In my business, there's no more welcome news than the opening of a new independent bookstore. Independent bookstores are my life's blood, they run through my veins and keep me healthy spiritually and, of course, financially. They are good for publishers and good for the country.
This news is especially grand if the bookstore is run by professionals who clearly know and love books and the book business. Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC fits that definition to a tee.
Charles Fiore, the Communications Director at North Carolina's Writers' Network, recently wrote a wonderful piece about Scuppernong. Here is some of his interview with Steve Mitchell, the Pushcart Prize nominated fiction writer, playwright, poet and the store's self described "Food and Beverage Overlord":
Can you talk a little bit about the concept for the Scuppernong Books and what patrons will find when they go there?
Scuppernong Books is a beautiful space filled with books and great people. And coffee. And wine. And food. And books. The building dates from 1898 and it’s in downtown Greensboro. We have seating at the bar, in the front window. There are sofas in the back. And books. Our inventory is 80 percent new and 20 percent used. Nearly every day, new books come in, chosen by staff members who love them or are, at least, interested in them.
That’s the concept, really. People loving books, together. The wine and food allows for another social layer. We always thought of the store as a community space. For book clubs and meetings and author talks and whatever else we, or someone else, can come up with.
Along with hosting literary events and readings, and showcasing art on the walls, Scuppernong Books invites artists to "guest-bartend". How does this program work, and who benefits? How do the artists like making an “honest living” for a change?
The idea is to engage the community. In as many ways as possible. It’s fun. It gets people into the store. We showcase a charity; all tips for the night go to the charity of the guest-bartender’s choice. And who wouldn’t want to go to a reading where the author pours them a drink or makes them a cappuccino after? The guest bartenders love the interaction. It’s the mopping they hate. All artists hate to mop. I guess that’s the “honest living” part.
As for Brian Lampkin, (seen celebrating the store's opening below), other than running the store and buying the books he is also currently writing and performing with a couple of composers in a band they fondly call The Difficulties.
He told me this hilarious story about the store:
"Our favorite customer is in jail at the moment, but before he went away he gave us our mantra. You see, as a bar/bookstore we have issues arise that plain old bookstores do not need to deal with. In our early days after opening, our aforementioned favorite customer (jailed) had to be asked to leave after four beers before 11:00 a.m. At first this puzzled him, even angered him, but over time he grew to understand and accept our odd limits with this refrain: "Because you're a bookstore, not a bar!" And we'd say, "Yes, exactly!" And now we use it as shorthand for any situation that demands limits. For instance, when we close at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday with 10 people happily drinking in the store, it's "because we're a bookstore not a bar!" When we yell last call at 9:45 it's "Because we're a bookstore, not a bar!"It really does help us keep our priorities straight. And we sincerely hope our friend is out of jail soon. He adds character."
Here are a few more photos I took on my recent early morning visit, plus this one from opening day:
Clean, well-lit and attractively set up with a soothing color scheme and easy to find sections........great job, everyone!
I love these paintings............
Is that not the coolest "Children's Books" sign ever?
This is a shot looking back out at the street, the glassed-in nook is perfect for relaxing, reading and catching up on e-mails.
The front counter.
Scroll to the right on this one....
Be sure to visit (and "like") their Facebook page.
Finally, here is Brian with Kira Larson, the Children's Book Buyer, just waiting to serve you a nice cold beer (but not too many).