One day in 2002, Carolyn Statler received a call from her sister, Mary Kay Pitts, who informed her that they, along with their other sister, Barbara Rogers, were going to open a bookstore in Shelbyville, Ind., "in honor of their mother, who was an avid reader, and because they all shared a passion for reading," the Shelbyville News reported. That was the genesis of Three Sisters Books & Gifts.
"Like a crazy person, I said, 'OK.' That was basically the end of the conversation," Statler recalled, adding: "Maybe there would have been a better (location), but this was still our dream. I don't think any of us had a moment's regret that this was the location we decided on. It's never going to be the downtown that we remember from 100 years ago but I think a vital downtown is still important to a city. Any part we've had in that has pleased us, certainly."
When the owner of a coffee shop next door later decided not to renew the lease, the three sisters expanded to create the Bookmark Coffee and Co. Rogers said the mission was to provide a "warm and inviting space where people feel comfortable to come."
She also noted that online and chain competition has not been a major concern: "You're always going to find them cheaper somewhere else so it's more about customer service than it is the price of the book. We have loyal customers that will buy regardless of the price. It's convenient, they want to get it here, they want to support us, and then it's not always true on all books that you're going to find it (cheaper) online."
Pitts died earlier this year; Statler and Rogers remain active in the community. "It's who we are and what we wanted to do," Rogers said. "It's important to us to be a part of the community."