BLOOMINGTON, Ill.–From old school video games and novelty robot toys to classic books, there’s a quirky nature to Bobzbay in Bloomington.
“I love to see people’s fascination with it. And they get really in to it, which is cool,” said Elizabeth Aspbury, the owner of Bobzbay. “I love the nostalgia. It can be something you know that was made 10 years ago or something that was made 50 years ago someone will find. ‘Oh, I had that when I was a kid. Oh, I remember that.’”
Aspbury has spent much of her life growing up in the used books and video game store. At just 15 years old, she started a career working alongside Bobzbay’s former owner. The store’s name pay homage to him.
“The previous owner’s name was Robert and it started on Ebay in the mid-1990’s really when EBay first started up,” she said.
In 2015, he decided to sell the business. That’s when then 23-year old Elizabeth jumped on the investment opportunity.
Apbury said, “I was like, ‘You know what, give me like a month. Let me talk to some people’—people being my parents. And you know, I bought it.”
She says early on, she did face some resistance as a young woman in business. But the blossoming entrepreneur says the community support has been far greater.
“When I first bought the business there was still that ‘Oh, she’s a girl and she’s a business owner’ type thing. But I don’t have to deal with that anymore. I think that sort of era is passed for the most part. At least that’s my experience.”
Ten years later, Aspbury still finds joy in her line of work, particularly that with the books.
“I was home schooled, so I had a lot of time to read. I don’t know, I’ve always loved reading,” she said.
Aspbury credits her grandparents for instilling that passion in her.
She said, “Both my grandparents were teachers. So I had that you know— ‘You need to be reading. You need to be reading. You can’t be watching TV.’”
“I think if you’re reading, no matter what you’re reading–if it’s the world’s greatest classic or it’s you know just a junky novel—as long as you’re reading I think that’s good.”
Fast forward to 2019, Bobzbay is celebrating a decade in business.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been 10 years. I started here when I was 13 and I didn’t expect it to you know—this is the first job that I’ve ever had,” said Aspbury.
While Aspbury’s team of three have no plans to expand or move, she is working to make the shop more community-oriented.
She said, “We’re not like a cookie cutter bookstore, a cookie cutter video game store. It’s a place people can come and hang out.”
Bobzbay will be hosting a 10 year anniversary celebration at the store Saturday, September 7. There will be live music in the morning with a sale of 10% off everything in the store.