Saturday, May 16, 2015

Park Road Books - Charlotte, NC

Park Road Books - Charlotte, NC
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The journey I'm on, and the blog I've created, are about the many wonderful independent bookstores around the country.  They need to be recognized and acknowledged and I hope in some small way, these articles can bring them some well-deserved attention.  But so many times my visits evolve into much more than the bookstores and they develop into the wonderful people I meet along the way and their special communities.  Without a doubt, Park Road Books is one fantastic independent bookstore.  But the best part of these trips is meeting people like Sally B., the owner, and booksellers like Frank and Trudy.  If Ron Rice ever does a book entitled, "My Bookstore People," these three will be in.  At this indie you're going to find a big dose of southern hospitality and a great selection of books.

Frank told me that there's no business model for a bookstore.  How right he is.  But the business model here at Park Road Books has obviously worked well as they've been going strong since 1977.  They have a great location in a mall that has been around since the 50s.  I especially like the plentiful and free parking with this location.  Sally has been here since the 90s and Frank since the 80s so there is great continuity here and in my opinion that is important for success.

The store is a good-sized, one-level store offering new books, magazines, a great variety of greeting cards, and a nice selection of sidelines.  One of the best sellers are their jigsaw puzzles, of which there is a very good selection.  You'll also find sculpted books here, created by a local author.  Very cool.  Sally told me that the sidelines are a good part of their sales, but it is not critical to the survival of the store.  The customers are largely local, including some traffic from local colleges, including Queens.  They also enjoy some tourist business as well  The store has a very active events schedule and author David Baldacci was to appear the evening of my visit.

So what's their secret?  Without hesitation they told me customer service.  This is a common characteristic I hear from many owners and booksellers.  Sally stated, they rely on word of mouth and do very little advertising.

Whenever I leave these indies and conclude my visit, I'm always a little sad.  I'm so fortunate to get to meet wonderful people like the ones at Park Road Books.  But then I buck up, and know there are more great people at the next indie I visit down the road.  If you don't drop into this indie and meet these people, you're missing out.  Be sure to check out this great bookstore and the people that go with it.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Mattie C.'s Boy: The Shelley Stewart Story, Don Keith as told by Shelley Stewart.  True story about growing up black in Birmingham, AL during the 30s and 40s in poverty, homeless with no adults, no money, and extreme segregation and racism.  And yet through it all, Shelley Stewart grew to become a positive force during the civil rights era and beyond.  Absolutely fantastic biography that needs more national attention.  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Shadow Of The Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

A great front window display.  

Sit here on a nice day and try out a book.  

I just missed getting to see David Baldacci.  

View looking into the store from the front door.  

Looking to the left as I entered the store.  

A portion of the staff picks.  

Since you probably don't have ALL of the Dr. Seuss collection, find the one you're missing here.  

A great place to take a book for a spin.  

Boxed sets of greeting cards.  

A great selection of magazines.  

An attractive fireplace.  Fire optional.  

Pick out some hip readers.  

One of the long book aisles through the store.  

A few of the many jigsaw puzzles, great sellers here.  

See that couch?  My name is all over that!  Book clubs can talk about their next book in this area.  

Any Wimpy Kid fans out there?

A portion of the children's section.  

View from the back of the store looking toward the front.  

You are going to love Yola.  She was on break when I got this picture.  

Uniquely hand-crafted candles.  

This is an actual book that has had the pages "sculpted."  There are several different titles available.
Frank is in the front.  In the back L-R, Trudy, Sally, and yours truly.  Thanks for a great visit.  

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