We had the good fortune of connecting with Kathe Heinecken and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kathe, what role has risk played in your life or career?
The concept of risk is defined by our fears. If we control our fear, rather than it controlling us, then most risk becomes manageable. When I started Barbed Wire Books, in 2009, I was ending a 25 year marriage, had three jobs to get by and a son entering college. We were experiencing a terrible time in our economy and there didn’t seem to be many choices in terms of starting over. It was scarier to me NOT to open Barbed Wire Books than it was to jump in with both feet. I knew that I did not want to continue with two ranch jobs and a minimum wage retail job. I was confident in my abilities and knew that the store would fill a huge need in Longmont.
People talk about risk in investing, risk in sports, risk in relationships- what’s important is to know who you are and what you’re capable of. Control what you can and minimize the chances for adverse, uncontrollable reactions.
If you’ve made the right choice, it will all happen easily! That’s what happened with Barbed Wire Books.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Books have always been very important to me. My first job was in a bookstore when I was about 14 years old. I went into construction in my late teens/early twenties and that led to many years driving a semi truck hauling lumber. But there was always a book on the passenger seat beside me! After my son was born I began volunteering at his schools and that led to working with gifted children for quite a long time. I helped start the first charter school in town and then continued to work with kids in various rolls. Literacy and books were always the key.
Doors open when we allow them to and one never knows where they will lead. The name of my store, Barbed Wire Books, came from a desire to pay tribute to the West. The ranching way of life is important to me and, as has been said, cowboys are my weakness!
Each one of these journeys has led me to where I am today. One can’t go through almost 70 years of life without learning that the right decisions are easy and the wrong ones are difficult. Knowing how to recognize them is the key!
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?
Longmont has changed a great deal in the 30 years I’ve lived here. It went from a sleepy little farm and ranch town to a bedroom community of Boulder. For the last 13 years I’ve been pretty much chained to this bookstore so I’m not the best person to act as a tour guide. If they don’t sell it at BWB or the grocery store it won’t be bought by me!
The places that have endured that I would take someone to are the mountains and their little towns, the plains and the small back roads kinds of places that I’ve discovered over the years.
As for businesses, I still love The Cheese Importers, Latigo Lariat and Front Range Mercantile- you never know what youll find in those places. Lunch at Las Palmeras or Santiago’s would make a great day for me!
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?
I went into this as a sole proprietor but I realized early on that it was not a solo operation. Over the years the store has grown exponentially and our purpose in the community has changed a great deal. There’s that ‘independent’ part of an independent book store that is very real in my case but my employees are equally responsible for the success of Barbed Wire Books. I’m grateful for the great people I’ve had and still have. Now, if one of them would just like to take over……