Tag Archives: shop-sitting

Barn Raising, Bookshop Sitting, Oddball Friends, and All!

Jack’s weekly guest blog has a familiar musical refrain…..

i_get_by_with_a_little_help_from_my_friendsFriends and Neighbors –

We come from a region of the mountains known for its community spirit; think barn raising. And we have occasion to know that barn raisings are not dead, just mutated into other ways of helping each other. Our friend Witold, three blocks away, called Jack when he wanted to take down a tree. Elizabeth brought the baby goats over to be goatsitted for a weekend (and regular blog readers will remember the fun that produced).

Back when we started the bookstore we relied on our local oddball friends and champions to ‘mind the store’ on the odd times we had to be away. But that was usually only for a day or maybe two at any time.

That was also before ‘the Little Bookstore’ was published and turned our lives upside down. Almost immediately we had to find someone to look after the place for a month, and so the great ‘bookstore-sitter’ project began. To our great surprise it went viral – all over the internet as well as National newspapers, magazines and NPR. The wonderful Andrew Whalen was chosen out of nearly 200 applicants and was feted and fed by the aforementioned oddball friends and champions.

Since then we have continued to have occasions of being away for extended period, and continued numbers of equally wonderful and interesting folk staying in our guest room. They fall in love with our animals, our oddball friends and our town of Big Stone Gap. We look forward to Lisa Heins Vincent and her husband minding shop for a week in late April, and dissertation-writing Emily visiting this summer.

The trouble is that, amidst publicity and hoopla and longer visits from our much -appreciated longer shopsitters, the oddball friends and champions who live in town and give us a day here, a day there, tend to get overshadowed in their contribution to how this place runs.

Just yesterday our friend James spent a day looking after the bookstore, fielding phone calls, cash sales, credit card sales, book swaps for credit, inquiries about the cafe menu, etc., etc. In return he got lunch and the right to take any books he wanted off the shelf and go home with them. As I said to him “James – you know there’s no such thing as a – – – -”

So my day-late guest blog post this week (I couldn’t ask James to do that too) finishes with a belated toast: Please raise a glass to all our crazy, oddball, dedicated local friends and champions who have done even just one day’s duty in the bookstore – cheers, saludos, slainte etc. THANK YOU! When we talk about community spirit, we mean you.

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

Criminals with Cold Noses

Jack and Wendy will spend today driving and look forward to blogging about their latest bookshop stop tomorrow. Meanwhile, Shopsitter Andrew Whalen bravely staffs the bookstore back in Big Stone Gap despite several obstacles – most of them fuzzy….

I’m not sure that dogs love pizza. But I can say for certain that any box that shows up at the door and smells like food is cause for great excitement in the bookstore. After eating as much as I could stomach I thought to bestow my generosity upon the crazed beasts. A few bits of crust and they seemed content.

The reality was a bit different. Like royalty hurling bread-crumbs to peasants with one hand while biting into a turkey leg clutched in the other, my generosity was a stingy and unpleasant thing to witness. The cats weren’t too interested in pizza, but cats are always interested in passing judgment. And under the disapproving eyes of Beulah, I felt a little bad.

Still, a king has his divine right. And I had my slices. My sweet, sweet breakfast slices. Too bad I also have deep-seated beliefs about the proper treatment of old pizza. You see, I don’t think pizza should ever be treated like left-overs. It’s not legitimate food to be dutifully filed away in tupperware. It should be left out to congeal and get a little gross. Pepperoni is best curled up and dry at the edges. Grease tastes better in slimy pools. Cheese should be allowed to form flavor-rubber. If you’re not risking minor food poisoning when eating your cold pizza, then where’s the fun? So I left my pizza out on the countertop.

The next morning I awoke to a scene of horror. Cardboard was strewn everywhere. Nothing remained and I know there can be no justice. The guilty parties will trot about, unpunished. Even the coupon sheet was missing, no doubt so the dogs can take advantage of MY deals. I can see them now, as I write these words, relaxing together on a chair, blissful in their feigned innocence.

Criminal Masterminds of the Cold-Nose Gang

So now, even after gorging myself the night before, I feel less than content. But don’t worry. I have a plan:

Pizza King is the best pizza ever. It’s doughy hand-tossed style crust and fresh toppings make for a slice good enough to be called an experience. See Pizza King? Endorsements are the future. I’ve got this blog platform primed and ready for Pizza King tie-ins. I can see it now:

“If Heathcliff had tried Pizza King’s new boneless chicken bites Wuthering Heights would have been a whole lot happier!” 

“Sure Mark Twain’s great, but why read The Prince and the Pauper when you can order from the king of the pizza until midnight (or 1 am on weekends)?” 

“With Pizza King’s house-made sauce you’ll be seeing 50 Shades of Flavor!”

Oh, you don’t take blog endorsements in exchange for pizza? Ok then, your loss. Enjoy your fiat currency. We’ll see how far that gets you.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA