Sue Feder is selling mysteries but hasn't time to read...


February 23, 1992|By Mary Corey

Sue Feder is selling mysteries but hasn't time to read them

Nobody loves a mystery more than Sue Feder.

In fact, she loves all 8,000 of the mysteries that make up Mystery Loves Company, her new bookstore in Fells Point.

An avid reader since childhood, Ms. Feder decided to open her store after the city's former mystery book shop, The Butler Did It, closed last year. "I couldn't imagine there not being a mystery bookstore around. What was I going to do?" she recalls thinking.

What she and two partners did was to break out on their own. Through clever marketing techniques -- a monthly catalog, a mail-order business and a short story writing contest for Baltimore city students (deadline is Saturday) -- she hopes to cultivate a loyal following. Serving afternoon tea on Sundays also helps, she says.

The new venture has taught Ms. Feder plenty about herself, including a few things the 40-year-old Parkville resident didn't want to know. "I'm a rotten personnel supervisor," she says.

What she also learned is that owning a business and working as an insurance claims representative doesn't leave much time for reading.

"Some people save money for retirement," she says with a sigh. "I'm saving books."

Life, at one time, seemed anything but promising for Sean Westley. He was working full-time, attending night school and caring for his ill wife.

But the struggle paid off, particularly since the 28-year-old Northwood resident was recently named the most promising engineer in the national Black Engineer of the Year Awards.

"Total shock" was Mr. Westley's reaction to being one of two Marylanders honored by US Black Engineer magazine and other sponsors.

As a youngster, he was known as a tinkerer who liked to take apart the family television. But when his parents separated, Mr. Westley, then a teen, assumed a less fun-filled role -- father figure.

After high school, he supported his family as a draftsman and attended Johns Hopkins University at night. He studied for 10 years to get his degree. During that time, he began his own family: a wife (who has lupus) and a 1-year-old son.

While the award has brought him personal satisfaction, Mr. Westley, who works for Greiner engineering firm, hopes it will inspire others.

"Kids see a lot of superstar athletes, but they don't see a lot of blacks in technical fields," he says. "What I hope this creates is a feeling among kids in the black community that if you put your mind to it, you can do it."

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