Rainy Day Books in Johnson County to Get New Owners

Vivian Jennings, founder of Rainy Day Books

Vivian Jennings, founder of Rainy Day Books

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After nearly 50 years of operations. A popular local retailer rainy day books It went up for sale in May.

Founder and President Vivian Jennings – along with her partner Roger Dorin, COO – want to retire and spend more time with their family and friends.

Now they have a buyer.

friends Made in KC The retailer is partnering with a group of longtime loyal customers called Friends of Rainy Day Books (16 in the current issue but more want to join). They plan to close the deal in November. Purchase price not disclosed.

But the Jennings family will still be involved.

“I am really excited that our top priority has been to continue the legacy of literacy. We have had assurances, very strong, from the people at Made in Kansas City that they are continuing to do so,” Jennings said. “I admire their entrepreneurial spirit, vision, and creativity. It is really great to be collaborating with another entrepreneur.”

Her passion for books dates back to the fourth grade and “A Girl of the Limberlost”. Her theme was that reading opens doors, and she said that’s what reading did for her.

“It opened doors for everything in my life. I studied hard and got a full scholarship in college, and used it to study in France during my first year.” “I have learned a lot through books. I do not have a business degree but I have used the knowledge from reading to give me the confidence to open business.”

Rainy Day Books opened at Fairway in 1975 with only $2,000 savings. The place was formerly a police station and Fairway prison.

It only sells or trades used paperback books.

A year later, it moved to and expanded its current location, 2706 West 53rd Street in Fairway. Based on many customer requests, it started offering new hardcover and paperback books.

It currently has 13 employees — five with pay and eight hours — who plan to stay.

Her son, Jeffrey Jennings, said he’s the store’s oldest employee.

He was only 7 years old when he started arranging books alphabetically (his mother taught him to read when he was two) and later helped unload shipments and stock shelves, then moved on to waiting for customers.

Through college and law school, he’d assist in several “big events” where best-selling authors share their knowledge and experience, often at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

“That’s what we’re known for – doing very large off-site events with world leaders, celebrities, artists, musicians, award-winning novelists – to promote their new books,” he said.

Events involving Martha Stewart, Anne Rice, Jimmy Carter (3,400 people attended) and the like attracted national interest in the publishing world.

“We are one of the only two bookstores in the country that sells new books. The Chicago Co-op School is the other one,” Jeffrey Jennings said. They come knowing that they will be able to spend some lost time in a bookstore. The pace is slower. “

The store will celebrate its 47th anniversary on November 4.

Vivian Jennings said she has received offers from outside Kansas City, but she wants local owners. And while it transfers operational control to the new owners, the family still plans to get involved.

“They will only be able to do the things they love to do. We can just focus on what we’re selling and how we’re selling,” said Jeffrey Jennings, who will be the lead buyer and event producer.

Made in KC currently has 16 operations across the metro under brands such as Made in KC, Front coffee shop and provisionsAnd the Ludo And the outta blue.

They said the new Rainy Day book sites are a possibility.

“Rainy Day Books is certainly iconic and an invaluable asset to our community,” said Tyler Enders, partner at Made in KC with Keith Bradley and Thomas McIntyre. “They have built such strong relationships with publishers in New York that we get people to come to Kansas City who wouldn’t come here otherwise.”

“A company that has been in business for 47 years says a lot about the process and the relationship with its customers,” Enders said. “We are happy to continue their legacy.”

This story was originally published October 27, 2022 9:13 am.

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Joyce Smith has covered restaurant and retail news for The Star since 1989 under the Cityscape brand. She appreciates news tips.

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