Local bookstore brings magic to the community


Ten years ago, Jenna Martinez posted on her Facebook page that she wished she had her own bookstore.

Now at 35 years old, she looks back on that memory knowing she finally accomplished what she always wanted in being the proud owner of The Magic of Books Bookstore in downtown Seymour.

“I always wanted to have my own bookstore, but that’s all it was at the time was a dream. Now, I’m like, ‘You did it,’” Martinez said.

Martinez has always been an avid reader and would even try to read before she knew how. She remembers her mom reading to her at night as a young child, and once she learned how to read, she started reading to her mom.

“It was kind of my escape and something I always did,” she said.

Carrying on the tradition Martinez and her mother shared, she now shares with her two kids, Kaiden, 5, and Harper, 3, reading books to them every night.

From monster trucks to sharks and anything in between, her children also have developed a love for storytime, so much so Martinez would share what books she would read to her children that night on a Facebook page she created call Kaiden’s Fictional Adventures.

Martinez was born in Jackson County and moved around to different areas in southern Indiana and Oregon for a time as she was growing up.

She started out in Crothersville before her family moved to North Vernon, where she attended Graham Creek Elementary School.

Her family then made the big move to Oregon and remained there until she was in fifth grade, making her way back home to Indiana. She graduated from Jennings County High School and now has made her way back to Jackson County.

At first, Martinez never thought owning a bookstore was financially possible or enough to be able to support her family. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom while her husband worked.

While she loved being with her kids, she always had an urge to get back out in the community.

“At times, it can be draining, and I always had an itch to go out and do something. I just wasn’t sure what that was yet,” Martinez said.

She then heard about a building in Brownstown that was going to be available, but with the height of the pandemic and other finances, she realized it wasn’t the right time.

After paying off some of her bills, doing her research and some discussion with her husband, she began the hunt for buildings to rent.

Martinez said everything seemed to fall into place once she started this journey. After hearing a bookstore in Columbus was closing, she contacted the owner and was able to buy their inventory and shelving the day after they closed.

As she waited on a response from the rental in Brownstown, she explored her options in Seymour.

Martinez looked into a space at Village Center on East Tipton Street but instead fell in love with the building where Lost and Found Toys is currently located on West Second Street. Empty at the time, she felt like it would be a good place to start her business.

“It was everything I did not want in a store, but it felt like home. Two weeks after signing the lease, the building in Brownstown finally called me. It was the best thing ever because I think Seymour is where I’m supposed to be,” she said.

In July 2022, she moved her business next door to where she got her start and merged with 1852 Cafe.

With the merger, both businesses have grown, creating a safe and cozy environment for those who want to come in, enjoy a cup of coffee and read a book.

Martinez was familiar with running and managing a business from her past experience with a fireworks store called Mark’s Fireworks. Beginning her own business, however, was a whole new environment.

“Starting from the ground up was completely nerve-racking and a huge learning curve,” she said. “You got this idea in your mind that it will be great and the community needs it, but when you boil it all down, if you don’t have someone to ask for help, it can be difficult.”

Martinez wished she was more informed on the legal side of owning a business and the things she had to keep in mind during tax time. As owning a business comes with its ups and downs, Martinez said she will never forget her opening day in the place that started it all.

“I was not expecting the turnout we had,” she said. “It was August and it was raining, and we still had a line of people out the door, down the street and around the corner. I knew as a book lover myself that Seymour needed a bookstore, and to see that kind of attention was amazing.”

Martinez believes it is important for local businesses to connect with the community because without that support, it could make running a business even harder. She said she likes to host events and fundraisers for charities and nonprofits in the community, such as raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and March of Dimes through her book club.

Martinez said she is not only community-driven but an ally to the different communities, such as the LGBTQIA+ community, hoping her business can be a safe space for all community members.

Going through this journey of starting and growing her own business, Martinez always looked toward her mother, who instilled the love of reading in the beginning.

“She jokes and laughs about it, but grounding me didn’t really work all the time, so they would have to ground me from books when I misbehaved as a kid. Yet, they always supported and encouraged me to keep reading,” Martinez said.

As for her love of literature, she found inspiration through a now-retired schoolteacher from Jennings County High School, Sue Hughes, and one day, Martinez hopes to invite any well-known authors into Seymour for a book signing.

Martinez emphasized on the importance of the younger generations reading more books and the benefits that come with it.

“Reading has the benefits of a better vocabulary, and I am one of those people that believe a child should not be limited to what they can read,” Martinez said. “They could read manga or anime books and it doesn’t matter because they are still reading.”

Martinez encourages those who are interested in owning their own business to do the research and find a way to stand out from the competition.

“Find your niche and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it because you can,” she said.

Going on three years as an established business, The Magic of Books Bookstore is currently planning events for the spring and has a few coming in the next month.

For Valentine’s Day, the bookstore will be having a date night package for couples to reserve the bookstore for a special night in with a meal and other activities. In March, the bookstore will be hosting a trivia night based off the hit TV show “Friends” and a poetry night.

Along with many other events, there are various book clubs that meet for all types of genres.

“There is something for everyone here, and I always look forward to meeting new faces that come in,” Martinez said.

Small Town Saturday is a biweekly feature that highlights an individual or local business. If you know a small business or an individual that is involved in the community, please email [email protected].

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