Another reason to support making debate a graduation requirement for all South Dakota high schoolers: old debaters are keeping the book business alive in Watertown! Former Watertown debater Renee Scriver runs The Book Zealot, while her old coach, Donus D. Roberts, the points-earning-est debate coach in all of these United States, runs DDR Books.
Two independent book stores in a town of 22,000 people? That’s one smart town! Watertown’s smarts come in no small part from the four debate classes their high school offers.
Neither Scriver nor Roberts says the local intelligentsia are making them millionaires (the intelligentsia never do). Scriver and Roberts both depend on visitor business:
“We don’t have a lot of 5’s pulling up to our store,” said Scriver, referring to Codington County license plates. She relies on regulars from as far away as Sioux Falls and Brookings and as well as many local communities.
Roberts said summer months and the current holiday season are his best-selling times. What hurt his business was the closing of the Goss Building, which had brought tourists to the downtown area and his store. But he was well aware of that risk in 2016 when he took his part-time business to full-time in a downtown location [J.T. Fey, “Watertown Bookstore Owners Struggle to Stay in Business,” WPO via Sioux City Journal, 2018.12.10].
But the bottom line isn’t always the bottom line:
“I guess the bottom line is when you come to work, do you like opening the door,” Roberts said. “The answer is yes” [Fey, 2018.12.10].
That’s certainly why I open the blog door every morning.