Difference Maker: Sarah Bagby

Mar 06, 2019
Sarah Bagby Difference Maker for Wichita

Newman University is proud to be a title sponsor of The Difference Makers for Wichita awards along with Emprise Bank and the Wichita Eagle/Kansas.com.

The awards, created in 2016, recognize individuals and organizations making a positive difference and celebrate their contributions, value and positive influence on improving the greater Wichita community.

The Marshall Murdock Award for Business, presented by The Wichita Eagle/Kansas.com, is named for Marshall Murdock, founder of The Wichita Eagle in 1872.

The award is given to an area business that is making a positive impact by addressing a major community challenge or by implementing ideas, which enhance opportunities for employees through creativity and innovation.

This year’s recipient, Watermark Books, owned by Sarah Bagby, brings individuals in the community together with the hope of elevating quality of life.

Bagby said owning Watermark Books stemmed from her love of reading, growing up around people who loved to read and in a home where stacks of books were abundant.

She said running the bookstore wasn’t always easy as the ’90s were a time when the large chains came to town followed by online shopping trends.

But as Bagby settled in, she began to think about what she could bring to her community, what made her bookstore unique.

“There are so many things we add to the neighborhood. We know our neighbors. We know people who live in the neighborhood. We know the kids.

“I mean I’ve seen kids grow up and get jobs in Watermark. (Watermark) is a place that people gather and make friends, a place where people come if they are celebrating something or need help getting through a tough time.”

She said having an important role within her neighborhood (the Douglas Design District), within her community, is something she strives for.

And that is just what she has done with her business. Bagby brings authors frequently to her store for readings and signings. She said whether the author is local or national, she stresses the importance of making a connection between her guest and her customers.

“Just through our product, if they’re readers, we have had a lot of new families come in and say they moved to this neighborhood because of Watermark.

“We have a place (and) we’re passionate about sharing literature and stories with people. And that is really the core of what we do. I mean, we believe that stories define us. We believe that, without stories we don’t have any kind of perspective or context of where we’ve been, where we’re going and that sort of the meat of what we do.”

Bagby doesn’t take full credit for where she is today. She said her employees at the bookstore play a huge part in the success she has seen. And during her acceptance speech at the Difference Makers for Wichita award ceremony, she said many of the people who were in the room have made a difference in her life.

Because of that, she said, “Being honored as a difference maker is quite overwhelming and appreciated.”

She added, “I’m thankful I got this award through Watermark Books and Cafè because what we do is sell stories. And those stories give context and meaning and can make a difference in people’s lives.

“And that is something that is important to us and important to me because they’ve made a difference in my life.”