Pontifications on (Finally) Having an Intern

Kendra Gayle Lee
4 min readAug 25, 2021
Me, feeling perplexed about having free time to sit under an umbrella with a cappuccino

I’ve done it. I left the bookstore. Just walked out.

Sure, I left the intern there.

But I’m not there. And now it seems like we just might find out whether or not I’m the center of the world after all.*

When I opened Bookish** in September 2019, I had a part-time employee. Because I was new to owning a business — and because, frankly, Bookish didn’t mean to me what it does now — I had zero issue leaving the store in someone else’s hands for 15 hours a week or so. Did I think about what was going on at the store while I was gone? Nope. Not even for one second.

I had no idea what a luxury that was, at the time (See: new business owner). I get real stubborn about things, and I was stuck on the idea that I would own the store & the store would NOT own me.

Cool. Cool.

Then the pandemic hit.

Before March 2020, Bookish** was a purely come-in-and-browse store. 90% of our inventory consisted of used books, most of which weren’t in an inventory system. That was part of the fun, right? Browse. Find treasures. Sure, it was neatly organized. Grouped by category. But it was a little bit of controlled mayhem, in some very pretty packaging.

So pretty. So not inventoried.

We sold nothing online.

We all know what happens next. It happened to small businesses across the globe: we closed for two weeks. Which turned into 7 months. Out of nowhere.

At a different point in my life, I 100% would have closed up shop. Because who would blame me for closing during a pandemic? Especially with words like “unprecedented” flying around with shocking regularity.

But I didn’t because I already loved this itty bitty indie bookstore.

Folks ask me all the time if I’d dreamed of opening a bookstore my whole life. Nope. But it quickly became the dream I didn’t know I had. Owning Bookish fulfilled me in ways I hadn’t known I longed for.

So, instead of closing, we pivoted. I took photos of our stock and posted the books online to sell. I Facetimed…

Kendra Gayle Lee

Believer in equality. Dedicated to smashing white supremacy & the patriarchy. Mother of 1. Queer. Married to a out, trans-guy. In love with Atlanta, GA.