A Storybook Success

How Diane Capriola turned the Little Shop of Stories into a Decatur icon

On February 3, 2004, Diane Capriola sat down at her computer and hit send on an email that would change the course of her life. A voracious reader as a child and teenager, she dreamed of opening a children’s bookstore. A busy mother with three young kids, the email was about finding a partner or partners who shared her vision.

The early 2000s seemed like a picture-perfect time for a family-oriented store in Decatur’s growing downtown area. The city was coming into its own with a flurry of restaurants and shops opening their doors to a community seeking kinship. Even the Decatur Downtown Development, whom Diane spoke with, was looking to add a bookstore to the downtown area.

512 days. 11 hours. 43 minutes. That’s how long it took Diane’s email to come to fruition. Connecting with Dave Shallenberger, her business partner for the past 19 years, Diane’s vision became a reality. Located at 515 North McDonough Street right below Eddie’s Attic, the Little Shop of Stories (a name her mother came up with) opened to the public. It later moved to its current location in 2008. With Diane and Dave working full-time, their first official hire was Terra McVoy. The only person with any bookstore experience, she went on to become an author, and still runs its Kids & Companions and Page Turners book groups.

Those early days were fraught with growing pains. Poised and passionate, Diane pushed forward, eventually establishing herself and the store’s place in the book world. “You have to be open to continual growth and pivoting when you own a small business. That doesn’t change. There is a willingness to take risks and to view failure as opportunities, an openness to always growing and changing and adapting. You also have to have a constant desire to connect with others and their ideas. Staying stagnant or comfortable is the opposite of that spirit.”

A two-time winner of the prestigious “Pannell Award,” a national recognition that honors independent bookstores demonstrating excellence in children’s bookselling, Little Shop of Stories and its owner have settled into the fabric of the community. Today, Diane is rewarded when local college students and new parents come back to show their friends and children the bookstore they grew up with.

“Our mission is to get children excited about reading. The books we put on our shelves and the events we plan are all centered on that. When you’re working to get kids to love books and reading, their parents are a big part of the equation. If parents are not reading themselves or lifting up books and reading, our job is that much harder.”


Little Shop of Stories

133A East Court Square



Decatur Rapid Fire…
Diane Capriola-Little
Little Shop of Stories

Biggest influence?  
My mom.

Three traits every leader should have?
Creativity. Persistence. Resilience.

What book are you reading now?
Just finished “The Ministry of Time” by Kaliane Bradley.

What are you binge watching?
“The West Wing” (for the third time)

Who is the artist you cannot take off your playlist?  

Biggest thing on your bucket list?
Bookstore tour of the UK.

Favorite Decatur spot?
Little Shop of Stories. Oh wait, you mean beside us, right? Three way tie: Brickstore Pub, Chai Pani and 246.

The first place every newcomer to Decatur should visit first?
Brick Store Pub. Our city has grown up around this institution.

The best thing a customer ever said to you?
“Thanks for helping my kid learn to love reading and books.”

What’s your favorite quote?  
“There are good books which are only for adults. There are no good books which are only for children.” — WH Auden


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