We had the good fortune of connecting with Megan & Kyle Murai and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Megan & Kyle, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Whenever we travel to different cities and countries we seek out independent bookstores almost as ardently as we seek out good food and drink. It’s been a long time dream of ours to open an independent bookstore that felt like somewhat of a pipe dream. But we were getting coffee one day and looked in the window of the vacant retail space next door and thought it’d be a perfect location and space for a bookstore. So we started doing the research to determine what it would take to open a bookshop and things just started to fall in place. We took a lot of time to weigh the risks and run the numbers, but at the end of the day it came down to deciding if this was something we believed in and if we thought it would enrich and bring joy to our community. We believed it would and so we went for it! A big part of that decision was rooted in our love of books and our belief in their importance when it comes to learning and understanding the world. And we believed in our community– that they would value and rally behind a little bookstore. Our community is a huge part of shaping and growing our bookstore and having their support was essential
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We are an independent bookstore that sells new books, located in midtown Ventura, CA. We hope to be a purveyor of excellent words and stories that reverberate with the mystery, struggle, beauty, and wisdom of being human. We get excited about all of the potential and possibilities that an independent bookstore can offer to a community. Providing a space for everyone, whether they are new to reading, apprehensive about reading, a book fiend, or anywhere in between we want our community to feel comfortable perusing the shelves and engaging in conversations about books.
A big mental challenge we had was the unknown of opening during a pandemic (our Grand Opening was October 17, 2020) and the unknowns for businesses being able to stay open in coming months. We had to constantly remind ourselves that, to us, it was worth the risk. We also had a pretty quick turn around from when we decided we wanted to open a bookstore to when we actually opened our doors (6 months), so it was a challenge to get everything done as quickly as possible and in some ways we underestimated how much work it would be to raise funding, buildout the space ourselves, and stock the shelves in such a short time. By the time of our grand opening we were pretty tired, but our family is amazing and really helped us get the doors open in October. We couldn’t have done it without their help.
Now we are looking forward to expanding our engagement with the community. Holding readings and poetry nights, workshops and book groups, kids events and author events, and so many more exciting possibilities are all huge reasons why we wanted to open in the first place so it will be really fun to get those rolling.
When we were in the initial stages of brainstorming and planning our business we made a commitment to welcome all people, to advocate for the power of the written word, and to preserve the magic of books. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of how these values can manifest and shape the bookstore and we’re excited to see how they grow us into the best bookstore we can be for our community.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ventura is full of so many wonderful small businesses. We’d have to start with coffee at either Prospect Coffee Roaster or our neighbors Singing Sun. Most likely a trip to both throughout the same day would be ideal because who only wants one coffee?!
We’d have to take a stroll through downtown Ventura which has a bunch of great shops and restaurants. The Ventura pier is a fun area to hang out. A stop at Topa Topa Brewing Co. would be a must as well. Great beer and good vibes
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We wouldn’t be here without the huge support of our awesome Ventura community. Our family and close friends have helped in so many ways from helping us build bookshelves, to organizing books on shelves, to watching the store for us and ultimately believing in our vision and dreams for the bookstore
All portraits by Kern Ducote