Mills fulfills dream by opening bookstore on the Square
GLEN ROSE — To Janet Mills, her Rhythm & Co. Books on the corner of Elm and Barnard streets in the Downtown Square is more than just a bookstore.
“It's kind of like a book itself, with pages and chapters written by family and friends,” she said.
Several years ago, Mills, an avid reader and book collector, bounced the idea of opening a bookstore off of her husband Mark, who was supportive — but cautious — and wanted her to have a firm business plan. Those plans, however, were put on hold while Mark battled brain cancer. In 2017, he passed away, and she revisited the idea, but it took a couple of years to come to fruition.
“I decided for the New Year I was going to do the bookshop thing for real — in a brick-and-mortar space in Glen Rose on the Square,” she said.
She dabbled with an outdoor store in Canton and a pop-up store at Shoo-Fly Soda Shop on the Square, where she sold a lot of books, but she wanted a place to call her own.
“Right about the time the pandemic hit this building became available,” she said. “After much discussion with all my grown kids and siblings, I decided I just needed to jump in and do it."
Just after Thanksgiving in 2020, Rhythm & Co. opened.
Inside, of course, there are all kinds of books for readers of all ages, but there are also simple reminders of her family. Parts of her mother’s Baby Grand Piano hang throughout the store and are now shelves. Also, there is a painting of her granddaughter reading alongside Rhythm — Mills’ dog, a female yellow Lab — for whom the store is named.
Rhythm came to Mills as a pup who would eventually be trained as a guide dog for Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida. She raised her to the required age and sent her back for training, but 18 months later, Rhythm came back after experiencing ear infections that warranted what Mills called a “career change.”
Rhythm returned to 7 Acre Wood (the name of Mills’ place in Glen Rose), and Mills got Rhythm certified as a therapy dog, and she became a therapy dog extraordinaire. It was what she was meant to do, Mills said.
“I started a reading program at the schools and at the library — letting kids read to the dogs. Rhythm became quite famous around town. At some point I decided that I would really like to have my own bookstore and Rhythm could be the bookstore dog,” Mills said.
"It was always supposed to be Rhythm’s store, but she died in the spring of 2018. Her spirit is here with me though.”
Although Rhythm isn’t here to be the bookstore dog, she has some good stand-in dogs, said Mills, who is still raising pups for Southeastern Guide Dogs.
Rosie, a Lab/Golden mix, has her own spot in the store with her own personal window, and Stephen, a black Lab, came back to her from Southeastern Guide Dogs because of some health issues. He gets to be the bookstore greeter, Mills said.
Looking back, it was meant to be, she said. Everything from the financing (InterBank) taking a chance on her as a first-time business owner to carpenters Greg and Pebble Edwards, to Maria Villa and Tonya Fonseca of Working Artist Studio, “who spread magic in and out of this building.”
“I could not have done any of it without the help and support of those family members and dear friends,” Mills said. “Especially my daughter, Julie, who has been my right hand, go-to, cheerleader. My little bookstore was built with a lot of sweat and tears and love. And I hope that others feel that.”
Rhythm & Co. is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, but it is closed on Sundays and Tuesdays.