The death of Shaman Drum Bookshop and the slow demise of Borders tore a hole in the heart of Ann Arbor. Lowe and Gustafson think they can fill the void for a "general interest" downtown bookstore. They hasten to add: "Downtown has several specialty bookstores, and Nicola's is a quality general bookstore--but not downtown."
Lowe, twenty-seven, who grew up in Ann Arbor and worked in New York as a sales rep for Simon & Schuster, will manage the front of the house. Gustafson, thirty, is from Grand Rapids, has a background in film and creative writing, and will handle the marketing and social media.
Literati was leveraged into being with plenty of help on a number of fronts, including the Internet. The web killed Borders and Shaman Drum, but Gustafson used it to rev up customers months before Literati opened. He says his blog posts have a "reach" of 10,000 readers, and the store's Facebook page had around 2,000 "likes" by the time it opened. As for capital, Ann Arbor State Bank put its trust in the young couple after, Lowe says, "we fundraised from a number of family members to prove we could do it." The bookshelves are Borders' actual bookshelves, bought at auction after the downtown store closed in 2011.