• Jessica Stephenson

Where the Heart Lies.

Lit. on Fire is about to have its fifth birthday on July 3rd. I’m sad that I can’t have a huge party like I had been hoping to for, well, FIVE YEARS. Five years is a huge deal to me. I opened with nothing but a nest egg and have reinvested nearly every penny back into the business. I rarely get to pay myself. In fact, I paid myself $250 total this year. That’s it. I’m grateful to be receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for now to help with lost sales during the pandemic, but living like this for so long has been exhausting.

When I opened, I was told by my SCORE mentors that some businesses won’t make it through their first year, most businesses won’t make it three, and that even less make it to five. I was also told that traditionally funded business owners should expect to have a regular salary within five. I’m not traditionally funded and I’m certainly not there yet, though. I need to let go of the importance of that five year mark, but I still find pride in having made it this far with nothing more than the hard work I’ve personally put into it.

I wanted to buy a nice birthday present for the shop’s fifth birthday, but Covid has made that difficult. I’m running out of shelf space for new books, and it would have been so nice to replace/ upgrade some of my shelving units right about now, but it would cost me a few grand or so which is just not feasible right now. I’m just... bummed. I might try to start getting one piece at a time soon, but Covid is making that difficult, too.

I’m just kind of sad about it all. I wanted to celebrate the five year mark, but it’s just going to have to wait like most things. My son’s health and safety, heck my own health and safety are worth the extra precautions right now. I’m the only mom he’s got, and I’m the only person behind the curtain here at LOF, and I know how much this place means to countless neighbors and community members.

I do want you to know how utterly grateful I am to every one of you who has been taking advantage of curbside pickup and online ordering through Bookshop and Libro.fm. I have so much love for the folx who support me on Patreon, too, and a good smattering of donations big and small from some wonderful people who are invested in LOF’s success. I landed a few small grants too, without which I don’t think I’d still be here to commemorate that five year mark. I’m not looking for advice here or anything, I just... lead with my heart, and I wanted you to know where my heart has been lately.

Take care of yourselves and the ones you love. Keep fighting the good fight. I don’t know when it will be safe for me to reopen again as my son and I are immunocompromised, but I’m weighing the odds and they are weighing heavy on my heart.

All the Love,


Lit. on Fire Used Books


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