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Ownership change brings new chapter for Kalispell bookstore

by SUMMER ZALESKY Daily Inter Lake
| July 9, 2023 12:00 AM

Despite changing owners in June, The Bookshelf in downtown Kalispell will remain a bookstore — much to the relief of many loyal customers.

When Stephanie Pius — a lover of books herself — bought the business on Main Street, she said it never occurred to her that the store could ever be anything else. Though she will maintain the foundation that the previous owners, Kyle Fort and Mary Wolf, laid for the store, Pius looks forward to “putting her own stamp” on The Bookshelf.

“It’s interesting how many people come in here and say, ‘Oh, I’m so glad you’re keeping this a bookstore!’ Kyle and Mary had a good business and a lot of regulars, so I don’t have plans to make any major changes,” said Pius.

Before coming to own The Bookshelf, Pius homeschooled her seven children for two decades. As her youngest recently graduated high school, Pius decided it was time to pursue her next adventure, and with a background in teaching and tutoring reading, she felt owning The Bookshelf was an excellent opportunity.

“For the last year and a half I was looking for what I was going to do next,” said Pius. “I have children with special needs so I need to have a job that I can leave to take care of them if I need to. This fell into my lap and the timing was ideal.”

Though she has never owned a business before, Pius said that The Bookshelf is an easy business to run, especially since most of the inventory comes from book donations. But administrative duties aren’t Pius’s favorite part of the job, as she said she’d much rather spend time connecting with her customers.

“I’m excited because I love books and helping people find things to read. I love meeting and chatting with new people,” she said.

Pius wants The Bookshelf to remain an active part of the community by supporting organizations such as the National Audubon Society and Authors of the Flathead. The Bookshelf will continue to host author signings, book launches and other community events.

The bookstore is a family friendly space that is open for people to browse at their leisure and sit down with a cup of coffee.

“I want this bookstore to be a place where people feel comfortable and can find what they want to read. I’d love for people to find the information they’re looking for here,” said Pius.

The Bookshelf accepts used books for store credit trade and can special order books if the title is unavailable.

The store is organized by category and from there, books are alphabetized by author. Toward the front of the store, several books by local authors and books about Montana are highlighted to draw attention to local talent.

“This is a well-organized store. We have science fiction, fantasy, western, romance, spirituality, non-fiction, children and young adult books,” said Pius. “But I’m still learning what to suggest because not every book is everyone’s cup of tea.”

Pius encouraged people who may not consider themselves readers to come in and check out The Bookshelf’s offerings.

“If you think you don’t like reading, it could be that you just haven’t found the subject you’re interested in,” she said. “There’s so many books on so many subjects and you don’t have to read a thick book. Don’t be scared of books.”

The Bookshelf is open Monday through Saturday and is located at 101 Main St. in Kalispell. The store can be reached by phone 406-756-2665 or email bookshelfmt@gmail.com.

Reporter Summer Zalesky may be reached at szalesky@dailyinterlake.com.

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