Biz Buzz Monday: Bellevue bookstore celebrates 25 years

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-state area. In addition to this development from Bellevue, Iowa, we will share other news in Tuesday’s edition.

BELLEVUE, Iowa — Owner Sheila Hargrave, of Bellevue, opened The BookWorm Bookstore & More in 1998, equipped with a love of books and no retail experience to her name.

She had just gone through a divorce, and she was looking to prove to herself and others that everything would be OK. She knew opening a business was a risk, but she pushed herself to take the leap and opened the Bellevue storefront.

This month, the bookstore is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“I really can’t believe it’s been that long. It just blows my mind,” Hargrave reflected. “Every year, it has grown and continues to grow, … and there’s no sign of stopping.”

Located at 110 S. Riverview St., The BookWorm is stacked floor to ceiling with a variety of books, puzzles, games and more. The store is open seven days a week, many of which Hargrave works herself along with her Boston terrier, Brodie.

She said the store attracts a wide variety of customers from the tri-state area and beyond. She has regulars, but she also gets a number of tourists from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.

She said people enjoy the personable feel of the shop, as well as the opportunity to support a small, local business.

“It sounds cliché, but so many people walk in the door as customers and leave as friends,” Hargrave said. “This year, I found out I inspired someone who was a customer for several years to open their own independent bookstore in Minnesota, which is pretty awesome.”

Over the years, Hargrave has worked to keep up to date on what sorts of books, products and services will be popular with customers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she shifted for a time to curbside pickup.

But while the inventory has changed and some disruptions have occurred, she said the business model has stayed more or less the same: find and connect with other book lovers.

“I love the feeling of handing someone their book. It’s such a thrill,” she said. “… My long-range hopes are that someone else will come along and say that’s their dream, too, and then I can sit back and watch them take this even further.”

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, The BookWorm is hosting an author meet-and-greet and book signing with Heather Gudenkauf from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, at Great River Gallery, 307 S. Riverview St.

Questions about that event or about The BookWorm can be directed to the store at 563-872-4802. The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.