A door with a small sign that says, “Badger’s Bookshop” precedes a set of stairs leading to what looks to be a small apartment — which is filled with books that cover every inch of the shop from top to bottom.
Immediately upon entering the shop, a man greets customers, his face covered by thick-framed black glasses and a KN-95 mask. Sitting in a brown leather chair reading his choice of historical fiction for the day is Badger’s owner Will Lock.
Lock, a retired 71-year-old, opened his Lincoln bookstore in 2015 after decades of collecting and buying books.
“I had been buying books for my own personal readings since I was 23 and kept them in my house, and by the time I decided to start this, I had close to 5,000 books in my personal collection,” Lock said. “And since then, I’ve easily bought another 10,000 books.”
Aside from his own purchases, Lock has accumulated his collection thanks to close friends and loyal customers that offer to sell him books.
Lock’s love of books first started in Central City, where he grew up on his parents’ farm.
“I started reading because my mother encouraged it, getting me a library card in Central City when I was 9 or so,” Lock said.
The peak of Lock’s collection started in the ’80s so he could read at his leisure without making weekly trips to the library.
He was attending college at UNL for public administration and then worked in state government before retiring in 2014.
When Badger’s opened in 2015, it brought about a loyal community and customers.
Caitlin Hoppe, a 22-year-old UNL college student, was browsing the neighborhood when she came across Lock’s shop.
“I had just finished shopping and noticed a sign that said ‘Badger’s Bookshop’ and thought I would just check it out,” Hoppe said.
Hoppe enjoyed the shop so much she plans on coming back regularly.
“I thought it was such a cute and charming shop; I’ve definitely made it my go-to bookshop here in Lincoln,” she said.
That’s what it is all about to Lock and what his intentions were from the start when he initially opened his shop, having a shared love for books and the environment it brings.
“I enjoy it. You know, I enjoy the heck out of it because I enjoy sharing books with people,” Lock said.