ROCK SPRINGS— When the building at 507 Broadway St. in Rock Springs became available, Lisa Ryberg was not completely certain of what she wanted to do with it, but she had an idea that kept developing as she worked on remodeling the space.
“Pretty soon it was too late to turn back,” Ryberg said.
She had already had the idea for a place to sell wine and charcuterie, but she decided that was not enough for a business.
“I had really wanted that for a long time but I realized it just wasn’t going to work,” she said.
In August 2017 while in Cody, Wyoming, she and her fiancé Clark Stith visited a small bookstore.
“It was small, but it had a great selection of books and I really liked being in there because I could see all the books. They were easily accessible,” Ryberg said. She ended up incorporating tall book cases in her own store so her customers can see all of the available books.
After returning home to Rock Springs, she was at home reading a book she bought at the store in Cody and she started reflecting on her experience at the Cody bookstore.
“I realized I could combine the two ideas of charcuterie and wine with a bookstore,” she said. “I just knew it was a good idea.”
The Process of Starting and Running a Bookstore
Ryberg describes the process of starting and running Sidekicks Bookbar as challenging but very fun.
The building is narrow and was a bit difficult to work with, but she likes how cozy it is.
“It was challenging to work with but it was very fun to allow my style to manifest,” she said.
Ryberg said that starting Sidekicks required a lot of learning on her part. There were many steps to learn, such as learning the book industry. She had to figure out how to order books and learn the point of sale.
“It was a big process. Everything was bigger than I expected,” she said. “But you take it one step and you follow that step through. If you don’t know something, you get taught it. You figure it out.”
Sidekicks has a great selection of books, but since the space is small, they stick mostly to best sellers and classics. However, they can order any book a patron wants.
Partnering with Jackson Hole Winery
When looking at Wyoming liquor licenses, Ryberg found that if there happens to be an available license, they can be up to $100,000.
There weren’t any licenses available when Ryberg was looking into them, but when she was reading the Wyoming Liquor Division laws she noticed a provision that says in-state wineries can have a satellite location.
“I approached Jackson Hole Winery and tasted their products and I visited them. We built a relationship with each other that we felt secure in going forward with carrying them in the store,” Ryberg said. “I like the product. It’s very good.”
When selecting food options to sell, she wanted them to accompany the wine. She decided on charcuterie boards and desserts.
A Love for Reading
As a mother, Ryberg has gone through periods of time where she found it difficult to find time to read, but she always read with her children every night.
“My favorite books are the ones I read with my kids. We read The Hobbit and all of the Lord of the Rings, The Indian in the Cupboard, James and the Giant Peach, books that Ron Dahl had written. Those are the ones I hold dearest,” Ryberg said.
Ryberg is a mother of three. Her kids are ages 29, 25, and 9. She used to read to her two oldest kids every night, and now she reads every night with her 9-year-old.
“Right now we are reading The Help. We often find books that are not classic children’s books. We find books that interest us both,” she said.
All Ages, All Genres of People
Ryberg feels very appreciative to how receptive and positive the community has been to Sidekicks Bookbar. She said people come in and express their gratitude to her for opening a place like Sidekicks.
“It really is a labor of love, and it took a lot of energy, emotion, and learning,” she said. Therefore, the support the community has shown her has meant a lot.
Ryberg is happy that so many different types of people have visited Sidekicks Bookbar and have felt comfortable in the space she has created.
“We have all ages and all genres of people come in. I’ve had college students come in and sit and do homework. I’ve had retired people come in and have coffee. I’ve had military guys come in and just hang out.
“I’ve had couples, and sisters, and mothers and daughters visit. I’ve had all ages from millennials to retirees, so it just makes me feel like I hit the right core,” Ryberg said. “They’re all comfortable.”
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Sidekicks Bookbar will have its ribbon cutting ceremony and open house, hosted by the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce, on Wednesday, May 30. The ribbon cutting will start at 5:30 pm.