Talking story for 10 years

HANAPEPE — Celeste roused from her afternoon nap, mustering her most irritated “What do you want?” look as people milled about the counter area of the former grocery store.

“Celeste is the boss,” said Cynthia Justus, who along with her husband, Ed, own and operate the Talk Story Bookstore in Hanapepe.

Talk Story Bookstore will be celebrating its 10th anniversary Thursday.

“Honestly, we are pretty amazed that 10 years have passed,” Ed said. “We’re equally as honored that the people of Kauai and the many visitors over the years have helped to make our store the success it has become.”

Cynthia said the store started after landlords Tom Godby and Elsie Shimonishi offered them a month’s free rent “to see if we like it or not.”

“We keep thanking them for this benevolence,” Cynthia said. “We moved here from California on our honeymoon and have never left. We only had a few bookcases, 3,000 books (mostly picked up from garage sales), literally only a few hundred dollars.”

Cynthia said they gave up their rented place to start the business, sleeping in their van.

Since the Nov. 6, 2004, opening, Talk Story Bookstore, the westernmost bookstore in the country, has been featured by television travel shows, magazines and nationally syndicated articles. The store that offers a mix of more than 100,000 new and secondhand books also has gathered numerous awards along the way.

The couple has hosted several free community events, including the revival of the Hanapepe Christmas Festival and the creation of the Kauai All Wheels Expo, and helped foster the expansion and growth of the Friday Night Festival & Art Walk.

Their biggest pleasure in the growth of the bookstore over 10 years has been in its charitable work, Ed and Cynthia said.

“We contribute to numerous civic and nonprofit organizations,” Cynthia said. “We have student scholarships for the Kauai Community College, and when the Waimea High School band needed uniforms and equipment, Talk Story Bookstore matched its fundraising efforts. This, through the support of our customers, gives us the greatest pleasure from the bookstore — being able to help the community.”

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