Hatteberg's People - Anita Siemer, Al's Old Bookstore


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Wichita, Kan. -- Small bookstores are a tough proposition. You have to compete with the giants on the Internet. Now, a bookstore in Wichita’s Delano district, that’s been in the area for 60 years, has to move.

The building has been sold. For owner Anita Siemer, it’s nearly overwhelming, moving 50,000 books and a piece of Delano history.

“I smile when I come in the door, it’s like I’m coming into my ‘happy’ place.”

It’s called ‘Al’s Old Bookstore, but the original owners are long-gone. It was nine years ago when Anita Siemer decided to buy it. A decision she has never regretted.

“One day I tried to come into my favorite bookstore, but the door was locked and there was a ‘For Sale’ sign, and I was horrified to think that the bookstore might close or go away, and so I spent my inheritance on a bookstore.”

Years ago, in another life, Anita was a mechanical engineer, but books had always been her love. Early on she was Dyslexic, but overcoming that, reading became as natural as breathing.

“I really, really enjoy reading. And I really want other people to enjoy reading.”

Now, the bookstore has to move. So Anita is looking for another space. A space to put her old friends….the books.

“They are a gift. If someone buys one of my nicest copies that I’m most attached to, I’ll tell them to make sure you give it a good home.”

She even has old National Geographic’s going back to 1916.

“There is good information in them, more than you might realize. And we have indexes to help people search to find just the right one.”

Anita has to be out of her building here on West Douglas by the end of June.

Where the bookstore will end up….that is still a question mark.

“I’ve always said, I can move the bookstore if I have to. I always felt like I could. But just moving 50,000 heavy books, is kind of daunting.”

But the good news is, the little bookstore will continue...somewhere.

“And I really, really am happy here every day, nine years of working here. Every day, I smile when I come in.”


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