Saturday, March 17, 2007

... The Shop Around The Corner

Just around the corner from my home stands a charming little independent book store named Broad Street Books. In the back of the shop is a reading section for children. Jungle animals are painted on the walls & faux trees with drooping leaves create a cubby for kids to hide and read. A perfect place for imaginations to run wild.

Adults may feel more comfortable in the adjacent room where benches, strewn with pillows, line the walls -- gazing distance between the entrance to the children's room and the window frames that overlook the front area of the shop, the part where the books are sold.

The shop area is very quaint. Custom bookshelves painted a distressed white line the equally distressed brick walls. A chalkboard at the top informs the peruser what section they are located in -- fiction, local, political. In the middle of the store sit a few simple round tables donned with tablecloths and showing off some locally made cards and colorful stationary. No Barnes and Noble, you will not find discounts akin to vats of olive oil or sales of highly addictive legal stimulants. You buy what they have and you pay full price.

I suppose that may be why they are permanently closing their doors for business at the end of this month.

I stopped by today for a visit. I'd like to think it was altruistic in nature - wanting to support the independent book store - however, not so deep in my heart I knew I was here to get some cheap books. The fact is, I had never actually purchased a book from this store. I am the type who takes pride in buying discount on the internet. My pride, however, turned to embarrasment upon crossing the threshold of the shop. The man behind the counter seemed to greet me in a friendly manner, but I felt as if he recognized me for what I was-- a vulture feeding on leftover carrion.

I meandered through the store trying not to look as guilty as I felt. Picking up and putting down books, I overheard a couple near me commenting on the sale prices. They weren't low enough they declared. My mind wandered. Must saving money always be such a priority? Isn't there something to be said for the experience of strolling through a store such as this? From asking the guy behind the counter what good read he discovered this month? The store will probably turn into a baby gap or something equally depressing, I thought to myself. The little nugget of guilt had started turning into righteous indignation at the injustice that was occurring. That this poor little book store was being forced to close because people need to save a buck! Then... The Good Earth caught my eye and interrupted my thoughts. Bingo, I'd been wanting to read this book. Four Dollars?! Sweet! My mood immediately brightened.

I purchased the book, and asked what time they opened tomorrow. My thoughts had changed again... I'd have to go home and make a list of other books I'd been wanting - to see if I could save a buck...

12 comments:

Sarah said...

Good thought, Michelle ... some things are worth paying more for ...

judy said...

Let me know what you think of The Good Earth. I really liked it. After I read it, I did some research on the web on foot binding / lotus foot. Saw some pretty amazing, yet revolting pictures. You wouldn't believe how small the shoes were!

I have to say, I'm not really a bargain shopper myself. I try, but I'm never successful. Sometimes I think it is easier to just buy what you want to buy for whatever the price...

Michelle said...

So funny you should mention food binding Judy. I was just reading about it this morning on NPR's website.

AmyB said...

Sounds like someone has been watching You've Got Mail :-) Let us know how you like the book!

Mouse said...

ah...i finally read the whole thing...that's what i get for skimming! this story makes me sad. i'm a definite bargain shopper - i love target (as you well know), although i can't stand walmart anymore - it's all in the presentation and product! and i will pay more for those. this bookstore sounds like a gem indeed. the targets and barnes and nobles of the world do so much good for our economy but we lose gems like these. it's a sad reality. there's pros and cons to both. it's more than just a place where you buy books though - you go there for the experience like you said. do you remember bergy's dairy farm? similiar story - dave and i went there the day it closed (after people tried their hardest to save it) - there was a line of 100 people or more that day...everyone wanted to have the bergy's experience one more time. sure, their ice cream was good. and it might have cost more than coldstone or baskin robbins. they didn't have all the fancy toppings...and you had to go out of your way to get there...but it was bergy's. the cows were right there - you could smell them and see them! the owners and their kin and friends sold you the ice cream and other dairy farm products. you could sit outside on a picnic table and just soak up the country! i miss that! every child and adult should be able to experience that! i know dave would feel the same. thanks for stirring up such wonderful feelings of nostalgia, michelle, and for reminding us that the bottom line isn't always the most important thing. i love you!

Jennifer said...

Am so guilty of trying to save a buck. And isn't it sad how quickly you can forget that sad feeling when you found the good sale? I do that too as well. Props to the "You've got Mail" quotes and usage. Wish I was better about paying "full" price for the local business/community experience.
Jennifer

Michelle said...

Yes, yes, yes.... that is it! I felt like such a sellout. It's commonplace to try to save money but so often we are not really even saving money. Our short term deals cost us more in the long run - socially and economically. It's far more complex then we tend to see.

I am reading more books on the topic - trying to educate myself and put my convictions into practice. So I'll save my thoughts for future posts.

Danielle said...

Thoughtful piece here, Michelle. It sounds like a great place I'd love to have in my town. Too bad it's going out of business. You captured the "two sides" that I think we can all struggle with (saving a buck vs. supporting local businesses) well. Looking forward to future posts on this.

Mouse said...

Michelle, the NY Times and NPR? the NY Times? i'm not sure we can be friends anymore!

Mouse said...

dude, if you even have to ask what's wrong...don't you listen to talk radio? and npr doesn't count!

Michelle said...

Yes, I do. Do you? ;-)

Ashleigh said...

Sounds like it was a charming little bookstore! Too bad ....