Originally Published in March/April/May 2015 B2B.
This isn’t the first time the owners of The Bookworm have done this whole move thing. Beth and Phil Black have owned the independent bookstore for nearly 30 years and last fall they moved into their third location, anchoring the new Loveland Centre at 90th Street and West Center Road.
It’s a move the couple felt necessary for the future of the store.
Since the recession, the climate for brick and mortar booksellers, like many other industries, has been less than kind. Yet The Bookworm, which opened at Regency Court in 1986 and then moved to Countryside Village in 1999, continues to serve a faithful reading public.
“We’ve got loyal customers,” says Beth Black. “Omaha supports local. Omaha is incredible in how it gets behind local businesses. And we’ve got wonderful workers here who really love books. Who want to put the right book into people’s hands.”
“We are noticing more young families coming in and it’s a better layout—everything on one level,” Black says. “The expansion is good. There are a lot more people saying it’s easier to get here and we are seeing more people from Council Bluffs, Papillion, and Ralston. It’s been a good move.”
The layout is different, and the wide-open look has led some people to think the store is a new business. A lot of the “coziness” of the old Countryside Village location was out of necessity due to cramped spaces. For some customers, the change has taken some getting used to, Black says.
“We went through the same things when we moved from Regency,” she says. “It’s just different—it’s a change. Our customers take ownership in the store. It’s their store. The physical store has changed, but nothing else. We’ll hear moms come in and say, ‘See they still have cookies’ and, ‘Look. Carl the dog is still here.’”
Several recent trips to The Bookworm, both during the week and on weekend days, saw a good number of browsers, very similar to typical traffic at the old Countryside Village location. Black says another thing the store has going in its favor is the support of the city. Omaha, she says, doesn’t just shop local; it’s also a very intelligent city.
“People read here,” she says. “Even people with all their electronic devices they still like a book. And whenever there is an event in Omaha people call us to sell books.”
Black says The Bookworm will be selling books at the Holland Lecture Series for the upcoming appearance of activist and author Angela Davis on March 4. The Bookworm is involved every year in the Berkshire Hathaway weekend.
“Everyone wants to know what Warren and Charlie are reading,” she says. “They both are big readers and promote reading.”
Black says she’s sure this is the final move for The Bookworm. She says that the staff looks forward to being a part of Omaha for a long time to come.