A lot can change in five weeks.
For Teddy Boucard, 24, and Elizabeth Peters, 23, five weeks is all it took for them to buy, revamp and reopen a bookstore.
“A month ago, if you would have said this (would happen), we would’ve been like, ‘What are you talking about?’,” Peters says with a grin.
The retail space was formerly T. Blaszczyk & Co., an antique book store that also sold fair-trade items and accessories. When the pandemic hit, the store closed for three months, and owner Tom Blaszczyk says he started to think about things differently and decided that it was time to close the business.
“If COVID didn’t happen, I’d probably still be there,” says Blaszczyk, who also works as a social studies teacher at Lancaster Catholic High School. “I’m in the sunset of my work life; I just really didn’t want to invest the time for the economy to come back.”
Blaszczyk and his wife, Maria, decided that the store’s swan song would be a weekend-long sale. Whatever sold, sold; Blaszczyk wasn’t sure what he would have done with what didn’t sell.
Within a day of the closing sale, Boucard, a former student of Blaszczyk’s, noticed the store was closing and asked if Blaszczyk was interested in selling the business and its inventory.
“It just worked out. We were blessed: my wife and I, and Teddy and Elizabeth,” Blaszczyk says. “I was just beside myself.”
Two days later, Boucard and Peters bought the store’s remaining inventory and they started filling out the paperwork to transfer the business.
And then it was full-steam ahead.
“We made a lot of phone calls. At first, we didn’t realize how much paperwork there was to get into it, but … it was good. A lot of support,” Boucard says.
Just weeks ago, Peters was working as a cash management specialist; now, she’s working full-time at the bookstore. “It kind of feels like a dream; none of this feels real,” Peters says.
Boucard, a full-time chef at The Local Table, says he’ll continue working at the restaurant and work at the store part-time.
Like its predecessor, Read Rose Books will sell antique books and fair-trade products. Boucard and Peters plan to give the store a modern twist by also selling modern books, as well as artwork from rotating, local artists.
In the future, Peters says she wants to start open mic nights, as well as local author roundtables.
“That’s something I’ve been passionate about, is having people supporting each other and showing that you can start really small,” Peters says. “[Open mic nights] could be the first step to something really cool.”
Boucard agrees, and says Lancaster is a great place to foster relationships and “shed a little light” on local artists and authors.
“A big thing with us is that we want to take this platform our store -- and bring everyone in together. Downtown, everybody really comes together,” Boucard says. “So, I’d say we’re going to be doing this the whole time.”
Blaszczyk says that he’s excited about the new life of his former bookstore.
“They’re two good kids, and just full of life like we all were at 23 and 24, you know,” Blaszczyk says. “I think they’ll make it better than what it was.”
Blaszczyk says he’ll continue to mentor Boucard and Peters on the ins-and-outs of owning a business; it’s a tricky time to open one, he says. But he’s not worried.
“I feel very confident in them … they have a lot of energy,” Blaszczyk says. “I think they’re going to be very successful.”