Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

How an injury turned a dentist into independent bookstore owner

Contributing Writer //September 11, 2023//

How an injury turned a dentist into independent bookstore owner

Contributing Writer //September 11, 2023//

Listen to this article

When one door closes, another one opens. At least that’s the saying upon which friends generally rely to comfort one another when jobs or opportunities are lost. For one couple that familiar saying ended up being an accurate prediction when Our Next Chapter opened on Sept. 1 at 326 Main St. in Conway.

Bob Martire worked as a dentist prior to opening the 1,500-square foot bookstore with his wife Lisa. That is, until an unfortunate accident changed his life forever. The Conway resident’s car hydroplaned and slammed into a barrier in the Myrtle Beach area.

“When I broke my wrist in the accident, I thought I had no more purpose,” Martire said, that is until his wife came upon the idea of opening a book store.

“We used to always joke that when we retired, we would open a store, so when we moved to Conway, we thought of a knickknack store. It’s kind of a crazy idea that we would go from a knickknack store to a bookstore, but it works,” said Lisa Martire, adding that the closest Barnes and Noble is currently 40 minutes away from their new bookstore.

“We credit it Hillary Howard of Conway Downtown Alive for finding it for us,” said Lisa.

The couple transformed what was a clothing boutique to a homey, comfortable place where people can relax and decompress. They chose a navy blue for the walls and a cream color for the shelves.

An injury sustained in a car crash would lead former dentist Bob Martire and his wife, Lisa, to open a bookstore. (Photo/Provided)“We hung a lot of pictures that we’ve taken and Bob makes Lego puzzles like an Eiffel Tower and the Titanic. I make 3-D puzzles that I brought in and I also collect teapots,” said Lisa, adding that the 600-square foot reading nook is almost like the study in her home and will be used for meetings, book clubs and an 11 a.m. story hour for children on Saturdays.

Learning the ropes

The couple, who will sell all new books comprising a litany of genres, possessed no previous bookstore experience and had to delve into bookstore-running 101. This included doing quite a bit of homework, something that isn’t unfamiliar to Lisa, who works as a teacher during the day.

“I followed the American Booksellers Association and their feeds,” said Lisa, adding that her daughter, who works for Taylor & Francis, known as one of the world’s leading academic publishers, also helped. Lisa also credits Paz and Associates, a Florida-based bookstore training group, for helping the couple negotiate the sometimes-tricky bookstore niche.

SCORE, an organization that is funded, in part, by the U.S. Small Business Association and has helped more than 11 million entrepreneurs start, grow and even successfully exit a business, was also called in for mentoring help.

Lisa also reached out to her bookstore peers for aiding and assisting the new bookstore owners.

“We emailed a few independent bookstores around the country and followed them on Instagram. We also did a SWOT analysis, where we listed our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, in order to make smart decisions,” said Lisa.

With all that information at their disposal, all the couple needed before opening was secure a business loan. According to Bob, that ended up being quite the challenge because the couple was new to the bookselling industry

“We ended up having to take out a personal loan from my husband’s retirement,” said Lisa.

As for now, the couple doesn’t see a need for employees, since Bob is retired and can oversee things while Lisa works at a school district. “I have a few years to go yet before I retire,” said Lisa.

As for the future, they’re working on building their customer base and can foresee the store being the hub for book clubs, meetings and more.

“We’re just happy to be a part of the business community is this nice, small, quaint downtown that is being revitalized with restaurants and retail,” Lisa said. “It is indeed our next chapter in life and we’re really looking forward to what the future brings.”

Stefanie Kalina-Metzger is a contributing writer for SC Biz News.