Books & Music

When This Bookstore Owner Was In The Hospital, His Competitors Kept His Shop Open

This story is so sweet.

This is how you know you’re in the right business. When Seth Marko learned he was going to need open heart surgery in late January, he had to put everything on pause. His wife, Jennifer Powell, made sure their 3-year-old daughter was in good hands, but his bookstore business, The Book Catapult, was another story. It would have to close down while he was in surgery and, later, recuperating.

But then, without hesitation, a good friend and competing bookstore owner, Scott Ehrig-Burgess, stepped in to help.

“I thought, ‘I’ll pretend this is my store for the week,’” Ehrig-Burgess told the Washington Post.

The fledgling shop recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, according to a post on Instagram:

But, apparently, it already has quite the fan club! Because when Ehrig-Burgess reached out to others in the community, they were quick to pitch in where they could.

“People were like, ‘What can I do to help? Do you need somebody to be in the store?’” Ehrig-Burgess told the Washington Post. “I called four booksellers and had four volunteers.”

Volunteers and fellow booksellers in the local San Diego area were more than happy to lend a helping hand, perhaps even more so because they knew this wasn’t an easy favor to ask.

“People don’t like to ask for help. You have to say, ‘Hey, I have a few hours, do you need me?’” Julie Slavinsky, a competing bookstore employee who volunteered at The Book Catapult, told the Washington Post.

Powell was pleased to see all of the people who were there for them when they needed it most although, knowing the local book community, she also wasn’t too surprised.

“Everybody kinda jumped into action immediately which is really wonderful because then we were literally only closed for a day,” she told ABC 10 News. “It’s not really hard to believe that this happened but it’s still heartwarming to see that it did come into place.”

And those who kept the shop up and running definitely didn’t see it as “working for the competitor.”

“The book world is a little bit different,” Slavinsky told the Washington Post. “I see this as helping somebody in the community. It’s the community coming together.”

Thankfully, the surgery went well and Marko is on the mend. On Feb. 8, Marko posted to Instagram in order to update his customers and thank all of his hard-working friends and colleagues:

“Thanks to an incredible network of friends and family, the Catapult has rolled on in mine [sic] and Jen’s absence,” he wrote. “Our amazing friend Scott Ehrig-Burgess (who runs the Library Shop in his spare time) managed to seamlessly keep our doors open, organize the volunteer staff, mop up leaks and generally keep our family afloat during this ordeal. I’ll never be able to thank him enough.”

He also told the community that he’ll be out for several more weeks but, for now, all seems to be going well with both his recovery and his bookstore. So, thanks to all those willing to come together for a fellow member of the community, this story has a happy ending!