As The Lift’s current owner Rhonda Rhodes put it – the first few pages of a new chapter for her, and for the bookstore on 19th Street, have already been written. She has made plans to sell The Lift to Kelly Contello, a long-time employee who loves books, and comes from a retail background.
“As hard as it is for me to believe, I’m 60 now,” Rhodes said. “I’m ready for my next chapter. And I’ve enjoyed these eight-plus years of creating, developing, and running The Lift. This little shop has brought me, and, I hope to think, others, so many blessings. But now I’m ready to give it a big hug and let it go. Life is always moving forward and I’ve moved forward, too. The road ahead once again feels full of possibilities.”
Part of that journey involves a new relationship with a man who Rhodes first met in grade school – and the other includes her own art.
“Before I opened The Lift, I was a briefing attorney at downtown firms, and before that, a technical editor,” said Rhodes. “My life has always revolved around reading, researching, writing, and editing. As a writer, I won a Texas-wide manuscript contest for my second novel. I also co-authored a resource guide for Houston parents that was available city wide years ago.”
Ten years ago, Rhodes sustained a repetitive motion injury which hindered her ability to use the computer for a few years.
“During my time running The Lift, I’ve healed quite a bit,” she said. “So now I would love to get back to the sacred art of writing. I also like to paint and hike and cook and garden and travel and do so many other things. I am ready for all of this.”
For her part, Contello is ready to take the helm at The Lift.
“This being the eight year anniversary proves that small Indie bookstores can not only survive, but can also thrive in today’s retail brick and mortar landscape,” said Contello. “That is why I fell in love with it!”
The transition of ownership will happen on or about Sept. 24, and in the meantime, Rhodes is making an effort to reduce the inventory to make it easier for Contello to move into full ownership and put her own stamp on things. There is a storewide discount of 30 percent off all items this week, with more expected.
“The Lift has always overflowed with books, gifts, and other good things, so reducing the inventory for sale will help Kelly build it back up with her favorite bestselling items, plus give her room to add a few surprises,” said Rhodes. “I’m excited to see what Kelly will do, keeping the happy, magical feel of The Lift while embracing it with her own ideas and creativity.”
“I won’t be changing very much, so no need to worry,” said Contello. “The Lift offers the good reads: the new, talked about and sought after books. I plan on adding more in store events for the community to come experience The Lift. I will also be curating a category of jewelry featuring natural crystals and gemstones, as well as books and items that will help inspire balance, peace and grounding. The Lift will always remain true to Rhonda’s vision – ‘the little shop around the corner where dust meets glitter!’”
Rhodes says she leaves with gratitude to her employees, whom she calls Team Lift, and to the store’s customers, who are fondly referred to as LiftShoppers, to their business neighbors, and to the community.
“I am so very, very grateful,” she said. “What a lift it has been!”