The Comeback Kids: Dave Pedersen and Maze Books

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Dave Pedersen has worked several jobs across a multitude of industries and now he’s back home with his fascination for writing and reading along for the ride. Dave’s newest venture is in downtown Rockford where you’re encouraged to go in with an open mind to find your latest read.

The sounds of flipping pages and the scents of used, vintage and first-edition books are familiar to Pedersen. Now, it’s home to him. Rockford is his hometown and he spent years going from job to job most recently working as director of volunteers for the Veterans’ Home at Manteno. Back in June, he opened Maze Books on Third Street in downtown Rockford.

“I came back to Rockford and saw there was this renaissance of art and culture downtown specifically but there was no bookstore. In my opinion and many others, you can’t have a downtown without a nice independent bookstore. You can’t have an arts revival without including literature,” Pedersen says.

The Guilford alum followed in his dad’s and grandfather’s military footsteps, serving his country in Korea and Germany. An injury forced him to leave the army and start another career and direction. He says, “Even though I had a ticket to go anywhere I wanted, for some reason I chose Rockford because this is what I know. There’s so much here to see and to write about and to talk about that pretty much all of those jobs and all of those experiences led me to where I’m at today.”

He loves to brag about his community, saying Rockford embraces its working-class roots and its acceptance of everyone. “If you go into Chicago, you have that. You have that Carl Sandburg, brick-mortar feeling from the streets. But here, it’s more involved. It doesn’t matter where you come from. If you walk into an art gallery, book store or wherever downtown, it doesn’t matter what your background is, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re part of this community. It wouldn’t be as vibrant without it.”

Maze Books has more than 10,000 books on its shelves. The store itself will be a space for people to read, relax and collaborate. Most of the books at the store are used with the collection rotating at times. He left the public service industry during the COVID-19 pandemic to pursue his passion of reading, writing and more. This store is him pursuing his new passion and says this is a need Rockford hasn’t had for years, hoping to spread this to Stateliners all around.

Dave says, “There’s nothing like it anywhere I’ve ever been. I’ve been to Korea, Germany, the Czech Republic and Amsterdam. Really, I’ve been all over the place. I’ve never met people who are as down-to-earth or as nice as people in Rockford. The best part of Rockford is the people.”

Dave also tells 23 News that he cleans every single book in his collection so they look brand new when a customer picks them up.