Family-Owned Stores Meet Needs of Community
By JESSICA BROVERMAN
WHEELING — One local business owner believes family-owned stores not only offer everyday merchandise, but also meet important wants and needs of the public that larger chains may not be able to fulfill.
Alan Lestini, owner of Words and Music Bookshop, is currently celebrating the store’s 28th year in business and takes much pride in running an operation that thrives thanks to its community.
“We’re locally owned so we pay our taxes here, we live here, we shop locally as much as I possibly can. I think it’s a reciprocal thing where we give to the community and the community supports us and then we go out and support other businesses, plus personal service — especially with this weather,” Lestini said.
Rather than looking at deplorable weather as being bad for business, Lestini has taken it upon himself to exemplify dedication to his customers.
“I have done a lot of personal deliveries to people — especially when I have customers who call and they’re elderly and I know they can’t get out. So I’ll just say, ‘Look, I’m coming after 5 o’clock and I’ll drop the book off to you.’ My dad was a pharmacist and he’s retired now, and I grew up in his pharmacy. It was old-fashioned, so that’s how I grew up and that’s how I know retail,” Lestini added.
Words and Music is a complete bookstore, offering anything from best-sellers to children’s books and special orders, according to Lestini. Some options that are unavailable at larger chains are local works.
“We specialize in local stuff and history. Anything like old music, local artwork — we do as much local connection as we can. ‘The Murder Never Dies’ sold over 800 copies (here), which is about the mafia in Wheeling. We order anything and usually get stuff between one to two days. We do out-of-prints and we’ll search for out-of-print copies,” Lestini said.
The bookshop also offers vinyl records, audio tapes and personalized gifts such as purses made from any book according to the customers preference. As Words and Music competes with larger chains, Lestini is confident that his stores location and repeat customers will keep the business moving forward.
“People are tactile — they want to feel, see and touch it and I’ve had a lot of people who owned electronic readers, but have come back to books. We’ve had people ask us to move here and move there and I’ve looked at things like that, but Stratford is such a nice place and it’s close to Oglebay Park, which gives us the ability to get out of town people and they come back every year and stop in. We have free parking, which is always good,” said Lestini.