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Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Book it to The Nook

New book store graces Main Street
Above is one of the many shelves filled to the brim with books in The Nook. Abby Olson, co-owner, wants to expand the collection so that there is a book for everyone in the store.

Abby Olson and Brandon Conrad, business and life partners, opened the brand new storefront for The Nook this past Saturday. They were met with a line that wrapped around the block on Main Street. From figuring out how to make a candle, to renting a booth at the Cob Mercantile, and finally finding a home for their cozy local bookshop, their business adventure has been like no other. 

The Nook exists because I love books and I always wanted there to be a book store on Main Street.

— Abby Olson, co-owner of The Nook

Olson is a 2022 graduate from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor’s in marketing, and Conrad graduated with an associates from Hawkeye in 2021. For the couple, their adventure started while working at the Olson family pumpkin patch in Cedar Falls, The Patch. “I’ve always made things. I would make stickers and jewelry to sell at the Patch, so I say to Brandon, ‘you should make something!’ and he did!” Olson’s encouragement to Conrad led to Conrad making candles, and thus became Sage Candle & Co. “A lot of people tell me they’ve tried to make candles and really struggled with it. I’ve loved getting to figure it out and enjoy the process,” said Conrad. The couple said a lot of their ideas start with just that, an idea. “The Nook exists because I love books and I always wanted there to be a bookstore on Main Street,” Olson said. “And here we are!” For the couple, it’s the follow through that makes all the difference. “The follow through is the most important thing. There are ideas that I have that I tell Brandon and then he just…does it!” She laughed. Getting the spot on Main Street the Olson wanted took the pair time, and lots of it. “We probably looked for about a year,” Olson said. “I came into Miss Wonderful’s with a box of candles one day and asked the owner, Ann, if would want to sell them. She was our first ever wholesale customer.” A couple months later, the Cob Mercantile opened just a shop down from Miss Wonderful. The Cob Mercantile operates as a store that other smaller businesses can rent booths in, displaying their merchandise and products for customers. This was The Nook’s first home. “We rented a booth at the Cob and began selling books, our merchandise, stickers, candles, in our little booth. Before we knew it, we’d almost outgrown our booth,” said Olson. “We decided it was time to start looking for our own storefront, and Ann announced that she was closing Miss Wonderful. She caught us in the parking lot one day and asked if we’d be interested in the space. We just couldn’t turn it down!”

The Nook is brightly decorated for the festive Christmas season. Aside from their vast collection of books, The Nook also sells candles, jewelry, bags and other trinkets. (BAILEY KLINKHAMMER)

 Thus, Olson and Conrad decided it was time to pack up their booth at the Cob Mercantile and turn The Nook into a full-fledged bookstore. The pair acquired the store in September, but didn’t have time to work on it until two weeks before the store was scheduled to make its grand opening. “During the fall months, we spend a majority of our days helping my family out over at The Patch, so it was hard to find time to come over here and work. There were a lot of late nights spent getting the store ready,” Olson said. “A majority of the work was in painting, setting up the bookshelves, and organizing our books,” Conrad added. “We spent a lot of time just organizing and arranging.” Their hard work paid off. This past weekend, when The Nook opened its doors for the first time to the public, Olson and Conrad were met with a line that wrapped around the block. “It was very, very unexpected.” Olson said. The couple estimates that around 1,000 people visited their store on Saturday. “I don’t know the exact numbers, but there were a lot of people,” Olson laughed. “My dad was at the front of the store at the door acting as our ‘bouncer’. He helped us make sure that there were a safe amount of people in the store at all times. He was a huge help.” The Nook offered free Moo’s Bakery cookies to the first 50 people in the store. “Obviously, those didn’t last very long,” Conrad laughed. 

The store is filled with Christmas decorations, books, jewelry, tote bags, candles, and stickers. Since The Nook has expanded, they’ve also expanded their book collection. A wide variety of cookbooks, children’s books, and nonfiction books have been added to their ever growing collection. “My goal is to make sure there’s a book for everyone in this store.” Olson said. 

As for the future, the couple is hoping to continue to expand their book collection and build their website to make online orders for customers, whether they want to pick up in store or have the book shipped directly to their house. For now, customers can find The Nook on Instagram or at 216 Main Street, where the store is open every day of the week! 

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