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17 years and counting . . .

17 years ago today the doors to Island Books officially opened. I knew virtually nothing about running a business and, in the grand scheme of things, not much more about books.

8 months earlier on my 35th birthday I came home exhausted from yet another unfulfilling day at work (I had been commuting to Providence to a corporate job 5 days a week for over 3 years) and my dear husband Gary said, “Quit. Just quit. We’ll work it out,” and that’s what we did. Thank you, Gary.

2 years earlier my mother was up visiting and had with her a copy of Working Woman magazine. It had a piece on the best franchises for women – among them was Little Professor Bookstores. A seed was planted. Thanks, Mom!

I spent those next 2 years researching the ins and outs of the book business. Dreaming about opening a store of my own. I had had other business ideas in mind and did extensive research on them as well, but when I looked at the day to day of them, I couldn’t see myself going to work day in and day out. But with books, the answer was a resounding Yes! New books coming in every day, great customers to talk books with, a connection to my community and the freedom of being my own boss. But how?

I spent the 8 months figuring it out. I visited bookstores, crunched numbers, read publishers catalogs and I borrowed lots of money. Thanks, Dad! And, when I was caught peering into a window in Wyatt Square by owner John Nunes he said, “tell me when you’re ready and we’ll work it out.” Thanks, John.

Then it was count down time. Carpet was laid, shelving delivered, computers bought and books ordered. Then they came – boxes and boxes and boxes of beautiful books! I had the best helpers to shelve them, too! We had planned to open the store on their 13th birthday but were a week late. Thanks, Robin and Eric – you’re the best!

And, I’ve spent these last 17 years loving every minute of it – thanks to all of you!

Join us in our celebrating this Friday, Saturday and Sunday

when we have our 17th Anniversary SALE!


Hope to see you soon!   – Judy


8 Responses


  2. Congratulations to you, Judy, and to the rest of your fantastic staff, book lovers all. A visit to Island Books is always a highlight of my day and has been for the 13 years I’ve been shopping there. Thanks for making me and my family feel welcome while making it so easy to find wonderful things to read. Best wishes and crossing my fingers for 17 more great years.

    • Thanks, Chris! It’s always so great to see you and Jen. Thank you for your support over these many years!
      P.S. Did you see Molly highlighted in the Newport Daily News yesterday? Check it out!

  3. So glad you took that Leap of Faith and for being such
    an AWESOME neighbor for the past 10 years! Here’s to another 10 for me and 17 for you! Congrats, Judy & the entire Island Bookstore Family!!!!!

    Laura and the girls at Body-Wise Therapeutics

    • Thanks, Laura. You’re a pretty darn good neighbor yourself not to mention fabulous massage therapist!

  4. Judy (and all the wonderful crew at Island Books),

    What would Jim and I do without you? Island Books is the first place we go to find great books and great service. Always find something surprising tucked away on the shelf. The care you give to us and to our StarKid, Alannah makes a huge difference. Thank you for being just what we need.

    Ginny and Jim

    • Thanks Ginny! We always love to see you and Alannah come in. It’s been so great to see her enthusiasm for books (and everything else!) grow over the years. And, Bonnie is always so happy to see her! Jim keeps me on my toes – I really have to stay abreast with the new histories and biographies being published to keep him in books! Getting his feedback on what he’s read is so helpful to us, too. We’re always able to sell more copies of a book that he recommends. You guys are the best!

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