Category Archives: Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

Words of Wisdom – –

Jack apologizes for missing last Wednesday completely but makes up for it by being on time today –

Used-book stores are great. Wendy and I have always managed to find one wherever we went in the early years of our marriage. So it wasn’t surprising that we wound up opening one when we moved to the town of Big Stone Gap in the very southwest tip of Virginia, some fourteen years ago. We quickly made it a ‘hanging out place’ where disparate (and sometimes desperate) folks found a haven. If you haven’t already, you can read all about it in ‘The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap’.

All things have their seasons, and for various reasons we moved to Wytheville, moving into our new home in early January 2019, in an 1890s sort of farmhouse meets French chateau. We’re still in the southwest edge of Virginia, but just closer to the interstate (that’s motorway for Scottish readers).

To our great delight we found that a used bookshop known as Oracle Books had opened a few months earlier on the main street. We quickly made friends with the owner, Randy, and the place turned out to be just like all the best bookstores we’d ever visited!

Up until the pandemic lockdown kicked in we were able to work with Randy to help introduce mini concerts of Scottish music some evenings, within his wider musical offerings. But, more importantly, we made many more friends and Oracle Books turned out to be the same kind of community center as all the best bookstores we ever experienced.

And then, as if things couldn’t get any better, Randy started a record section…..

 He set up an area for LPs – yes vinyl! Here we are in very rural southern Appalachia and whenever something he thinks might interest me shows up he messages me. In among the bluegrass and country albums the most amazing and rare traditional Scottish albums also turn up. Since I present a weekly Celtic music radio show on a couple of local NPR stations as well as one in Scotland that’s a real bonus!

So here’s to used-book stores where e’er they may be – – – and here’s to Randy at Oracle!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Time is of the Essence – –

Jack uses a time management tool to get his post up on time –

When I was first promoted (to everyone’s surprise, including my own) to head of the construction department at Lauder College in Scotland, I was immediately overwhelmed by the tasks I was faced with. But eventually two things saved me.

The first was learning how to delegate, which more or less happened by accident. What I learned was that, given half a chance, people will take on tasks if it’s something they enjoy and if they feel competent to do them well. As long as I remembered I was still responsible it worked.

The second is really what this post is about –

A member of the senior management introduced me to a time management tool that has stuck with me ever since. I later discovered it’s called ‘The Eisenhower Matrix’ and many variations have evolved over the years. The closest to the one I used is pictured above.

I used this tool so much that eventually I didn’t have to put it on a white board on my office wall – it just sat in my head.

After I retired I continued to work as a self-employed training consultant, so the matrix continued to be my fundamental template for organizing my work. Even when we moved to Big Stone Gap I was running a bookstore, organizing a Celtic festival, an annual group tour of Scotland and still gigging – so time management was still important.

You might think that after closing the bookstore, the Celtic festival and moving to Wytheville that I wouldn’t need a time management aid, but I still find it hovering – even with everyday domestic tasks.

The only thing is that I’ve no one to delegate to anymore, although when it comes to looking after our vegetable gardens Wendy tells me I’m management and she’s labor.

Finally – I am and always have been a serial procrastinator. So given the choice between vacuuming the floors or checking FaceBook  – – –

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch