We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Webb and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
“I want to open a bookstore.” I announced in the fall of 2019. Some people were thrilled at the idea of having a local bookstore. Others gave me the half cocked look. I knew they were thinking, do people still read books? My husband’s stomach churned. Our kids were out of the house and he was looking forward to getting us financially positioned for eventual retirement. And here I was wanting to potentially put us in a financial bind. I was undeterred and plowed ahead to show him this could work. I have always wanted to have a business of my own but didn’t do the work to focus that desire into a productive internal discussion of what the business should be. Most of my ideas were reasonable but not my passion and would inevitably fizzle. My work experience included some office jobs and a lot of retail from working in a small store (just the owner and myself), to managing a department for a multi-million dollar store (with a variety of stops along the way). For many years I’d resented the amount of time I’d spent in retail feeling I hadn’t utilized my best skills or the money spent on my degree. It left me feeling unfulfilled career wise. Then I took the time to do a personal inventory of what I enjoy – reading, learning, sharing knowledge, and seeing others grow in their own knowledge and confidence. A good spreadsheet makes me happy, and diving into details is fun. Some of my best memories had been centered around books and bookstores. I still have a bookmark from a store I used to shop during my childhood. On vacation I always insist on visiting the local independent bookstore. I remember once looking up from a book and asking my mother if we’d had dinner. There had been a description of a most fabulous meal in the book and I really couldn’t fathom what was real and what wasn’t. My first real job had even been at a small children’s bookstore and I loved it. Life finally made more sense. I realized all the skills I had learned by working in such a variety of stores and positions were an immense storehouse of knowledge. I actually wondered why it had taken me so long to come to this realization. A bookstore just made sense.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
While I haven’t opened my store yet, the development process has taught me an immense amount about searching for resources, not being afraid to ask questions about the things I don’t understand, and tapping into the network of friends and talents that I have around me. I am learning new things about myself and what motivates me on a daily basis which are then helping me to form a vision for what I want the store to represent in my community. Never underestimate the people around you. In many ways I could not have done this in my 20’s. These past thirty years of assorted jobs, sustaining a marriage, raising children, and doing volunteer work have given me a solid sense of self. Now in my 50’s I am not afraid to articulate what I want and how I would like that accomplished. At the same time, I have gained the wisdom to know when to listen to others and learn what i need to from them. An independent bookstore is not just a place to buy something. It is a place of gathering and of community. Books are chosen carefully to reflect the community. We work hard to carry gift items that complement our books and are often from Colorado artists. People of all ages are encouraged to come in to find a book that will help them explore, escape, and maybe even to learn a little bit. But most of all it is a treasure that they can take home and revisit whenever they would like.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Windsor, while not a large town is beginning to have a surprising variety of restaurants. Last I counted we had 4 brewpubs in town and even a distillery. High Hops Brewery and The Heart Distillery grew out of the family run Windsor Gardener and are a boisterous unpretentious place. Mr. Yo’s Donuts are a hot ticket. If you don’t get there early they may be sold out and closed for the day. We’ve even added a sushi bar downtown called YUZU Asian Cafe. Downtown has a lot of food options at a variety of price points. For entertainment there’s the Summit which has a small bowling alley, video games, and even laser tag. The Rec Center has a ton to offer including the indoor aquatic center. Downtown has a small shopping district with some fun shops and Manweiler Hardware which is truly an old fashioned hardware store with sometimes unexpected finds. One of the best things about Windsor is how easily you can get to Horsetooth Reservoir west of Fort Collins for a lazy afternoon of boating, or through the Big Thompson Canyon to visit Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Northeast of town is the Pawnee National Greasslands and the Pawnee Buttes. They have nesting bald eagles that you can sometimes see flying overhead. And the bike trails will take you all around Northern Colorado. We don’t have a lot of hotels in town but there are a lot around The Ranch and the Budweiser Event Center. It is so fun go watch the Colorado Eagles hockey team. While they are technically not in Windsor, they are just across the town line so close enough@
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Bookstore owners are a welcoming group and glad to share their knowledge and experiences to others daring to dip their toes in to an industry with low margins and long hours that rarely make their owner’s millionaires. We all may be competitors but they understand bookstores as important touchpoints of their respective communities that make for a better society. They impart and attitude that more bookstores can only be a good thing for the world in general and welcome to our corner of it. Even though I am not sure which of them I will ever meet in person, they are a source of knowledge and re-assurance that cannot be overstated. My husband, Ian, has asked me the tough questions when I needed them, given me guidance in the areas he could, and given me the room to work towards this goal, And while he wasn’t thrilled that I flew cross country in late summer 2020 to attend an intensive “boot camp” workshop, he was supportive of my learning all that I could to be successful in this endeavor. He has even stayed by my side as I decided a major house re-organization and update needed to be done in the middle of planning the store opening (because it will of course make things better in the long run I convinced him). Our children have been quiet cheerleaders throughout this process. They haven’t balked when I asked if they would like to sometimes work at the store even knowing that they won’t be my kids at that point, they would be employees and not get any special treatment. We’ll see how that goes. I cannot begin to count the number of friends who have given me the encouragement and listened as I’ve rambled on about sometimes small details of this process. They have helped to sustain me when my husband needed a break from my stress.
Website: wordsofwindsor.com – we’re still developing the website so keep checking on us!