When I have you all over here at PPB, you know that I love to acknowledge the Price family for making Prairie Path Books possible. But it's not often enough that I applaud my Valentine of 35 years, Dave Koropp, for his PPB support. I'm not sure what other virgin retailers go through in their journey to a grand opening, but I can tell you this of mine - it's a ton about Dave loving me. You see ... he is my York High School sweetheart (1983) and U of I college/law school soulmate (B.A. 1987/JD '90), Wheaton husband + commuting young legal co-professional (circa 1991), then District 200 parent of children (2001 - ), now parent of WWSHS 17 year old + Hyde Park 19 and 20-year-olds — but always sweetheart — Dave.
Dave. To whom I said "I'm thinking about opening a bookstore," in February 2014. And Dave said "You'd be great, you should." And so I did. And that's a powerful love.
Yep, him and me been together since I was sixteen - and this photo is of us on one of our first dates - a York High School dance called "SNOWBALL" in February, 1981. See, Dave and I went to a few teen dances, then we were together all through college and law school and then I married him right after I took the Bar Exam (1990), and headed straight (with my nose) onto the grindstone. I have a large capacity for work - for better or worse. I can sit and concentrate (read) for a very very long time. Like most students or bookstore owners I guess. So I worked very very hard until I was 31 and Dave and I looked up from said stone that 'twas grinding and decided it was time for Hannah, Emma and Tom.
After a rather giant personal transition, I stayed home with those three - leaving my legal career behind. Long story short - when Tom was 14, I began to cast about for a new placement of my stone-grinding energies. And thus was born the idea for Prairie Path Books. I hadn't traditionally earned money for 14 years so retail loans were difficult to negotiate - plus I was damned scared. I had no experience in bookstore retail (other than buying books), but plenty of chutzpah.
But I had a secret weapon - my Valentine, Dave. When I said "I'm ready to work full-time again, but nawwww - not at a law firm, I want to open a bookstore," he said "if anyone can do it you can." I think that's because he loves me. Plus, because we raised our kids literally chest-deep in books and we two still go at it (two lawyers??!) discussing ideas based on books. Just books.
So, if you're ever wondering what the business plan for small town retail looks like — know that in my case it's got a big ol' Valentine on the cover page. On this 36th anniversary of the Snowball dance - thanks to my Valentine - and I love you, Dave Koropp. Happy Valentine's Day!