New bookstore to open in Wichita, and this one might just make you blush
What started as a way to pass the time during the pandemic now has prompted Jaclyn Wooten to start another business — her third since 2021.
“Kind of during those pandemic days, I really rediscovered my love of reading,” Wooten said.
Specifically, she likes fantasy romance books.
In a roundabout way, her first two businesses led to her starting Blush Bookstore, a romance bookstore that opens Friday at the Garage at Cleveland Corner retail incubator space at First and Cleveland next to Janelle King’s Workroom.
Early in the pandemic, Wooten said, “I sort of was looking for any and all hobbies to try.”
She saw a video of how to engrave on wine glasses.
“One random day, I started engraving glass.”
Wooten created Hogwarts Castle from the Harry Potter books and put it on TikTok.
“It kind of blew up unexpectedly,” she said. “I quickly threw up an Etsy shop.”
That grew into what Wooten, who has a design background, called “a bookish merch online store” called House of Jupiter to sell T-shirts, bags and key chains related to books.
That in turn prompted her next business.
Wooten, the former event director at the Wichita Business Journal, said she realized there aren’t a lot of events for readers beyond author signings. So she and some friends dreamed up a weekend celebration of romance books — think court attire, cocktails and dancing at a fantasy-themed ball — and chose to have it in Baltimore.
Bookish in Baltimore sold out immediately with enough participants for a second weekend.
“So we kind of knew we were on to something there.”
They then created Bookish Events and are having their next book weekend in Dallas on the second weekend in April.
The customer base for Bookish Events and House of Jupiter is spread around the country and even the world, Wooten said, “which kind of brings me to Blush in a way.”
Locally, she said, “No one has any idea . . . what I’m up to or all these things that I’ve done.”
Wooten said she wanted to connect with other readers in the Wichita area, which is why she’s now starting Blush for books and what she called “cozy essentials for reading.”
The store also will carry a “curated selection of annotated supplies,” such as items readers need to make highlights, notes and tabs in books.
Wooten’s idea corresponded with the availability of the incubator space. It’s the original of the three incubator spaces that are part of the Garages program, which is primarily funded by the Knight Foundation at the Wichita Foundation.
The store opens Friday.
“I’m really tuned into the special romance reader niche,” Wooten said. “I’m so looking forward to being able to bring that to my local community and to connect to other readers here where I live.”