In this day and age of Amazon, Kindles, large box bookstores, streaming services and social media that battle for extra of our awareness day-to-day, local, impartial bookstores are in continuous opposition with these large hitters. And nevertheless, those like Blue Ridge Books appear to weather it all. So what’s the mystery?

For Jo Gilley and Allison Lee, the key lies in the group they provide, which in switch has sustained Blue Ridge Textbooks by means of thick and slim for 15 a long time. 

“The most effective matter we have is recognizing our customers, loving our clients and loving the books,” reported Lee. 

Lee and Gilley aren’t your usual enterprise associates. They had recognized each and every other and labored collectively for about six months when they resolved to choose on ownership and administration of Blue Ridge Books from its former house owners Robert and Betsy Baggett. But 12 and a fifty percent decades later on, they are relishing in the community guidance as they celebrate the business’s 15th anniversary. 


Probably the most valuable portion of this company for the co-house owners is the cultivation of local community. It has revealed up with fantastic force many occasions throughout the bookstore’s background.

In 2017 Gilley and Lee relocated to the place in Hazelwood they even now inhabit. In undertaking so they have been a massive section of the area’s renaissance. The shift was heading to be a enormous undertaking, and the two females had prepared a full month of in-concerning to get it all performed. Having said that, Manager Mary Skelton balked at that notion. An full month? She stated they could get it performed in two times. Sure ample, Skelton utilized the help of the Blue Ridge Textbooks neighborhood and so numerous people confirmed up to help that a lot of volunteers didn’t even have work to do. 

During the shutdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals from about the location, and throughout the nation that experienced frequented the retail store at some position, did what they could to assist the bookstore stay in organization. Some men and women pay as you go on their account to assistance with income flow, and then picked up textbooks as desired during the pandemic. 

“Some of them are nonetheless getting issues now, from what they paid again then,” stated Gilley. “During COVID we definitely saw how substantially neighborhood we had.”

Neighborhood authors also played an essential position in encouraging get by means of covid. David Pleasure posted on social media inquiring people today to get his new book “ When These Mountains Burn up ,” from independent bookstores in the area. 

“People ordered from all in excess of the nation, it was remarkable. It helped a great deal,” explained Gilley. 


For Gilley and Lee, books and reading through have generally been a main piece of their lives. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to locate them studying the same books.

“For a long time ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ was the one particular e-book we had in prevalent,” stated Lee.

For two avid audience, that’s indicating a large amount. But they comprehended this as a power. Their awareness and desire in literature spanned as broad as it could for two people. 

“There have been so a lot of times when guides altered what I experienced constantly considered or what I had constantly recognised,” said Lee. 

“I think every person feels harmless and snug in a bookstore,” said Gilley. “They occur in below and, I imply, I kid, I tell everybody we’re like a bar, you know, we hear to your issues as we’re cleaning off the bar. It’s just a secure put. We really don’t have to concur with every little thing they say, but they know they can say it.”

This style of customer treatment is central to cultivating the local community that sustains a area bookstore. There is a rule amid reserve sellers, a common a single that will garner realizing nods and sly smiles from people in the business. The rule is no pointing. And when you could have been pointed in the direction of the biography or mystery/thriller segment at a major-box shop, you are going to likely by no means expertise that in an unbiased bookstore. These booksellers know that you adhere with a buyer, walk them over to a shelf or a area of the retail outlet and support them discover particularly what they’re wanting for, or even much better, the reply to “what do I go through up coming?”

“It’s all about matching the book to the human being, hoping to assistance them, that relationship,” claimed Lee. 

Individuals associations really don’t only increase to the readers. Gilley and Lee have developed some pretty impactful relationships with authors all over their a long time in the business. 

“We have a number of all those authors, who when we ask them to do points, when we’ve collaborated with other corporations, they are generally on board,” mentioned Lee. 

Events and e book signings enable to get folks through the door, hook up, go products and usually get persons fired up about a guide. And although Gilley and Lee have finished readings and gatherings with a broad range of authors, they are particularly invested in regional authors. They always take the prospect to position guests towards the local segment, a significant shelf near the front of the shop. 


Navigating the constantly shifting setting of the book globe is a challenge that Gilley and Lee are a lot more than prepared to facial area. They know that if they preserve up with their clients, and the likely on of the literary beat, they will succeed in bringing persons what they will need.

Do these two booksellers have a favorite reserve? Barely. It shifts as typically as they take in new content and delve into remarkable new worlds, priming them for new ideas each working day. But there are people titles that have trapped with them at any time considering that they closed the cover. 

What are their hopes for the small business in excess of the following 15 years? 

“I hope it’s surviving and to see a different technology come up that we’ve viewed improve,” said Gilley. “I want to be relevant to the neighborhood.”

“Being in a position to be supportive of our colleges is very critical to us,” explained Lee. “We’re often striving to figure out items to do, to be supportive of the universities, and I’d actually like to keep on to do that. Due to the fact I imagine there is a populace of young children in school that are not studying and they’re not reading textbooks that reflect who they are and people are important issues. Whoever you are and whatsoever your circumstance is, there is a ebook that can communicate to you.” 

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