What is your full name, title, and business name?

Melia Wolf, Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers

Follow Cover to Cover on Social: Instagram

Photographs by Emma Parker Photography, www.emmaparkersphotography.com

Give us a summary of your business in 200 words or less.

We love sharing our passion for reading with children, parents and educators. Cover to Cover is the oldest independent children’s bookstore in the Midwest, opening our doors in 1980. Our store has earned a reputation as a leader for classic and contemporary children’s literature. We are also a well-known partner for teachers’ resources and a center for the expanding Young Adult and Graphic Novel categories. We actively foster a welcoming environment for all, relationships over transactions and empowering young minds.

How did the idea for your business come about?

Cover to Cover was first opened in Clintonville by former literacy teacher Sally Oddi in 1980. When Sally retired in 2017, I purchased the business and moved it to its current location on Arlington Avenue.

What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?

I first visited when I was a teacher and loved the special selection and knowledgeable booksellers. Later I visited with my sons and we have great memories of meeting authors and illustrators in-person. We strive to create the same experiences for today’s visitors.

What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner? 

I feel a strong responsibility to the community and specifically to the children we aim to empower.

What does the city of Columbus mean to your business? 

We have strong support from all of Columbus, not just our little neighborhood. We make daily deliveries to the entire county. 

Are you from Columbus? If not, please explain what brought you to here and ultimately what made you stay.

I’m originally from Cincinnati. But, I grew up in Worthington and Dublin and have raised my family in Upper Arlington.

What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business? 

Love what you do.

What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business? 

The sacrifice of time, money and energy can be enormous.

What’s the most challenging part of your business (i.e, what keeps you up at night)?

Online competition.

Every business owner has a flaw. What’s yours?

I want to put my family before my business.

Why do you think most business owners fail? What has made you different? 

It has been difficult. Extending beyond what feels reasonable in terms of personal contribution has kept the business going.

What was your biggest mistake and what did it cost you?

My biggest mistake was working from 8am to 8 pm seven days a week for the first two years. It cost me my health.

What tool has helped you the most for your business (invoicing, accounting, shipping, plugin for website, etc.)?

Anthology, Edelweiss and Quickbooks have been essential tools in our day to day operations.

When did you know it was time to expand your business, make your first hire, etc.? 

I hired three booksellers, a bookkeeper and a tech expert to set up our system immediately. Later, I hired experts in children’s literacy (a librarian, a teacher and a writer) and a store manager with strong experience managing other bookstores.

What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?

Re-opening our online ordering system during Covid brought about larger bookfairs and customer orders.

What is something that your business spends a lot of money on that’s worth it?

Newly released books.

What is something you’re working on now that you’re very excited about?

We are excited about upcoming author and illustrator visits! We are currently holding our visits over zoom and will be happy to resume actual store visits.

What form of marketing is the most valuable for you?

Social Media including facebook, instagram and email.

Who is your best Columbus resource (accountant, lawyer, marketer, etc.)?

CBUS libraries, Harper’s Corner, and Beehive Alliance

Who do you vent to when you have a business problem?

I call Sally Oddi.

Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?

I hope to see it become profitable and I hope to earn an owner’s salary some day.

When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to overcome this feeling?

I walk outside if possible.

What’s your end goal with the business? Is this something you want to pass down to your kids or would you like to eventually sell?

My children will not take over the business so I will need to sell it.

What other entrepreneur do you look up to most?

When I first opened I looked up to Catherine Vonderahe. She loved people and loved serving them.

If you had to tell a visitor one thing to do/see/eat in Columbus, what would it be?

Visit the Columbus Museum of Art