Funding sought for planned Verona bookstore and cafe

Ryan Kimmett hopes to open 'Kismet Books' in historic Matts House.
Photo Courtesy Kimmett
The Matts House, a historic building in Verona, could be a local bookstore's new home. (Photo courtesy Ryan Kimmett)

Ryan “Rye” Kimmett hopes to make her childhood dream of opening a bookstore into a reality by raising $55,000 for a Verona-based shop in the historic Matts House. 

While Kimmett still has a ways to go in the planning process — including officially signing a lease — she’s been working through the coronavirus pandemic to plan her store, which will include a café and sitting area.  

“Its just this beautiful [building, and] what I hope could be a hub for the city,” says Kimmett about the Matts House. “I just really like the idea of preserving a community space in this historic building.” 

The would-be bookseller wants her store to help preserve a building which dates to around 1848, before the town of Verona got its name, according to the Verona Area Historical Society. The Matts House, which sits on the north-east corner of Verona’s main intersection, attracted curious visitors at the time it was built. It served as the post office in the early days of Verona’s history.  

Matts House Courtesy Verona Historical Society

An undated photo of the Matts House. (Photo courtesy of the Verona Historical Society)

One of the oldest photos of the Matts House, located in Verona, WI.

The building was purchased in 2013 by Troy Rost of Lake Effect Properties and co-owner, Jim Hagstron, for a dollar. Rost said he then renovated the building so it could house local businesses. 

The $55,000 Kimmett is raising through the online fundraising platform GoFundMe is intended to pay for her first book order — money she has to pay up front to stock her shelves. As for the cafeKimmett is working with Rost, who has experience turning other historic buildings into dining spaces, such as Middleton’s Stamm House. 

Kimmett is hoping to occupy the building after the current clothing store, The Purple Goose, ends its lease. She hopes to sell books for all kinds of readers, but as a mother of two, wants to to have an especially robust children’s section.

“I have an eight-yearold and a two-yearold that are already badgering me with opinions and ideas,” Kimmett says. “My eight-year-old has very big ideas for the kids’ section, some of which are achievable, others not so much. She’s already told me that when me and her dad get old, she’s going to take the business and we can go and travel. She already thinks we’re old, so I think she thinks that [will be] next year.”

Kimmett says that for someone who moved around a lot as a child, she’s excited to commit to living and and operating a business in Verona. “I’m not one that’s typically ready to put down roots. The fact that I feel so strongly about [how] this is our home and I want to stay here forever, that means something,” Kimmett says. 

Kimmett says she has been passionate about books since a young age. She recalls being grounded for staying up late at night reading.

She plans to name the store “Kismet Books” — a play on the word kismet, meaning fate, and the similar-sounding surname of her husband/high school sweetheart, with whom she felt destined to share her life.

In social media surveys of local residents, Kimmett says the community appears supportive of the bookstore concept, Less than a week after launching the GoFundMe page, the project had raised about $1,000 of the $55,000 goal. Nevertheless, Kimmett hopes to open the store this fall — with delivery and curbside options available for patrons — in time for the holidays.

Celia Young is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.