|Ernest & Hadley Booksellers, Tuscaloosa, AL|
There are two kinds of towns that when I visit, I'm surprised when I learn that they don't have an independent bookstore. The first kind is the town of 40-50,000 and larger without an indie. The second kind is the town that is the home of a major university without an indie. A year ago, Tuscaloosa was in both categories of towns. But since December, the founders and owners of Ernest & Hadley have resolved this problem for Tuscaloosa, population of 90,000+ and home of the University of Alabama (is this where I say, "roll Tide?"). This indie is only a few months old but I'm already predicting a long, successful business.
Ernest & Hadley is off to a flying start in the world of independent bookstores and its easy to see why after meeting co-owner, Avery L. She, along with her parents, filled a missing void by opening this bookstore in a most charming, cottage-type house that is almost 100 years old. It has a great corner location that is on the edge of the historical district and the downtown district. This has allowed many local customers to simply walk to the store. And they are already discovering in their short business life that they have regulars, a hallmark for successful indies. They're also starting to see some traffic from the university community (
roll read tide!) and it helps that many professors from the English department have done author signings here. I think this will really enable the store to show growth with that community.
Avery was absolutely wonderful to meet and visit with about the store and its initial challenges. Like all new stores, they are learning what books to offer for their customer base. They offer a few sidelines including greeting cards, pens, t-shirts, book totes, and journals to name a few. But the options of what to offer will continue to be a learning process. The store is a multi-room, one-level space, very attractively arranged and decorated. They offer all new books for now but used books could be an option in the future.
Avery and this bookstore have a very inviting energy. As I told her, people will love this place when they visit and see it. But since it's new, the word is still getting out. I'm here to tell you, run, don't walk, to this sparkling new baby indie. You'll love the store and the people who work there. Roll Tide, Roll Tuscaloosa, and Roll Indies! Keep those dollars local. Go to an indie and buy a book. Bonsoir.
JUST FINISHED: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood. Didn't. Everyone loves this book so I would encourage you to check it out. Except me. Just couldn't get into it at all.
CURRENTLY READING: A Wrestling Life, Dan Gable with Scott Schulte.
RECENTLY PURCHASED: The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead. Sleepy Book, Charlotte Zolotow, ill. Vladimir Bobri. An E&H t-shirt.
|Another exterior view.|
|Looking to the right from the front entrance.|
|A few of the greeting cards and other sidelines available.|
|A great table display of favorites just inside the front entrance.|
|Works by local authors.|
|Bookshelf of works by southern authors.|
|A perfectly comfortable place to sit and browse a book.|
|Looking for historical fiction? They have it!|
|Check out the walls for work by local artists for sale here.|
|A display of book club selections.|
|Totes and t-shirts. I'd probably get a t-shirt at every indie I visit if they all had them.|
|A customer suggestion board. I love seeing these.|
|Since you're browsing books, you might as well grab a coffee.|
|Find children's books in this room, located to the rear left of the store.|
|This room is in the rear right of the store. Lots of great places to sit and sample books.|
|Display of staff picks.|
|This drawer was built into the wall of this house and in one of the back rooms. Avery speculates that the head of the bed would've been backed against this wall and this could've been where the alcohol was hidden during prohibition.|
|I feel this is an appropriate poster in any independent bookstore!|
|With Avery on the left, one of the fine co-owners at Ernest & Hadley Booksellers. Thanks for a great visit.|