Last month, we talked about how Historic 25th Street in Ogden is going through a bit of a resurgence with new businesses. The highlight of that last visit was Lavender Vinyl; this month, we head back to check out Booked On 25th, a new and used book shop looking to replace the missing locally-owned literary aspect to the street, and help bring back a physical book store
to the Ogden landscape. Today we chat with co-owner Marcy Rizzi about starting up the place and what you can find in store
. (All pictures courtesy of Booked On 25th.
Gavin: Hey Marcy! First thing, tell is a bit about yourself.
I run the store with my partner (in life and business) Alicia Rizzi (who goes by Rizzi). I am just your typical lesbian mom from Utah who used to work in corrections, but radically changed my life at the age of 36. I quit my job to go back to school at the University of Utah. I was majoring in English and Gender Studies but ran out of funding for school
, so instead of eating ramen noodles for the rest of my life, I decided to embark on opening a bookstore in Ogden. Rizzi is the strong silent type who holds down a full-time job and helps out at the store when she can.
What got you hooked on reading and literature growing up?
When I was 9 years old, a dear friend of mine read to me Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart
. I had her read it over and over to me—I was hooked! That was my descent into literature, and I haven't looked back. This friend died when I was 15 years old, but she profoundly changed my life by reading that one small story. The store logo has a raven in it, and it is an acknowledgment to her and Poe.
What are your favorite books that you still read over and over?
My go-to books are Edgar Allan Poe (almost all of his works) and I re-read Mathew Lewis' The Monk
each year and find new hidden gems each time I read it. One book that scared the shit out of me as a teenager was Stephen King's It
, so I like to relive my scared youth by visiting that book every few years. A couple of books I find important during election years are Jacques Ellul's Propaganda
and George Orwell's 1984
When did the two of you first meet and eventually get married?
We met in jail. Romantic right? Actually, we were both employed there, so it doesn't make the story quite as exciting as it might sound. We begrudgingly got married on December 24, 2013, the year that Utah let us get married before unceremoniously yanking it away. Do I sound bitter? Quite frankly, we don't much support the idea of marriage,
but enjoy the benefits attached to marriage. We really got married so I could have health insurance—true story.
How did the idea come about to start up your own book shop?
As I said before, I ran out of school funding,
and had no idea what to do next. I was doing small writing jobs, but they weren't paying the bills. As a family, our vacations centered around indie bookstores; we made sure to visit places that had an indie bookstore because they really give a sense of the community and what that community values. Rizzi mentioned that I should open a bookstore, and I truly thought she was joking. After laughing and saying, "That would be amazing!" she sat stoic and serious. That got the ball rolling; the very next day, I started to research and build a business plan.
What made you decide to set up shop in Ogden?
Ogden hasn't had a new and used indie bookstore in years. Ogden also has a thriving literary community, with no general location to spotlight those talents. To be honest, I'm surprised it took this long to get an indie bookstore up and going.
How did you end up coming across the location on 25th Street? What was it like renovating the place for what you needed?
My research made it clear that the only way an indie bookstore would survive would be on 25th Street. I started driving up and down the street, as I was making my business plan, and this spot seemed perfect. It has plenty of windows and isn't overly large. Renovations were simple: paint, new flooring, and building shelves.
What made you decide to go for a new and used book store, rather than focusing on one or the other?
The demographics in Ogden are unique, I suppose, meaning that many different income brackets are represented in a small area, so this translated into making sure that all income brackets could walk into the store and leave with a good book. Plus, who doesn't love the history of an old book, or the smell of a new one? Best of both worlds!
Was there any hesitation after hearing Bookateria was closing up shop, or did that motivate you more?
Bookateria was an incredible used bookstore, and the owner was an amazing man who dedicated his life to books. With that said, what they offered is different than what Booked On 25th is offering the fine folks of Ogden. We are more than just a bookstore; we are a community gathering spot for literary-minded people who want to participate in the many activities we have planned for the store. We will have open mic nights for poetry, author readings/signings, workshops, etc.
What was the grand opening like for you, and how was the community response?
The grand opening was over the top amazing. The community was out in full force to make sure we felt the love and appreciation for our new business venture. I find it hard to capture the right words to convey the love that Ogden showed us that day. And it hasn't slowed down. Thanks, Ogdenites!
What do you look for in a used book and decide what to keep on the shelves?
Our collection of used books is open to all books unless they are shabby or destroyed. We like a little bit of everything.
On the flip side, how do you go about choosing what new titles to keep in stock?
I've been lucky that Ann Holman, from The King's English Bookshop, has been mentoring me. Some of the best advice she gave me early on when getting ready to place my first order for new books was to buy what I like and what I would want to read. From there, the community has been great at providing feedback on what they want to see in the store.
What's it been like setting up events and making the shop a spot for the literary community?
I mean, don't tell anyone this, but it is fun. Honestly, it doesn't feel like work most days, I love what I do. Being able to talk with authors, national and local, and make plans has been surreal and energizing.
How has it been for you working with other businesses along 25th and helping bring about what feels like a new vibe to the street?
The other retailers on 25th have been so inviting and helpful. I truly couldn't ask to be at a better location with some of the best hard working local business owners in Utah. Many business owners have stopped by to order or buy books or have stopped by to give helpful advice. I think I was expecting for there to be a feeling of competition, but I've found that the feeling is one of mutual support to make sure we all thrive. It is like creating a second family for me.
What do you hope the shop will bring to the community?
I would like the bookstore to be a place where people feel safe in expressing their ideas and words. I want the store to be a place where ideas become actions and make a power change for the better. I want the bookstore to be a place where people go to listen to the wonderful talent Ogden has,
and provide a platform for those with literary passion and talent.
What can we expect from you and Booked On 25th over the rest of 2016?
Events, events, events. We will continually be providing Ogden, and surrounding areas, with local and national authors and poets. There isn't a week that goes by that we won't be featuring something new for Ogden to be a part of. As far as what you can expect from me, more of the same smartassery and love.