Connie Maglio was inspired to open Around Again & Again Books because retirement doesn’t suit her./Photo by Justin Heyes, Moonloop Photography
Seven years ago, Connie Maglio was restless in retirement. When she stopped by Around Again Books to donate a book she’d just finished reading, she struck up a conversation with the store’s owner, who gave her a part-time job. When the store closed in 2017, Maglio took custody of all the books, placing them in storage while she figured out what to do with them. It didn’t take long; the 79-year-old confesses that she’s terrible at being retired. “When you’re retired, what’s your reason for living? I have too much energy to stay at home.”
She told her friend Alecia Sheerin about her plan out of the blue one night over dinner. “I want to open a bookstore,” she said, “and I’m going to leave it to you.” That was that. The new name—Around Again & Again Books—honored its previous incarnation.
Photo by Justin Heyes, Moonloop Photography
The two friends found a location they liked in a tiny strip mall on Philadelphia Pike, and Maglio invested a chunk of her retirement and an inheritance from a late friend into renovations. They, dusted off the drawers full of index cards used by the store’s previous owner to track store credit and started making phone calls.
To some in the book sales industry, Maglio’s decision might look like she’s swimming upstream. Recent years have seen the mass closure of brick-and-mortar bookstores across the country, and Delaware’s been no exception. Around Again’s 2017 closure was joined by Newark’s Bookateria, Wilmington’s 9th Street Book Shop and Smyrna’s Acorn Books, the last general-use bookstore in Kent County.
Maglio knows the risks, emblazoning the wall of the shop with her motto and mission statement, “Keep Books Alive.” She’s encouraged by support from the surrounding community. In the time between the start of the phone calls and the store’s October opening, inquirers would walk into neighboring stores asking about the shop’s progress.
She’s treated the first few months as a “soft open,” keeping advertising to a minimum while she worked out the newly added inventory and customer-tracking software.
Despite the slow start, the store has made a small-but-steady profit, and nearly 500 new customers have signed up for the new store credit system—this time, unlike many of the customer credit index cards, with contact information included.
Maglio is overflowing with ideas for the future. She’s planning a “Consulting Panel for Children’s Reading” for the end of the summer and talks about hosting authors with new titles. “I don’t think about being (79),” she says, “I’m gonna be immortal.”
For her, this is just her life’s next chapter. “You’ll get there one time in your life,” she says, “you’ll be at the end of your journey at work and think, ‘Now what do I do with my life?’ That’s what I do with mine.”