Bookstore Interview – Shirley Mullin of Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore

Photo provided by Shirley Mullin


Bookstores are magical places: shops where you walk in and are immediately presented with thousands of portals to other worlds. But we also hear a lot about the difficulty of maintaining an independent bookstore nowadays, with quickly changing technology and ease of online ordering. Today, I’m excited to feature an interview with Shirley Mullin, the owner of the fantastic Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis, IN.

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Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore has been serving the Indianapolis area for over 25 years. It has been featured in Indy’s Child Parenting Magazine, Visit Indy, and Publisher’s Marketplace. The store’s events include author visits and a plethora of story times. Definitely check it out if you’re in the Indianapolis area (or just passing through!). And don’t forget to look at all the ways you can connect with Shirley and Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore below.


1. How did you first get into the bookstore business?

I have always worked with children and books first as a Kindergarten teacher, then a librarian and now a bookseller. I have a degree in elementary education and library science….none in business! Although just before I opened the store I took a class in accounting. It was a considerable shift from having a set library budget, buying books, and serving patrons to needing to balance the income from sales with the purchases, rent, insurance, etc.


2. What have you found most challenging about the bookstore business?

It’s mostly the little things, i.e. the toilet stops working properly, the alarm goes off in the middle of the night for no reason, the staff share a flu bug, etc. These are all fixable and somewhat minor in the long run but they take time and energy.


3. What is something that surprised you about the bookstore business?

I’ve found that bookstores are different from most small businesses. Customers become attached and claim some ownership. Children who have grown up coming to Kids Ink (we’ve been in business 31 years) come back to visit when they are home from college or when they have the first baby and walk through the store touching the books with awe. I suspect that doesn’t happen at our neighborhood drug store or grocery store.


4. What makes Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore stand out?

There aren’t any other bookstores in our area…..we really need a general independent. I’m often asked why I don’t open an adult store but adult literature is not my “thing.”

We do have an eclectic bookstore near downtown Indy. They are quite small and specialize in Indiana literature so they are quite different!


5. What is one book–fiction or nonfiction–that you recommend people pick up?

I suggest everyone read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Adults can look at the amazing construction of the book. White was an classic writer and the book is excellent for looking at theme and plot structure. But beyond that, adults as well as children almost always find a character where they identify.



Here are the ways you can connect with Shirley and Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore!

Visit their site.

Follow them on their Facebook page.

Follow them on Instagram.

Check them out on Twitter.

Last but not least, visit them in person!

Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore
5619 N. Illinois Street, Indianapolis, IN 46208
Phone: 317-255-2598; Email:


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