Sitting at home during the pandemic with her kids running around her, Betty Bayer found herself considering her plans for the future. She had been a librarian for years, but the idea of opening a bookstore had always been in the back of her mind.
"This [the pandemic] made me prioritize my goals and see what's most important to me," Bayer says.
With unexpected free time on her hands, she decided to take a class from the American Booksellers Association geared toward opening a store. Bayer says the class helped change what had been a longtime dream into a reality. Soon, she was figuring out concrete steps, securing a space at the edge of the Old Orchard section of Webster Groves and ordering her first shipments of books. Her concept was focused on creating a family-friendly space with a specialty in graphic books for readers of all levels and interests.
Betty's Books opened on October 23. Despite the ongoing limitations of the pandemic, the first weekend was such a success that Bayer had to replenish her stock. She says she caught people in the shopping mood that hit a sweet spot before Halloween and with Christmas gift buying in the not-too-distant future. The store sits in stylish digs at 10 Summit Avenue, a mix of dark walls and white shelves filled with the brightly colored covers of classic comics, newly released series and fan-favorite graphic novels. In a corner, kids will find a fort-like reading nook with an open wooden roof below neon storm clouds.
Betty's has already begun to host artist appearances (St. Louis' own Lauren Marx was a recent guest), and Bayer has plans for expanded events in the future. Her shop has a section selling the work of local creators, helping others in the area chase their dreams, too.