Husband and wife Riley and Jennifer Justis hope to promote literature in Mt. Pleasant with their new business, Sleepy Dog Books.
“We’ve always dreamt of opening a bookstore and Mt. Pleasant, surprisingly, doesn’t have one yet for being a local small-town,” Riley Justis says. “Mt. Pleasant is considered a book desert and this is an opportunity for us to change the nature of literacy in the community.”
Riley and Jennifer are both Central Michigan University alum with backgrounds in education. Jennifer has a particular interest in literature with a focus on its impact on students. The Justis family has taught in both Alaska and Michigan schools. They currently live in Mt. Pleasant with their two kids and dogs.
Rosie and Cooper, the Justis family’s two lazy golden retrievers, are the inspiration behind Sleepy Dog Books.“Literacy has always been a focus of our professional careers, but also our personal lives,” Riley says. “We grew up in libraries and bookstores and it’s been a focus bringing books in our home once we had kids.”
The inspiration for Sleepy Dog Books comes from their own sleepy dogs, Rosie and Cooper.
“Our kids read out loud to our two lazy golden retrievers, and that’s how we got the name for Sleepy Dog Books,” Riley says.
The bookstore, located at 120 E. Broadway St., is scheduled to open in spring 2022. The company launched its online store in September with items available via shipping, which will remain available once the storefront opens.
“Our partnership with the American Bookseller Association allows books to be shipped straight to buyer’s homes,” Riley says. “All the proceeds end up coming to local bookstores.”
The store’s book selection will include a wide range of reading levels, genres, and authors. The Justis family will place an emphasis on featuring local authors in their bookstore, both Mt. Pleasant and Michigan-based.
“We will also have a small selection of retail from unique Michigan-owned businesses, such as candles and journals,” Riley says.
The Justis family wants Sleepy Dog Books to become more than a bookstore through community engagement efforts. Once the storefront opens, they hope to offer community events like storytimes, course teachings, or holiday celebrations.
“Most of all we want to help out families with instructional needs because we are teachers,” Riley says. “We want to teach adults how to help their own kids in literacy-based events.”
Riley and Jennifer hope to bring better access to books within the community for children and adults.