Long Live Bookstores!
I was saddened to learn that Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, NC is going to be sold. This is an award-winning independent bookstore with an incredible children’s section. Its owner, Nancy Olson, now 71, opened the store in 1984. Each week she hosts signings and parties for authors of children’s books as well as those for adults from Al Gore to Amy Tan, and such children’s book authors as John Scieszka, Ashley Bryan, James Ransome, “Erin Hunter” (Warrior series), Mo Willems, and Junie B. Jones. Just within the last few weeks Rosemary Wells and Orson Scott Card. were there.
I’ve been a Quail Ridge speaker numerous times over the last twenty years, and a loyal customer practically every week over the last ten. Children’s services coordinator Carole Moyer I think of as a special friend who’s kept my books on the shelves. Other Quail Ridge staff greet me when I enter and are always willing to help me find books and magazines and even gift-wrap them.
One particularly tender incident occurred a few years back on a excruciatingly hot day when my dog Shaka Zulu and I drove to Quail Ridge. It was so hot that I couldn’t leave my dog in my Volvo even with all the windows down. The bit of shade I found under a tree for him wasn’t any cooler. I kicked myself for bringing him.
I tied Shaka to the tree and told him I’d be back in ten minutes. Shaka growled, “Make it five, Old Gal, make it five.” That’s how we rolled.
I rushed into the store where Nancy smiled and chatted with customers. She spoke to me and I responded, adding that my dog had given me five minutes to make my purchases and get back to him under that tree.
“Oh, he’s welcome in here,” she said. “Dogs and bookstores go together.” Surprised and grateful, I hurried back to fetch my darlin’ dog.
Shaka is a well behaved dog. I worried, though, that with so many people walking around inside, and so many tall book-bulging stacks and cards everywhere to wiggle his butt and tail past would be too much of a challenge for him.
Shaka Zulu wasn’t anybody’s fool. He knew which side his dog biscuit is buttered on. Once inside he seemed to understand that he’d have to be on his best behavior if he was to stay in this comfortable place. Maybe he also smelled something familiar — books? Books were all over the place back home. He’d slept on many of them on the couch.
Shaka behaved, I made my purchase, and we hurried back to my car. It was an experience not many dogs get to have. Shaka seemed to enjoy it, and I did, too.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Quail Ridge’s new owners will love books, authors, illustrators — and dogs — as much as Nancy Olson does.
What’s a special memory that you have about your favorite bookstore?