A lot has happened in Mark Carlson’s life since he graduated from Newman University in 2017.
For starters, he married alumna Emily Powell in 2018. He also joined the Army National Guard a couple years ago.
Most recently, Carlson took a position with Wichita-based ICTBooks as its store manager.
The bookstore was started by his brother-in-law, Tom Richmond, and Tom’s friend Josh Bostian. Initially, the business sold exclusively online and kept a warehouse in town that was used for sorting books, which occasionally opened its doors to local in-person customers.
“They got so busy during those open days that they decided to open a regular bookstore,” Carlson explained. “Emily and I were hired to help run it while they handled the online business.”
Today, ICTBooks markets itself as a discount used bookstore, with a set price of $1 for all books and media.
“The best part about working for ICTBooks is seeing the joy we’re bringing to our customers,” Carlson said. “I’ve had so many positive comments about how the store is their new favorite place to shop for books. I can’t guarantee that we have the exact book on the shelf that they came to look for, but it’s almost certain they’ll find something they used to love reading or is no longer available elsewhere.”
The store also sees a lot of teachers, homeschoolers and school librarians come in to restock their shelves.
“They’re usually amazed at the wide selection we offer them,” Carlson said.
In fact, ICTBooks has more than 1,000 shelves in its store with more on the way.
“The challenge will be to decide where we can put them and what will be put on them,” Carlson said. “You can imagine how long it takes to restock after a week of business.”
Additionally, ICTBooks is committed to helping better the community. The store participated in the Wichita Homeschool Fair this year, where they had a booth to sell products and bring awareness to homeschooling families about how ICTBooks can be a great resource for them.
The store also has a community pantry by its checkout desk, constructed by the ICT Community Fridge Project, where customers can donate canned goods, non-perishable items and toiletries.
“When money is tight, the weather is poor and essentials are harder to come by, it’s more important than ever to remember to help where you can,” Carlson said. “And, of course, our prices mean that parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians are passing on the gift of learning and the joy of reading to future generations without breaking the bank. Books and media should be accessible.”
For Carlson, books have always had an impact on his life.
“Growing up, I had the most bookshelves in the house,” he said. “I especially love to study the creative process behind books, such as their hidden symbolism and why the author chose to write the stories in the first place. It’s a dream of mine to one day write my own book, but working with them daily is a wonderful job for a bibliophile.”
Carlson’s experience at Newman also elevated his love of literature. He was a secondary education and theater double major with the initial goal of becoming a middle school or high school English teacher. He taught for two years with the Catholic Diocese of Wichita Schools before his endeavor with ICTBooks.
Carlson’s major campus activities centered around the Newman theater program, as he performed in plays, musicals and choir under the direction of Mark Mannette, Deanne Zogleman and Carole Pracht, among others.
Carlson encourages people to visit ICTBooks, located not too far from Newman’s campus at 1740 S. Colorado St.
“The customer experience significantly influences how our store is managed,” he said. “That’s why we try to label our shelves, organize them into sections, alphabetize them by the author’s last name and help customers as much as possible to point them in the right direction. However, part of our appeal is the opportunity to dig for treasure in our giant book bins. You never know what you will find.”
Majors that cater to a love of reading
Whether it’s a degree in education, English or interdisciplinary studies, you can discover the perfect degree fit at Newman University to help launch your career.