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Book Ends owners living dream of opening independent store

It’s been a whirlwind ride for Book End owners Jillian Hartine, left, and Lauren Tiedemann. Check out their shop at 559 Main St. in Winchester Center. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS STEVENS

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Soon after Lauren Tiedemann and Jillian Hartline met they discovered they both had a long held dream to open an independent bookstore – what they didn’t know was that in less than a year that dream would come true.

“We were thinking we’d have a five-year plan,” Tiedemann said.

But it turned out to be a six-month plan.

An inside peek at Book Ends, but you should go check it out yourselves. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS STEVENS

The pair were both working for Barnes & Noble when they met in 2021 at a manager’s meeting. Hartline said after the meeting, a group of them went out for drinks and she and Tiedemann quickly learned they had very similar ambitions.

“We got to talking and found out we both had a dream to one day own a bookstore,” Hartline said.

With years of corporate training under their belts, the pair began in April 2022 to work on a five-year plan to open a store together. Hartline said they were talking about the type of store they wanted, what kind of books they’d offer and looking into small business loans.

But a two short months later, in June, they heard that Book Ends, a cherished Winchester book shop, was going on the market. Tiedemann said by August, they had put in an offer and it was accepted. Two months after working out all the details, the two signed on the dotted line.

“We signed the papers on Oct. 31, Halloween,” Hartline said.

They had planned to make the signing an event, with family and photographs, but just like the five-year plan, things didn’t quite work out as they thought. Tiedemann said they were dressed for a Halloween party when they got the call from their lawyer to come sign the papers.

Hartline said they still had their moment, complete with photographs it’s just that in the pictures she is dressed as a princess and Tiedemann is dressed as a cat.

“It was kind of fitting,” Tiedemann said with a laugh.

A year and a half in, Hartline still seems a little surprised at the speed of their adventure.

“The whole thing was so fast,” she said.

“But how often does an existing store with an amazing customer base come on the market?” Tiedemann added.

Jillian Hartine, left, and Lauren Tiedemann show off some of their favorite titles in Book Ends. The pair bought the independent bookstore in November 2022. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS STEVENS

Learning curve

Neither woman has any regrets about taking the leap, but both admitted there’s been a steep learning curve.

“We’ve learned a lot in a very short amount of time,” Hartline said.

While their corporate backgrounds selling and buying experience, has been a real strength in some ways, it’s also been a weakness. Hartline said they’ve had to learn to navigate things like human resources and getting insurance, things their corporate office took care of in the past.

“We don’t have a home office to fall back on anymore,” Tiedemann said. “We are the home office.”

Tiedemann said owning any small business is inherently stressful, but they are taking it in great, happy strides.

“It’s been awesome,” Tiedemann said. “It’s the greatest and the most stressful job ever.”

“There is always a flow you have to figure out,” Hartline added.

The store

The corner store is split pretty much 50/50 between adult and children’s books. The spaces are filled with bookshelves as one might imagine, and tables stacked with colorful covered novels, fiction and non-fiction, sci-fi, horror, romance and more, yet it doesn’t feel crowded.

One of the quirkier books you’ll find among the offerings at Book Ends. Lauren Tiedemann called it a great gift idea! WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS STEVENS

And mixed in with the general titles, Hartline said you’ll also discover some quirkier finds like “Beer Hiking New England” that pairs 50 craft breweries with handpicked hikes. Tiedemann said they’ve actually had people buy the book then stop by to tell them of their adventure.

Or “Shark Heart, A Love Story.”

Hartline said last year she read “Shark Heart,” a book about a man who gradually turns into a great white shark, “and I made everyone read it.”

Written by Cambridge author Emily Habeck, Hartline admits it’s a hard sell for some, but she called it an incredibly beautiful love story and said everyone she’s convinced to read it has said “it’s great!”

Along with sharing great reads, Hartline said their goal with the store is to build community.

She said there are kids that will come after school and hang out in the children’s room for an hour or so, which she loves. There are story times for little ones and a middle grade book club and a number of adult events, including a wine tasting.

Jillian Hartline picks out a few of her favorite books. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS STEVENS

In fact their goal is to one day add a wine bar. Tiedemann, who has studied to be a sommelier, said there is no casual place to go in town for a glass of wine and a conversation.

“There are pubs and restaurants and they are awesome,” she said, “but it’s a different atmosphere.”

Keeping it local, keeping it independent

Partnering with local businesses is another goal for Book Ends.

Hartline said there is an event in July that nearly every kid in town knows about. That is when Book Ends holds its town-wide Where’s Waldo search in conjunction with Candlewick Press, which publishes the “Where’s Waldo” books. The event sends kids to businesses all over town looking for the bespectacled, red and white striped shirt wearing wanderer.

“We move him every day,” she said. “It’s a great way to partner with all the local businesses.”

They also have a Book and Brews Spring Book Fair coming up at Medford Brewing.

Tiedemann said they also work with local businesses by not working against them.

Right down the street at 626 Main St. is The Book and Board, a comic book store. Tiedemann said they don’t stock graphic novels because Book and Board carries them all and they are happy to send customers their way. Likewise, she added, Book and Board often has customers looking for books they don’t carry and will send them up the street to Book Ends.

“We want all the indies to succeed,” Hartline said.

They are also happy to order books or reach out to other independent bookstores if a customer is looking for something they don’t stock.

“Whatever we can do to keep them from buying it on Amazon,” Tiedemann said.

Jillian Hartine, left, and Lauren Tiedemann went all in when Book Ends came on the market in 2022 and made their dreams come true. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS STEVENS

Feeling the love

While Amazon might only be a click away, Hartline said residents have been very supportive of their efforts and given the fact that the bookstore is 40 years old, she and Tiedemann feel confident that people want them to succeed.

“I think we’re a great community bookstore,” she said. “The staff is really knowledgeable, we’re all readers so whether you come in knowing what you’re looking for or if you’re looking for a great recommendation, we’re here for you.”

Check out Book Ends hours, selections and upcoming events at https://www.bookendswinchester.com/ and follow them on Instagram @bookendswinchester for recommendations and upcoming events.

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