A competitive business to be in, Pat Kehde and Mary Lou Wright are proud of their bookstore in downtown Lawrence.
The odds of being successful with their own bookstore were against Pat Kehde and Mary Lou Wright when they opened The Raven Bookstore at 8 E. Seventh St. 10 years ago on Sept. 1.
While attending American Booksellers School in Chicago, both learned that out of a class of 75 students, the odds were between five and 10 would open a store and of those that do, five years was as long as they would last.
"They certainly had me talked down the first 20 minutes when I learned what the profit margin was," Wright said.
But Kehde convinced her otherwise, and the two went into business.
Today, the store is celebrating its 10th year in downtown Lawrence, specializing in mysteries, regional and fiction novels. The Raven has hosted more than 200 authors for book signings, many of them local writers.
"It is a full-line bookstore and we very much support local authors," Wright said. "We had no idea going in how well we would be working with the authors. It started out with one wonderful author in Kansas City named Nancy Pickard."
Pickard will be attending Friday night's open house to celebrate a decade in the bookstore business.
"We hope all of our customers will come in and have some cake, white wine or tea with us," Kehde said.
Kehde said the store has seen a lot of changes over the years downtown and the biggest was when Free State Brewery opened around the corner from them on Massachusetts Street.
"That's when the traffic started coming to our end of Mass," she said.
The bookstore has expanded twice to 1,000 square feet, which Kehde says is all the space they have.
"I'd like to incorporate a coffee shop, but there's not enough room and that would mean having to change locations," she said. "I am considering offering some classes though, that have to do with the specialties we offer."
Borders bookstore's arrival to the Winter Block, just down the corner from The Raven between Seventh and Eighth streets on New Hampshire Street, is a concern for both bookstore owners.
"We have a lot of repeat customers and have gotten to know them well," Kehde said. "We hope the store's reputation for personal service and its unique, knowledgeable staff continues to keep them coming back to our store."