Being totally upfront, WordPress changed their inputting format and it’s confusing. The last entry was a mess but I corrected it. I think.
The books – the generous friends who met me without suspicion – the merciful masters who never used me ill! – Wilkie Collins, Armadale.
Today I want to reflect on my owning a used bookstore for the past twelve years.
I’ll never forget the afternoon when I was having ‘one of those days’ at my last job. One that I loved but I knew I was getting to the end of it. Frustrated that the project I was working on wasn’t coming out to my expectations. I don’t remember what I was working on – a publication? webpage? article? Or something entirely different. I only knew I had to clear my head and take a break. Usually I’d grab the camera, take a walk to the residential part of Middlebury to get away from everything. But on this particular day I chose the downtown area. Even as I headed in that direction I thought it was very unlike me but forward I went. There outside of the old Lazarus Building on Main Street was a sign declaring “Used Bookstore for sale. Inquire within.” I walked through the door, down the stairs to the gentleman behind the desk and asked him how much. Ran back to my desk, called my husband and declared that we are buying a used bookstore. Went to the bank, drew up a check and went back to the bookstore with check in hand and well, the rest is history. Here I am. Twelve years later owning a used bookstore and happy as all can be.
I’m asked how I got into the business. Frankly I think it was fate. I have no history of true literature, or retail. I grew up reading a lot of Reader Digest monthly books. Walking or hopping on my bike to the Ilsley Library. I was constantly directed to the children’s section of the library. The adult books were not for me. But they were. I had to convince one librarian that I could read Carl Sandburg’s Lincoln book. Of course I was quizzed when I returned it. She declared I could read it and therefore was allowed to wander in the adult section. Even to check out an adult book. If appropriate.
I was a young adult when I discovered used bookstores. What a wonder! I loved that others had read the book but in a used bookstore the books had been owned by someone else. How special it made them! From then on, wherever I went I had to find a used bookstore.
One year my husband, Rusty, had eye surgery and looking for entertainment during the long winter I suggested looking for used bookstores. With the Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers Association (VABA) brochure & map in hand we headed out to discover what we could. Sometimes the shop would be unexpectedly closed, some surprised for the visitation, but all-in-all it was one of my best winters. Again, never in my wildest dreams. VABA’s spring book sales? I had to be first in. Very nerdy but I just had to be. Now I’m a VABA member. And I found that used bookstore owners are the coolest. I hope that someday I can be on their level of coolness.
Now that I’ve had the shop for all these years I can’t imagine not owning it. I can’t imagine piling books, covering dust jackets, cleaning books, looking into boxes of books and picking out a few knowing that they had to come into the store. It is a way of life that I have to be a part of. For always.
The people! I understand that some I will never meet again but there are others I know we are bonded for life. Over a sale of a book. I recognize folks who visit the area for the summer. When I shop in town I want to run up to customers to ask how they liked the book. But I don’t. I try to be a cool used bookstore lady. I love connecting to people who come in. I want to share. I want people to read. I don’t care if they just wander in and wander out. At least they came in and offered company on the quiet days.
I enjoy sale days. Like today. Great that many are recognizing when sales are held. Generally over an anniversary of some kind. And then there’s February!
So, dear reader of this blog. Thank you. Thank you if you have been into the store. Thank you for everything. I truly appreciate all you have brought to the store and to me. Here’s to whatever the future holds.
I feel free and strong. If I were not a reader of books I could not feel this way. Whatever may happen to me, thank God that I can read, that I have truly touched the minds of other men. – Walter Tevis, Mockingbird