A Bookstore Owner Had A Medical Emergency, So His Competitors Kept The Store Running

February 27, 2019

When owners of a bookstore faced an emergency, workers from five other bookstores jumped in to help them stay in business.

bookstore owners help competitor
Jennifer and Seth / Credit: Sara Butler

Jennifer Powell and her husband Seth Marko own The Book Catapult in San Diego, California.

Last month, Marko had emergency open heart surgery and spent 11 days in the hospital. As Marko recovered and Powell cared for him and their 3-year-old daughter, The Book Catapult was forced to close, as the store's only employee had the swine flu at the time.

Powell asked their close friend Scott Ehrig-Burgess and his wife if they could help watch their daughter, Josephine. But Ehrig-Burress, who works at another bookstore in town, wanted to help more.

Ehrig-Burgess started calling their friends, who are also booksellers, to let them know about the surgery, and they wanted to help, too.


"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."

Ehrig-Burgess ended up with eight volunteers to help keep The Book Catapult open. They all worked at competing bookstores in the San Diego area.

Marko's surgery was a success but he is still recovering at home. Ehrig-Burgess said the couple is slowly getting back into the swing of things.

"We're slowly pivoting toward putting it back on them," Ehrig-Burgess said. "They're doing 80% now."

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