Untold businesses shuttered during the pandemic. A very few managed to thrive — generally those who satisfied stay-at-home demands. But while you may know about Peloton and Zoom, you can add to that list one Bookshop.org, which launched in January 2020 with the aim of helping indie booksellers become ecommerce contenders. Helping stir-crazy readers and offering a local alternative to certain omniretail monoliths? This profile of the company and its founder manages to feel like that elusive species known as a “feel-good business story.”

Every six months, Bookshop dumped 10 percent of its sales, in equal shares, into the accounts of bookstores that had opted into its earnings pool. Some store owners were caught by surprise when they checked their accounts. VaLinda Miller, who runs Turning Page Bookshop in the suburbs of Charleston, South Carolina, was facing a crisis when a broken air conditioner caused a gnarly mold outbreak in her shop. She realized she would have to move but couldn’t afford to give a new landlord several months’ rent, replace damaged merchandise, and pay movers all at once. When she finally remembered to check her Bookshop account, she was astonished to see that Turning Page had more than $19,000—enough to cover the move. “It hit during the perfect time,” she says. “It’s been a blessing.”