For the past 40 years, Lizz Taylor has been able to use one of her favorite pastimes to make a living.
This year, Taylor celebrates 40 years of being in the business of selling books to her fellow book lovers at her store Poor Richard’s Books on Broadway.
Originally from New Jersey, Taylor moved to Kentucky in 1968 to attend the University of Kentucky. She earned a bachelors and masters degree in psychology, as well as a masters in early childhood development.
In 1975, she went to work for the Franklin County Health Department on an experimental program following the development of newborns.
“We connected with the mom’s right after they gave birth and received permission to check on the babies,” she said. “We would recommend them into programs if they were falling behind.”
While working for the health department, she got a part-time job at the bookstore, which at the time was called The Book Store.
In 1978, after the grant expired that was supporting her position at the health department, she had the opportunity to buy the bookstore.
“This is my 40th year now,” she said.
FRANK: Was it hard to get used to a slower lifestyle when you first moved to Kentucky from New Jersey?
Taylor: The pace in the (big city) is nuts. This is slower and more sane. Maybe some say it’s a little too slow, but it works for me.
I like the amount of green that we have that they don’t have. It’s a concrete world up there. This is more balanced.
FRANK.: How did you come up with the name Poor Richard’s?
Taylor: I thought we had to come up with something better than The Book Store, and a friend said since this is Franklin County, I should name it Poor Richard’s after Ben Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac.”
FRANK: What do you love so much about what you do?
Taylor: I like putting a book in your hands and knowing you’re going to go and enjoy the book.
It’s especially fun to work with younger kids and teenagers that are into reading. I just want to feed that appetite as much as I can.
FRANK: Do you have a favorite genre to read?
Taylor: No. I like to read to escape. I like strong female characters. I’ll read a 14 page New Yorker article about politics too.
FRANK: What books did you read as a kid?
Taylor: I grew up reading Nancy Drew and mythology — Greek, Roman, Norse — anything I could find. I was always escaping into a book.
My librarian was not very happy with me, because I had a dog that chewed things — especially my books. The librarians were great though. They kept me going.
FRANK: What do you say to the people that come in and ask for book suggestions?
Taylor: I always ask them what the last thing they read was that they really liked. That leads me where to go. It’s a challenge and I’m happy to rise to the challenge.
FRANK: Do you think you’ll ever retire?
Taylor: I’m still having fun. Every time a box comes in, I can’t wait to dive in. Every Tuesday there’s new books coming out.
I’m really excited about the new energy that’s happening in the downtown area with the planning for the Capital Plaza redevelopment. We’re beginning to see fruit on the tree.
When I first moved into the building there was a pool hall next door and nothing else. The old Mitchell’s Clothing store space is ready and waiting for somebody to come in. I heard there’s a business looking at the Vatter Building.
I’m excited to see what happens. I’ve worked with Downtown Frankfort Inc. for so long and all the things we’ve always talked about could be getting some fulfillment.
Changes bring opportunity. It’s not been easy the last few years, since the recession, but I’ve tried to bring in non-book products — mugs that have literary themes and tea. I’m trying to appeal to non-book people.