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A Shawnee high schooler opened up her own bookstore where every reader can feel 'represented'

Halley Vincent, owner of Seven Stories bookstore in Shawnee.
Seven Stories
Halley Vincent, owner of Seven Stories bookstore in Shawnee.

Halley Vincent, a freshman at Shawnee Mission North, recently opened Seven Stories book shop with her mom in downtown Shawnee, Kansas. Vincent is now the youngest member of the American Booksellers Association, an organization of independent booksellers.

At the age of 14, Shawnee native Halley Vincent has already opened the bookstore of her dreams.

On a chilly Thursday night during the final Moonlight Market in downtown Shawnee, Halley, with her mom, Alisha Vincent, cut the ribbon to her new space, Seven Stories.

Located at 11109 Johnson Drive, next to the Masonic Lodge and J.C. Barbershop, which used to occupy the space, the bookstore’s walls are lined with a selection of the latest books, inspirational posters and greeting cards.

Previous fundraising efforts by Halley, a freshman at Shawnee Mission North, and her giving spirit have been well noted, both by the Post and the City of Shawnee.

She combined her love of animals and books in a creative way. First, she started donating money generated from selling baked goods to local animal shelters.

From there, it turned into giving away books in front of Shawnee City Hall, with proceeds again going to local shelters. Eventually, it would turn into Halley creating Paws Up KCa nonprofit organization thatsupports animal shelters.

Continuing to give away books, Halley started her own “bookmobile,” a lawnmower with a wagon attached to it which she used to hand out books. Last year, she opened her own bookstore in her mom’s art space.

“It was just kind of a natural fit to start selling books in a physical location that doesn’t move, right?” she said.

In the about 90-foot space, Halley started her dream of a bookstore. Due to space constraints, she had to dream small.

“It was really tiny,” she said. “It was 97 square feet, which is enough room for bookshelves and then, two people and then, you shimmy around each other and it’s super awkward.”

Halley added that it didn’t make it easy for business.

“In our old space, we were really tucked behind everything and hidden,” she said. “So a lot of people didn’t know we even existed.”

Seven Stories has a wide variety of books, from biographies to fantasy to mystery. It also has books available in other languages.

“I’m really big on diverse books,” she said. “We have a few shelves that are bilingual books. The most common are Spanish, Chinese and English and so, we have bilingual Spanish and bilingual Mandarin. I’m always looking for more. We only have two selves with that, but I’d like for that to grow a lot.”

The selection of books is a mixture of Halley’s taste, as well as suggestions from the American Booksellers Association, an organization made up of independent booksellers, of which Vincent is the youngest member.

On the walls are posters of quotes from authors like James Baldwin, Stephen King and Octavia E. Butler. The cards are humorous and fun. Halley and Alisha chat customers up, figuring out where they are in their reading journey and where they want to go. In the future, Halley said she hopes to start up a book club to encourage people to read.

“I want everybody to feel kind of represented when they walk into a bookstore. For me, it’s a very big community place,” Halley said. “It’s a community hub where I get to talk to people, people can come talk to me, and basically just, like, tell me their stories, and tell me about them. And it’s just a really friendly environment.”

The store is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

This story was originally published by the Shawnee Mission Post.

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