Ellen Cappard is the Owner of Books and Bagels LLC, as well as this week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE. Read more of her story below.
“I have been in Wilmington since 2017, so five years. I moved from Washington, D.C. hoping to have a fresh start with my daughter following a divorce. I was looking for things I loved and saw there was a need for people to connect and have conversations about books and stories here in Wilmington. In good faith I joined the Launcher Program, hoping to make a business plan that I could follow one day.
When the pandemic hit, I had a lot of anxiety about how we would survive. My daughter Sophia is among the high-risk population due to her complex medical care, and my job at the time put me at risk to be exposed to hundreds. I stood firm by the decision to put her care first, and that decision cost me my job. It was the best decision for me and my family. I was free of worry; I could focus on our health. Thankfully, my due diligence paid off as we got through the darkest hours of the pandemic without even a cold affecting our household.
As COVID cases decreased, business development began to pick up. I got a call in early 2021 from my business coach from the Launcher Program, Kristen, about a potential space. With the help of West Side CDC, I was able to brokerage a lease deal for the next three years at an agreeable price. My dreams of owning a bookstore were really coming true!
Keeping the faith, I backed myself 100% with my savings. I had a soft opening on September 4, 2021, and never looked back. It was definitely a big risk. I could have used the savings on so many things, but I’m glad I took the risk on myself. I know it is what the community needs and so many have guided me on my journey forwards. I am grateful for the genuine love and care.
My biggest source of pride is having my daughter Sophia watch me go through it all. She sees her mom working hard, but also having time to laugh with her at cartoons after school. I meet her at the bus every day. She spends time at the bookstore at least three times a week. She helps kids pick out books. Most importantly, we have the autonomy to create a schedule that works for us.
Wilmington is a great place to see your family grow up and thrive. Delaware has a lot of the things my daughter and I love to explore, from great parks to beaches, and great proximity to other cities. The more time we spend in Wilmington the more it feels like home. My daughter Sophia has great support at Nemours and in school.
I love visiting Brandywine Park. It’s a nice, easy walk not too far from home. It’s a nice step into nature right in the heart of the city. I bring all of my friends and family to Del Pez when they visit from out of town. I love their margaritas!
I love that the arts and culture scene is getting more exposure. There’s a lot of talent in Wilmington. The theater and live music scene are vibrant and expanding.
My advice to people living and working in Wilmington is: Keep sharing your stories! Of all the places I have lived, Wilmingtonians have pride in who they are and will share their history freely. The more we discuss the past, the better we are prepared for our future.”