Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Fountain Bookstore Family

I talk a lot about "The Fountain Bookstore Family" in the shop. In the last few weeks I've had a chance to really think about what that means to me.

Yesterday, I attended the funeral of one of our customer family members. I didn't know Mark very well...mainly through her orders which were delivered to her out in the country by the former owner of Fountain, Boo Smythe.

She was one of my favorite kinds of readers: she'd find out about an author and then immediately have to have all of the author's collected works. Loved series writers, excellent taste in mysteries. Her orders and the obvious thirst behind them always made me smile. I'll miss her.

It was unseasonably cold at the Fork Church cemetery, but the warmth of the small congregation (its own family) welcomed me as we said goodbye to someone much loved and respected. Fork Church celebrates its 275th anniversary this year. That's something special.

Boo and Jim Smythe belong to this church. While I've thanked them privately for the space they gave me in the Fountain Family back in 2000 when they first brought me in, I'd like to make a special thanks to them now publicly for showing me what it can mean to own a community bookstore, to make it a place that is welcoming, nurturing and playful. A place that provides solace, a needed respite, a good belly laugh. A place you belong.

Joyce Clay was the first owner of Fountain in 1978. I owe her a debt of thanks as well for recognizing Richmond's need for a good independent bookstore. The Smythe's took over in 1985. They passed the baton in 2008 to me.

I hope they made a good choice. On my best days, I feel up to the task.

I delivered a few books to Kuba Kuba the other day: my "first baby" present to Manny Mendez for his boy Noah. Manny's the owner of Kuba Kuba...and if you haven't eaten there, well, you're missing something. (Yes, I'm a year late, I know). Among the selections was Me Hungry! I picked it because I think the caveman daddy looks like Manny...just a little.

Another group in the Fountain Bookstore Family is the Anderson-Ellis clan. Three generations of wonderful readers. I had the pleasure of knowing little Sophie's parents before they even met and now she's reading. It's a beautiful thing.

The Family extends outside just the customers and my wonderful staff (who deserve their own blog post...stay tuned) to the authors. Far too many to mention, but I will mention Gigi Amateau
(and her great mom, husband and daughter). Again, our author friends deserve an entire post...probably several

And we get new family members all the time! We recently welcomed Rebecca Schinsky to the family. She's an exceptionally sharp book blogger. Find her at The Book Lady's Blog . One of those people who instantly "got it".

My point in bringing up individuals (Mark, the Anderson-Ellis's, Manny, Rebecca and Gigi) is not to single them out to the exclusion of the rest of the Fountain Family, but to illustrate that you
are individuals to us. To me.

Every time you walk through the door: you're a part of it.

Every time you share with me a book you love: you feed it.

Every time you tell someone else about us: you build it.

I was tempted to end this post with "Amazon: Bite me." But they're a fact of life and I don't begrudge any business's right to exist. Besides, Boo would be very, very disappointed in me. (I am trying to clean up my trash mouth and my attitude Boo, I promise.)

Instead, I'll imagine Mark up in the sky with all the books and all the health and time she needs to read them. I'll think about Noah and Sophie and storytime. Who knows? Maybe they'll meet in 25 years and have little readers of their own! And if I'm very, very lucky, maybe I'll get to buy them their "first baby" book then.

You change the world every time you step through our doors. My gratitude is beyond measure.

Thank you for being part of the Fountain Bookstore Family.


  1. ...and for those of you who lived through the first draft accidental postings: I apologize for being the dysfunctional family member.

  2. THIS is why indie bookstores are going to survive and thrive---you can't find that kind of community in a big box or on a screen. I'm honored beyond words to be part of this family!