The more Empty it Got, the Smaller it Became

As most of you know, we closed our beloved bookstore for good in early July of this year. The last few days were a frantic “All books 50 cents, all proceeds to Appalachian Feline Friends” clean-out, and we had fun.

About 500 people came through, and almost every single one of them said some form of, “We really enjoyed having you here. You really added something nice to our lives.” Which is legacy enough for anybody. We feel full and loved and excited for our next adventure (which, yes, could possibly include a bookstore, but not this year).

empty bookstore 2Something weird started happening, though, as we emptied the shop slowly, removing things room by room and centering them up front. People bought books and shelves and said nice things and took free stuff we had lying around for the taking, and the walls began to appear. The more they appeared, the smaller the (former) bookstore got.

When we lived in the shop, there was room enough for us and two dogs and about 12 cats at one point (but don’t tell Jack because he doesn’t think there were ever more than 10) and 30,000 books. Plus all the detritus that a musician and a yarn-loving writer (yes, both senses of the word) would collect. Let’s not talk about my addiction to thrift store kitsch.

When we stripped the shop back to its bare walls, it began to look, well, tinyempty bookstore 1. Space that had held the ideas that launched a million ships, some for good, some for evil, shrank to the size of a human living room. The more we worked, the lesser the bookstore looked.

Friends who came to help commented, unprompted. I’d see them sit back on their heels over a box, or pause hefting a shelf to the porch, and stare at the walls (which now showed all the places we had drawn artwork around paint chips and cracks) and say, “Hunh. It’s getting, like, less instead of more.”

And it was. To us. To the nice couple with their daughter who bought the place, I am sure it will fill with their own happy home memories and fun, and be just the right amount of space. For Jack and me, we’re off to claim our new territory, when the time is right. God guides, and she has a great sense of humor sometimes. We are enjoying our year of resting undangerously in Wytheville (where friends tell us our house looks like a miniature version of the old bookshop) and then we’ll see what new walls unfold their spaces.

7 Comments

Filed under between books, bookstore management, crafting, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Uncategorized

7 responses to “The more Empty it Got, the Smaller it Became

  1. I so enjoyed your little book store, which made a mark in many lives as well as a complete town! Best wishes for all your future endeavors, whatever forms they take! Barb Rogers of Black Mountain NC

  2. The end of one chapter and the beginning of many more. What a crazy beautiful journey you two have been on. Thanks for allowing us all to tag along! Blessings on the next pages of your story!!

  3. Elizabeth Collins

    Jack and Wendy,
    I know this had to be hard, but we’re excited to see what the next chapter of your life holds. Best wishes!
    David and Elizabeth

  4. Audrey Metz

    We were in your delightful, mind-filling bookstore soon after we were married – both in our 70’s. It was a special place (as are all independently-owned bookstores) for us and our newly-minted-married-minds. We’re sorry it will change. But we wish the best to the new owners, whatever they will make of it. Ken Seitz and Audrey Metz

  5. Enjoy your rest. So sorry we never made it to the bookstore–it’s an awfully long trip for us, but I await hearing about your new adventures. Life’s full of ’em. Ride the wave!

  6. There are more stories to be lived and told! Best Wishes for many fun adventures! Charlotte

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