Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Samantha Eads, co-owner of Morgenstern Books, located in Bloomington, IN, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are an independent bookstore — the largest in the state of Indiana. We also have a popular café and sell artisan goods and gifts sourced locally. We host author talks, music, and other cultural events. We are really a community and cultural hub for Bloomington and the county. We are also quite a comeback story. Morgenstern’s is a reboot of a legendary Bloomington Indie bookstore (Morgenstern Bookseller) that thrived from 1990-1996 until the national chains moved in. The “new” Morgenstern’s opened on July 26, 2021, and was an immediate success. Our customers are really a cross-section of Bloomington, including many students from Indiana University, to seniors who fondly remember the original bookstore. In general, I would say it’s a very well-educated demographic, many of whom are committed to shopping local and supporting local businesses.

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in Southern Indiana and California. My professional background is as a nurse practitioner. Before the pandemic, I had returned to school to work towards a doctorate in Integrative Health and Healing, with the intention of opening an integrative health center. I had completed my first year of studies and was about to begin the second year when my husband and I met Rick Morgenstern and his wife. Rick was the founder of the original Morgenstern’s and seeking partners to re-open the store after 25 years. My husband had a lifelong dream to have a bookstore someday. As we got to know Rick more, we realized our visions intersected. Rick envisioned a welcoming space that would bring people together from the community, with not only books but cultural programming, a cafe, and local arts and crafts. It felt like an integrated and healing vision to me, a place for connection and healing. We decided to join Rick and two others as partners in the new Morgenstern. For now, I decided to defer my studies to help manage the new bookstore. It sounds like a cliché, but this feels like what I was called to do for now, as it grabbed me. It’s a privilege, and it feels really nice.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

On one level, I’m proud that we’ve exceeded expectations and proven that an Indie bookstore like ours can thrive in this community. You know, this is a start-up, a new business. There are a lot of challenges. Yet we’ve been able to create a culture within the space of acceptance, forgiveness, and best intentions. So I would say the biggest accomplishment is that we’ve been able to generate this culture. Really, a feeling of unconditional love. I’m really proud of that.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I think one of the hardest things is to have expectations but not be completely tethered to them. To have an idea of how you would like something to go, remain open to the fact that it may not be that way.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Listen to the people around you.
  2. Be receptive to an opinion but firm in your convictions.
  3. Encourage honesty accountability, and assume the best intentions from your team.

Where can people find you and your business?


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