Get to know Steve Ashley, owner of Valley Bookstore, this year's Small Business of the Year Award winner.

Having owned and run the Valley Bookstore for 43 years, Steve Ashley knows a thing or two (or a thousand) about running a small, successful business. The best thing part of it, he says, is seeing all of his friends and the community each day and being his own boss, in addition to the fun of selling books with his staff. The question we all have been asking Steve is what his favorite book is. Like many bibliophiles, Steve could have listed many, but narrowed it down.

Steve's favorite books are:

  • Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey

  • The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies

  • Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Now, it's time to visit Steve at the Valley Bookstore to buy his favorites!

Less fun, but equally insightful are the challenges--Steve onlys sees two. After growing his business from the ground up, came Amazon, and like many other small bookstores, he had to shrink his business. After expanding his store and its’ book collection, it was hard to give up what he loves in order to continue his business. Getting staff during the off-season is also a struggle that many other business owners face here in Jackson each year. To those thinking about opening a retail business in Jackson Hole now, he says, “it’s going to be hard, so you better love what you do!”. And Steve most defnitely does. 

He said, “books are the comfort food of the soul.”

Steve’s father owned Jackson Sporting Goods so he grew up in retail, knowing what he was getting himself into. Although his biggest motivator to open the bookstore was his love of books, which is evident to anybody that steps into Valley Bookstore. At work he describes himself as content and dedicated. Dedicated? Absolutely. Yet, Steve Ashley is so much more than just ‘content’ it seems. When talking about his store or books, he beams from within, sharing his love of books.

Another struggle for bookstores has been the digital books: Kindles, iPads etc. Steve is not opposed to reading from his iPad around the campfire, but to him having shelves of books around is like being surrounded by friends, a feeling that no technology could replace.

The Valley Bookstore has been spreading the love of books to locals in Jackson to visitors from around the world for over 40 years. Join us in celebrating Steve Ashley and the other 2019 Jackson Hole Chamber Annual Award winners the evening  of Friday, October 25th at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. On behalf of the many people who nominated you, the enthusiasm from the Annual Awards committee members, the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and our members thank you for all you do Steve!

This story is a part of #humansofjhchamber. The campaign places a focus on the faces of our local businesses and nonprofits. Learn about their inspirations, why started in their industry and more! Find the Chamber on Instagram at @jhchamber. For information about the program, please contact Director of Membership, Elisabeth Rohrbach, or 307.201.2301.

This blog was written by Membership Coordinator, Josie Monnick,