Story by Sally Finnegan
“I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be,” said Joseph Campbell, American mythologist and writer, in an interview with Bill Moyers.
It was this same quote, “follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,” that directly catalyzed Roger and Pat Mullins’ dream of opening Bliss Books & Bindery, a community bookstore that will soon open in downtown Stillwater.
Although bliss was their goal in opening the store, the name developed more specifically from their dog, Bliss.
Animals have been a big part of both Roger and Pat’s lives, so after losing five pets in a single year, Roger began volunteering at the Stillwater Humane Society. While volunteering, he developed a special relationship with Bliss. After she was adopted and returned twice by other people, Roger took her home. He said, it was like “she was just waiting for me to come get her.”
For Roger and Pat Mullins, opening a bookstore has been a dream of theirs for quite some time. Between Pat’s passion and Roger’s interest in books, they were quick to jump on an opportunity to pursue such bliss when Hastings closed and a beautiful space opened up downtown.
Located next to the Antique Mall, at 120 E. 9th Avenue, Bliss Books & Bindery is projected to open in early October with a grand opening planned for later this fall.
As far as location is concerned, downtown seemed to make the most sense. “We’ve seen a revitalization of what’s going on down here and are excited to contribute to such a revival,” Roger said. So, he began buying more books to expand his several-thousand book collection.
Roger spoke of his vision for Bliss Books & Bindery, and it was easy to imagine each specific nook he described. Beyond the new and used sections, the bindery in the back, the local goods and authors sections, the children’s play area, and the counter for sales, the atmosphere will be “a ‘clean, well-lit place for books,’” said Roger, quoting Hemingway.
Bliss Books & Bindery is planned to be more than just a store, rather a hub of ideas and community downtown. Between the curated collection of selected books, author visits, book signings, and binding repair, “a bookstore like this can become a part of the soul of the community,” Roger said. “It will be a place where people can find the best sellers, but if they want to sit down and dive into a philosophy text, they can do that.”
Bliss Books & Bindery has already been embraced by the community. In July, local teens, who are excited for the bookstore’s opening, compiled a list of their favorite books and presented the list to the bookstore’s floor manager, Leah Dester. The teens wanted to help select titles that they love for the store to stock. A photo of the handwritten list was shared by the Bliss Books & Bindery official facebook page with the statement, “I love the enthusiasm, and am happy to say we had already picked up quite a few of these books.”
Roger’s own lifelong love of reading led him to pursued degrees revolving around English, creative writing, rhetoric, composition. He recently completed his Ph.D. in English at Oklahoma State University.
Having ties to the university, Roger intends to work closely with various on-campus groups like the Creative Writing Association and Undergraduate Journal, as well as the American Booksellers Association, to host events for whatever need there may be. As a local bookstore, there will be a space dedicated to local writers and artisans, so that Bliss Books & Bindery can be a supportive outlet for Stillwater’s own creative scene.
Roger said he plans on hosting bookbinding classes to encourage “developing a stronger interest in the book—the history of the book, the nature of it, how it goes about being made and taken apart and put together, the whole thing.” Because a big part of the Mullins’ enterprise is to sell good quality books, the bindery will include book repair, restoration, and rebinding as well.
Roger and Pat envision a store that is welcoming to people of all interests and backgrounds, as well as a space congruent with education and the exploration of ideas.
Even with so many plans for the space, a main goal is community—in Roger’s words, “less is more in this case,” it’s bliss.
“Like” Bliss Books & Bindery on Facebook for all current updates and keep an eye out for the Grand Opening later this fall.