"My bookstore is in a very unusual place—we’re in a strip mall, but we’re one of the anchor stores. And we straddle two neighborhoods of very different socioeconomic backgrounds. So we get people of all sorts of walks of life in here, and I get to interact with people I would otherwise probably never meet. And we just talk. The books put us all on an even playing field. And sometimes those conversations go into shared life experiences or topics of the day. It all boils down to this: We all just want to live happy lives with each other—regardless of where we live, what color we are, what sexual orientation we are. We want to be happy people and see our neighbors and family happy.
About three years ago, I was asked to give a tour of the store to a youth organization of girls from a school in a pretty impoverished area. So they came in—they were probably fifth or sixth graders—and I gave them a tour, and it was clear that none of them had ever set foot in a bookstore. A lot of them were confusing it for a library. But I took them behind the scenes and showed them what we do. And they were so thrilled. A few of them were saying that they would bring their moms back. And I’m like, “Oh, sure, okay,” thinking maybe not, because books are not always a priority—not when you have rent, and have to keep the lights on, and have to keep clothes on your back. I lived the same way, so anytime I could purchase a book, it was like Christmas for me. But one young lady badgered her mother so much that her mother brought her back to the store. And her mother told me, “I’ve never seen her so excited. I’m not a reader, her dad’s not a reader, but all she asked for was to come back to the bookstore.” She warned me that they couldn’t spend a lot of money on books. We get that. But every time they come back, they get at least one book to bring home. It’s not necessarily in the budget, but they’re making it a priority. I think that’s amazing.
⠀⠀⠀⠀ Bookstores are vital to a community. Even the big chain stores. We’re needed. And communities that don’t have a bookstore are lacking—part of their soul is missing."
Kim Brock is a Bookse