Every year I look forward to the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston because it has one of the largest used book sales around, and one of my absolute favorite things in the world is a used book. I like the idea that someone else enjoyed the book in my hand. I like the idea that a certain book somehow made it to me, right when I was looking for it. I buy a lot of new and digital books, but used books really speak to me.
In fact, if there was something I wish we had in Jackson County, it’s a used bookstore. I get by on the Jackson County Public Library used book sales (haven’t been to one? Oh, you need to go! Follow them on Facebook to get notified when the next one is!), and I love that we as a county still have a library that isn’t just about books, but is big on programming and community outreach (more on my love of the library in a later column).
But somedays, I just want our own version of the Trans Allegheny bookstore, that Parkersburg institution, right in downtown Ripley. I’m retail savvy enough to know that man cannot make a profit on used books alone, so in my dreams, I see a large building with a corner for used and new books, another corner for local products (like jams from The Leavitt Farm, pecans and dips from Sassy Gals, wood-working from Beards & Boards, etc.) another corner with hip, West Virginia-themed clothing and gifts (like the locally-designed shirts from Swiftees, and import items from former Ripley gal Cindy Parsons Dunn.)
It’ll need something inside you can eat and drink (I’ll let the coffee drinkers in town decide that; if left up to me, it’d be hot chocolate and Pepsi only), and maybe a meeting room for our clubs and charities to use. A rotating holiday décor display would be great as well, and then a section for fun pet stuff, because we do love our pets here.
I picture a cozy nook where kids can gather to do homework and projects in the evenings (this place has great WiFi!), and where parents can browse while their munchkins look over a selection of toys, and get rewarded with a baked good of some sort. It’s light and spacious, and it’s the kind of place that helps bring in shoppers all around, who in turn, spend their day (and their money) in Ripley and Ravenswood.
We’re already getting some of that traffic thanks to primitives hotspots Just for You Primitives and The Frugal Frog; this would just be one more reason to take the right turn off I-77 and come downtown.
And it might happen. We have dreamers and risk-takers in this county, so my secret wish of a “Ripley Mercantile” could happen, and hopefully done well by someone who knows more about retail, merchandising, and marketing than someone whose experience with is limited mostly to just being a buyer of said products.
But until it happens, I’ll content myself with yearly book buys at the West Virginia Book Festival, and the Jackson County Public Library, all while secretly hoping for a little corner of books available every day for me to browse and wonder over.