Summer 2021, I met with the other bookstore-owning ladies in the area (because they are all women right now!) and confirmed for myself that Historic Valley Junction was the place I wanted to open in. I left feeling inspired, energized, and increasingly impatient, wanting to be back in DSM — right now!
Flying into New York City always felt a little magical to me. What looked like floating pods of civilization would suddenly appear as we neared the city. However, I felt conflicted on our return from DSM. I tried to decode this feeling as we maneuvered through LGA. As we waited for our rideshare, I watched the jumble of people and vehicles amassed in front of the airport. The requisite honks and shouts of the city rang out, adding to the sensory overload I was experiencing. It was in that instant that I knew for sure — in my gut — that it was time to leave NYC.
Fast-forward to today, March 2022. We have been back in DSM for four months. To say I've gotten a lot done since the move would be a monumental understatement. Even now, as I attempt to recall the specifics of what I've accomplished, my overloaded brain goes blank. Being back in Iowa meant I could finally start looking for a space in earnest. The search phase was a months-long period of anxious anticipation, continuous inbox refreshing and very little sleep. This was also when terms like "LOI," "CAM" and "TI allowance" were added to my lexicon. Anyone who has been through commercial lease negotiations can likely relate to that moment of relief/disbelief when all terms are final and signature lines filled.
Until this point, I had kept quiet about my progress online, waiting until I could make that big announcement. Let me tell you. I had not anticipated the instantaneous shift once people knew about my store coming to West Des Moines. No longer was I by myself, quietly working toward this future bookstore. I was suddenly a "real" business because others perceived me to be one; I felt equal parts frightened and exhilarated. I needed a few days to process the sudden change.
Aside from securing my storefront, I've been working with genuinely fantastic, generous people who are helping me breathe life into the store — the folks of Historic Valley Junction, Nora Walsh, a Comm. Real Estate Advisor at SVN | Create and Cody of Knop Architects are just a few of them. I've also spent several weeks setting up my accounts with publishers and meeting my regional reps. Most fulfilling of all, though: book-buying!!
I have a few in-person events coming up where I'll be selling books, stationery and other goods (see details below). My official Reading in Public webstore will be live soon, allowing for online orders too! It's a thrilling time that is simultaneously exhausting. I can't wait to get out there into the DSM community. I intend to create a space where people can feel safe and at home, surrounded by books, friends and good coffee.
I aim to open Reading in Public's doors in July 2022 at 315 5th St, Ste. 100 in West Des Moines. Since I don't want to wait until then to start selling books, I have planned a few events in the meantime.
Upcoming Reading in Public Events
Workshop @ the DSM Book Festival: Level Up Your List: How to Read More and Actually Enjoy It
Saturday, March 26 | 2 p.m.
Historic Valley Junction Farmers Market
Every Thursday in May + June | 4-8 p.m.
Pop-up Book Shop @ Fox Brewing
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.