Anybody else put the local indie bookstore on your must-see list whenever you travel someplace new?
Last month, I visited Bookmarks in Winston Salem, N.C. It’s a lovely bookstore – from the fun murals in the breezeway leading to the entrance, to the caricatures that line the bookshelves (showcasing authors who have visited there). Adjoining the store is Footnote, which has coffee and pastries, cocktails and small plates, and a charming event space. It’s the perfect complement.
The aspect I found most unique about Bookmarks is that it’s a literary arts nonprofit. “Books with Purpose” is their tagline. You can see from this graphic their impact is far-reaching. If you ever have the chance to visit the lovely little town of Winston Salem, N.C., stop by and say hello!
2020 UPDATE: Heartbroken to share the news that Enchanted Chapters Bookstore went out of business due to the COVID-19 shutdown. I’m keeping this article live, as a tribute to the owners and their mission.
Enchanted Chapters opened its doors in October 2019, as a “youth-focused bookstore working toward inclusion one book at a time.” While the store carries titles for adults (fiction, memoirs, cookbooks, parenting, etc.), it was designed for children and young adults to have a comfortable, inclusive place to relax, learn and grow through literature. It sells a wide selection of children’s books and young adult fiction, as well as comic books, graphic novels, unique toys and book-themed gifts.
The store has a bright and welcoming atmosphere, with lots of natural light from its large storefront windows and a kid-lit themed mural painted by a local artist. It includes a children’s play area designed as a sensory room – a place individuals with autism can go to feel safe, calm, supported and focused. Enchanted Chapters also has two nonhuman staff members: Bellatrix, a hairless sphinx cat; and Potter, a green cheek conure (both named after Harry Potter characters).
Enchanted Chapters already has a full calendar of monthly events. Goings-on include book clubs for all ages, toddler story time, family trivia night and social groups for home school families. Special events for the holidays are also on the agenda.
Phoenix has a thriving, supportive and inclusive community for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. Here’s a sampling of the organizations based in the city:
SEEDs for Autism: education, vocational training and social development for young adults
No vacation is complete (for me, at least) without a visit to the local bookstore. A few weeks ago, during an escape to the cool, clear air of the Colorado mountains, I wandered past Next Page Books & Nosh on Main Street in Frisco. It was love at first sight.
Window signage beckons with “books, cards, beer, wine, tea, coffee, food, friends.” The door is propped wide open. What more invitation does a person need? How about a friendly dog to greet you at the door? Yes, a person needs that, and Next Page delivers.
The store has a wide selection of books, a bright and welcoming children’s section, a sparkling well-stocked café, merchandise from local artisans, and a friendly, helpful staff. All that is lovely. Yet, what impressed me most about Next Page is how completely it embraces its community. The establishment hosts events nearly every day in the shop’s inviting “living room,” from monthly book club get-togethers and weekly crafts/stories for the kids, to happy hours with live music and author signings with New York Times best-sellers like Eleanor Brown (who I missed meeting by one day – curses!).
Next Page has set a high bar for indie and chain bookstores alike. Since I had already purchased a (ridiculous) number of books before my vacation, I bought a Next Page t-shirt and a stack of note cards featuring gorgeous images of Frisco by local photographer Carrie Michalowski. I hope to visit Next Page again in the future. In the meantime, I will stay connected to them online and encourage all bookstore enthusiasts to do the same.