The bookstore I (used to) work at is closing in two weeks, which is making me very sad. We've gone through a lot together, my co-peeps and I, and I'm going to miss them a lot. Not that I already don't, but now it's sort of permanent. I've worked there off and on for the last six years, but I quit "for good" last year after the suicide of a co-worker I was close to. I was planning on coming back but I needed to tell myself it was permanent so that I could deal with things I was feeling on my own without having to worry about going back there every week.
But now that it's closing, I definitely won't be working there anymore. Which is too bad because I've been going to that bookstore for what seems like forever. My customer history goes back to 2000, but I was shopping there as a kid. My first memory of the store is when I went in with my mom and I went to the fantasy section and picked up a copy of a Xanth novel by Piers Anthony. This was a period of time where my mother wanted to make sure I wasn't reading anything dirty (or so I assume) because I wanted the book but she read the first few pages, realized there was an attempted rape scene, and wouldn't let me buy it. I bought it on my own several years later when this was no longer an issue. Which is kind of good, because I never would have gotten all the puns at that age (I think I was like 10). I still don't think I get all the puns in his book. That man is insane.
I remember the day in 2005 when I was on break from Fashion Bug and went down to the bookstore to get a soda and peek around at the books. There was a sign out front saying they needed an assistant manager, and I was desperate to get out of FB, so I went in and applied. Kim was the manager at the time, she'd been the manager as long as I remembered, and she interviewed me pretty soon after that. During my interview she pretty much said, "Well, you're pretty much hired, so when can you start?" Yeah, it was awesome. And it was so nice to get out of FB, although I still think about those girls a lot.
It was strange to be an assistant manager at 21, when most of the rest of the staff was older than me. I got along pretty well once I settled in, but I think once I found a better job and went down to just sales associate I fit in better with the other staff. I made some really great friends that I love to death. Most of us have been there for five or more years, so it's hard to be suddenly parted from all of that (even if I hadn't worked there in recent months).
Today I had a migraine and wasn't feeling all that hot otherwise. After I napped on the couch and lounged about watching Say Yes To The Dress episodes all day, I decided I needed to get out and visit the bookstore before it closes in 14 days. The store is half empty from the sale/return of the stock, and it made me very sad to see it like that. Half of the shelves have been taken down and much of the stock has been condensed. It is really a hard thing to go into a place that was once so full of customers and see two other customers in there besides yourself, and realize that nobody wants to buy books from us anymore, and those who do just can't keep us afloat. There's nothing happy about "moving on," about a business you have grown to love so much shutting its doors and forcing you to go to a big chain that doesn't know you from Adam. We know so many of our regulars by sight, if not by name, and can tell you what they're going to get if they come in for magazines, or what books to recommend to them when they run out of their own choices. You just don't get that at Borders or Barnes & Noble. And you certainly don't get that from Amazon.com. Nothing can truly replace the presence of an independent bookstore, and nothing can fill the void that the closing leaves.
The district manager asked me if I wanted to help do book returns after they close in a couple of weeks, and I jumped at the chance to come in and work in the store one last time. She said that one of the guys is coming who knows how to do everything with the computer system, so I'm going to see if he can print my customer history. I really want a print-out or at least a copy of all the books I've bought there since I started my own account in 2000. It will be a sort of tribute to the bookstore I've lost and hope at finding another one (or opening my own, if the market starts to favor that).
In the meantime, if you're local, please go to Friar Tuck Bookshop in Delaware Plaza in Delmar and pay your respects to an icon that has been supporting this community for more than 20 years. I'll certainly miss it, will you?