Q&A with New Beaverdale Books Co-Owner Hunter Gillum
Beaverdale Books regulars will probably already recognize the local bookstore’s new co-owner, Hunter Gillum, who not only worked at the store for years, but has its own book club.
Born in Indianola, Gillum moved to Iowa City for college before graduating in 2015 and returning to central Iowa, where he eventually started working at the local bookstore.
Beaverdale Books, 2629 Beaver Ave, opened in 2006 by Alice Meyer, who remains co-owner of the store. Gillum became store manager around 2017 and was officially named co-owner with Meyer on January 1.
On January 13, the Des Moines Register sat down with Meyer and Gillum to talk about the transition.
Q&A with Gillum and Meyer
Des Monks Register: How did you start working at Beaverdale Books?
Hunter Gillum: (In 2015) I just sent (my CV) just so (Alice) would have it somehow. And then she got me in about a week later,…I started later that same week…In the fall, I was here full time for vacation.
DMRs: What do you like most about Beaverdale Books?
Gillum: I was a book lover before I came here, and it’s just like… kind of a book lover’s dream, doing all this stuff, like rearranging your books, or sorting your books and stuff like that, things I would do at home.
Alice Meyer: And (probably last year) he took over the store’s purchases. Because at the time, I think I was doing buying, events and accounting. He just developed great relationships with our sales reps and really amplified the titles we were selling in the store just by being able to meet with them and increase our inventory.
DMRs: How has the bookstore been in the last two or three years of the pandemic?
Gillum: Even before the pandemic, it was a lot of work.
Mayer: When it comes to the pandemic, people have really come through for us. Sales have been good and we are at a very good transition point (in co-ownership with Hunter.) We are quite confident that it will be a success.
DMRs: How long has this transition been underway?
Mayer: I’ve always had a schedule to myself… and I just recognize that (Hunter) is the right person for the job… We were actually planning on doing it last fall, but things were still a little crazy and it didn’t work. does not happen.
DMRs: Why is Hunter the right person to hire as a co-owner?
Mayer: I think the first thing I always look for when hiring someone is their reading habits. I knew it was there. And he’s so good with customers and people rely on him for recommendations…and (him) taking charge of purchases has been a godsend for me.
DMRs: What is your top book recommendation from 2021?
Hunter: I think I just read about 45 books, which is a down year for me…As I’ve expanded my role here, I’ve seen the number of books I read go down and decrease and decrease…I think if I added up all the books I’d read 100 pages of and liked and then had to move on to the next wave of new…I’m sure I’m close of what I was doing. (Now) it’s just a lot more reading to get an idea of something and then be able to help customers with it…
I liked “The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven”. Then I liked (“Crossroads” by) Jonathan Franzen. There were so many great books last year that I liked… I read a lot more fiction last year than usual. I normally have a pretty even spread.
Hunter Gillam’s end-of-year recommendations
Recommendations from others at Beaverdale Books can be viewed at beaverdalebooks.com.