COMING SOON: Cowley New & Used Book Cafe

As most of you who know me are aware, I’m a bit of an entrepreneur. I’ve been starting and selling or starting and running businesses since 2005. It’s a rather a large obsession. And it’s always been about what can earn the most money to best support my family. But there’s always been one dream which I haven’t ever tried to make a reality, because; while it’s been a dream of mine since I was a child, it never seemed profitable. That dream: to run a little bookstore / cafe.  The older I get, the less I care about making piles of money. Sure, I have five daughters, and will need something along the lines of Scrooge McDuck, but I’ve just hit that spot in my life where money is not a motivating force. So now I’m ready to make it happen.

It’s been years in the dreaming, months in the planning. I’ve got my vendor accounts all set up for new books. I’ve got suppliers for the goods necessary to bake and to brew. I’ve got all of the health codes down. I’ve found someone that knows how to procure good, used, stainless steel kitchen supplies. I’ve got a website placeholder up and a pretty good following on a Facebook Page. I’m ready. So ready in fact, that I’ve got boxes upon boxes of new and used books just piled in my office waiting for a space to spread out and get comfy in. I’ve got my eyes on the historic Myton building.  It’s a real chunk of Winfield history, and one of the very few buildings of it’s age which isn’t on the register of historic places. Something which, if I’m able to purchase, I intend to change! More on the building’s history in a bit.

I’ve been working the last month or so on building up community involvement to get people excited in the coming bookstore, and also, to five them an opportunity to help shape what the bookstore will become. The first thing that I did was presented several possible logos and variations, and asked them to vote on it. The response was more than I could have expected! The logo that you see to the left is what came from the voting, as our final logo which will be displayed on our sign and all of our paperwork.

Next, I asked people a little about what they’d like to have in the store as far as books, drinks and baked goods. Again, there was a pretty decent response, and I’ve compiled a list of what the participants said, so that we can make sure that each and every requested item is represented in the book store and cafe. I know that I’m excited about quite a few of the items, and I’m sure that you will be too. Take a look with what some in our community responded, and keep in mind that if YOU have suggestions, I would absolutely love to hear from you. Email me!

I’ve also spoken with a middle school and a high school librarian, and will be getting involved with the William Allen White Children’s Book Award program, and will be sure to stock the books on the list. To encourage our young readers, we’ll even be offering an incentive program – purchase four books on the list, get a fifth free! It doesn’t have to be all at once, we’ll hand out punch cards!

1. What type of beverages would you like to see made available at 7:00 AM, and what type at noon?

Black tea, green tea, and herbal tea (rose, lavender, peppermint, etc) (brewed/iced whole leaf). Juices, agua frescas, water infusions. Beverages for the kids such as homemade lemonade. Coffee and hot tea are important in the morning, and maybe that along with iced tea and lemonade later in the day! Coffee. Some interesting flavors similar to R Coffee House in Wichita, which has Mayan coffee with chocolate, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cayenne.
2. What type of pastries would you like to see made available at 7:00 AM, and what type at noon?
For sweet things,pear-ginger, blueberry-lemon, etc so the flavors are the star, not the sugar. For savory, meat or egg or other protein-based. Option of something with protein/fiber rather than all carbs. Apple turnovers sound delicious. And sugar cookies! Homemade pies would be amazing!! And scones are always winners. Cinnamon rolls, too. A lot of people are more health conscious or have dietary concerns these days. Gluten free and low/no sugar options would be nice. Blueberry scones, the lemon and blueberry combo already mentioned, and things with unusual or exotic flavors. Maple bacon cookies are so good. Savory or spicy treats would be nice, too.
3. When it comes to NEW books, what genre would you like to see stocked up on?
Mystery (built on drama and antagonism, rather than dark gory details and/or heavy romance) Angels and Demons, Vampire or SEALs stories. Suspense and romance. Humor selection for kids. Graphic novels for elementary age kids. Mysteries and crime fiction, as well as some best sellers! Fantasy and Sci-fi! Paperback children’s books! Young adult literature, science fiction, dystopian, mystery/suspense, books with emphasis on different perspectives.
4. Any particular NEW book titles you’d like to see?
Janet Evanovich, Ray Bradbury. Nicholas Sparks, Dog Man. Titles from Great American Read initiative! The Book of Unknown Americans, Refugee, All American Boys Killers of the Flower Moon. Raina Telgemeier books. The Wild Robot 1 & 2
5. Do you think we should get a small selection of comic books? If so, what titles/heroes in particular?
X-men, Marvel Comics,, Marvel comics. Batman. Some Avengers comics, as they are so popular now. Some of their lesser-known heroes! Some graphic novels would be nice. I haven’t read many of these, but I really enjoyed American Born Chinese.
6. What type of music would you like to hear when you visit?
Slow jazz / world music. Acoustic or relaxing music. Mellow folk and old jazz like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong! Indie, alternative rock, and contemporary folk. I like the jazz suggestion, too, but not that soft piano all over the place jazz with no soul.
Another thing that I’ve been approached about, by two separate individuals now, is  hosting book clubs. So let me say, YES! I’m totally open to hosting book clubs and providing coffee and treats to our readers. I’d even be willing to offer some after hours time slots, with 72 hours notice. I am willing to do anything I can to encourage reading! I would also like to offer space to local Cowley County authors for the purpose of selling their books, as well as to host book signings. So if you would like to have a book club, or if you know a local artist, PLEASE let me know! I’ll even be selling two of my titles there, one printed, and one being edited to get ready to go to press soon!
This will be a family book store, and my two elder daughters will be assisting in its day to day operations. One of their friends will be assisting with the coffee bit (a barista – ooh, fancy!) and a family friend will be doing the baking. She’s 65, and her pastries are absolutely divine. I am positive that once the smell of the oven vents outside, no one will be able to resist coming in and having a look around while stuffing their faces. And as to organization and general customer service, those of you who frequented the Myton building when it was Hometown True Value, may well see a face that you’ll recognize! More on the names and the experience of our staff at a later date. Now on to the fun stuff, the history of the building that I hope to purchase to host this dream!

HISTORY OF THE S.H. MYTON BUILDING

About the original owner / builder:

Samuel Huston Myton was born on July 18th, 1844 in Pennsylvania to Samuel Myton and Elanor Montgomery.

At the age of seventeen, he enlisted in the three months’ service. Was mustered out at the expiration of his term of service, and in 1862 re-enlisted in Company F, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. He participated in the engagements of Gettysburg and Antietam, and was mustered out at the close of the war.

He was subsequently engaged in merchandising in Pennsylvania for four years. He came to Kansas in 1869, beginning in Emporia. Soon he moved to Cottonwood Falls. In 1871, he relocated to Winfield and engaged in the hardware business,

Samuel married Mary C. Read, daughter of the banker, M. L. Read, Esq. and Joanna Read, (born January 27, 1851, in Illinois) on June 20,1875 in at the Read residence in Winfield. They went on to have three children. The girls were called Josie Myton (June 21, 1877) and Lulu G. Myton (January 25, 1879 [Rucker]). The boy was called Read H. Myton (November 18th, 1884).

In 1878, Samuel served as a Chaplain for the Knights of Honor, and he was Commander of the First Vail in the Royal Arch Masons.

He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Chapter and Commandery, the Royal Arcanum, Knights of Honor and the National Union. He served a member of the City Council, having been elected April 3, 1879 to second ward.

Samuel passed away on January 12th, 1936 and is interred in the Highland Mausoleum.

He was spoken well of, and the following are excerpts from newspaper clippings regarding his hardware store:

“He has a magnificent brick store, which he owns, as well as much other real estate, and his stock embraces everything in the hardware line, in large quantities. His sales are probably greater than any other house in the line in Southwest Kansas. He has built up this trade and an honorable name for himself by his personal attention to business, fair dealing, sagacity, and enterprise.”

“The wants of farmers can now be supplied as well as those of small dealers in other towns, without the time, labor, and expense of a trip to the railroad, by calling on Mr. Myton. His acquaintances throughout the county and reputation for honest dealing with customers, together with his liberality to the press, is a guarantee of a successful business the coming season.”

“S. H. Myton is the great hardware and agricultural implement dealer of the Southwest. He has built up a magnificent business in this city because he is reliable and honorable in his dealings, keeps the best of everything in his line, sells at satisfactory prices, and, above all, advertises liberally.”

Complete timeline of the present building:

Samuel H. Myton purchased the lot on March 28, 1873 for $2,700.00 and began planning for construction at that time.

Construction of the building was begun on or about July 31, 1874, by Stewart & Simpson, Architect Cook.

“It will be entirely of cut stone, 75 x 90, two stories. The first story will contain two rooms, one 25 feet wide, and the other 50, the first to be occupied by Mr. Myton’s general hardware stock and the second by his agricultural implements. Jim Conner has the stone work contract and agrees to finish it in ninety days. The building will cost about twenty thousand dollars.”

  • On August 28, 1874, the excavation of the basement begun by T. O. Hill.
  • On September 4, 1874, basement excavation was completed.
  • On May 15, 1884, the application for building permit was granted.
  • On September 18, 1874, the basement walls were completed, and construction of the main and upper level began.
  • On November 16, 1874, the contractors, Stewart & Simpson, completed the building.
  • On November 19, 1874, the exterior stonework was completed.
  • On December 31, 1874, the interior plaster work was completed.
  • On January 07, 1875, the Masons moved into the upper level
  • On January 28, 1875, G. W. Prater and Irv. Randall began building and installing shelving.
  • On February 18, 1875, the hardware store officially opened.
  • On December 23, 1875, Myton purchased a new fire and burglar proof safe for use in the store.
  • On November 10, 1881, a new cornice was added.
  • On November 26, 1885, the valuation of the store was adjusted by the county, to $25,000.00.
  • On February 07, 1920, the Winfield Masons purchased the S. H. Myton Building, and have owned it since.

The building was quite popular. Below are some excerpts from newspaper clippings:

“The contractors, Stewart & Simpson, have completed the brick work on Myton’s new building. The building is two stories in height—the first story 15 feet, the second 13 feet—and 25 x 60 feet in size. The walls were carried up to the top 18 inches in thickness to stand fire, and the front has cut block stone corners, and iron columns. It is a credit to the owner, the builders, and the town.”

“The handsome stone block of S. H. Myton is nearing completion and greatly improves the appearance of Main Street. When Mr. Myton gets his vast stock under this roof, about January first, he will have a hardware and implement establishment eclipsing any in the West.”

“Without doubt the finest paving stones in the Walnut Valley are being delivered in front of Sam Myton’s new brick. The flagging is five or six inches thick, six feet wide, and from nine to fifteen feet long.”

“Mr. Myton came to Cowley in 1871 and this business has grown from a small beginning to one of proportions unexcelled by any hardware and implement house in the State. Some years ago, he erected the substantial brick he now occupies, but after building on as much as possible, he found the building yet too small for his immense and growing business. Last year he commenced the erection of the fine cut stone block on the corner of 8th Avenue and Main, where he is now nearing completion and is one of the most imposing ornaments in the business part of the city. Its cost is over twenty thousand dollars and when Mr. Myton gets his mammoth stock on that eighteen thousand square feet of floor it will be a showing fit to tickle the pride of any city, and especially the man who has had the ability, business tact, and energy to accomplish such results. He will occupy the whole building; three rooms on each floor, 2 x 80. Elevators run from the basement to the third floor and everything is arranged with especial conveniences for his business. Mr. Myton has certainly grown with Cowley; and, like her, his growth has been through worthy and deserved popularity. S. H. Myton is this week removing his immense hardware and implement stock to his handsome new building on north Main. When he gets “fixed up,” his establishment will stand superior to any of its kind in Kansas.”

“S. H. Myton has got settled down to business in his new building, and we think we are safe in saying that he now has one of the finest hardware stores in the state. Everything pertaining to the building is fitted up in the best possible manner and kept in “apple-pie order.” Sam is a reliable, capable, and energetic businessman, and he understands his business well enough to know that the way to control trade and make money is to keep handling the goods even though the profits are small. See his new advertisement elsewhere.”

“When you step into Sam Myton’s splendid new brick now, the first thing you see is the ever-smiling face of Mr. J. P. Short, who will wait on you so pleasantly that you feel like spending your last nickel there.”

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