Local booksellers combine love of stories, love of community
Kentuckians love a good story. Oral and written storytelling is ingrained in their character.
“It’s part of the culture in the commonwealth,” says Wayne Goolsby, co-owner of Books on Main in Hopkinsville.
Lizz Taylor, owner of Poor Richard’s Bookstore in Frankfort, agrees. “Kentucky is a germination ground for great writers,” she says.
This passion for stories has inspired several book lovers across the state to open their own bookstores, giving Kentuckians a place to learn new stories to tell for generations
Taylor always loved stories, but when her family was uprooted during her childhood, that love deepened.
“Everything was new—a new school, new friends, a new home,” she says. “But I had my old friends in books.”
Now, customers of Poor Richard’s Bookstore can hunt for their own friends among the shelves that swell with stories of adventure, academics, science fiction, romance, travel, and more. They can even scale ladders to reach that perfect book.
In 1975, Taylor started working at The Bookstore in Frankfort, and three years later, she purchased it and renamed it, inspired by one of Benjamin Franklin’s most recognizable publications, Poor Richard’s Almanack.
When Poor Richard’s Bookstore’s current location became available in 1982, Taylor jumped at the opportunity to move downtown. Her bookstore offers people a glimpse into the past, while remaining relevant.
“The most important thing we do is offer a place to exchange ideas,” Taylor says. “It’s about ideas and connecting people to those ideas.”
Located in Hodgenville, Lincolns Loft Bookstore, is nestled between a barber shop and a burger joint. Owner David Harrison, a Nolin RECC member, knows his neighbors and the people who walk into his store.
Harrison and his wife, Becky, have owned Lincolns Loft for nine years. An avid reader, Becky’s lifelong dream was to own her own bookstore, but a love for community also played a part.
“There wasn’t a bookstore available and convenient for the people,” Harrison says. “We are the only local bookstore for miles.”
Lincolns Loft sells new and used books in a variety of genres and has a designated shelf for Kentucky authors. Harrison says it is important to carry diverse books to cater to their customers’ assorted needs.
Customer service is paramount to the Harrisons. They focus on building strong relationships through hosting book clubs, delivering books to customers, and partnering with local churches and schools. Harrison says customers come into the store looking for a book and end up staying to talk for an hour.
“We’ve never had an unhappy customer,” Harrison says. “Well, if we have, I never heard from them.”
“There’s always magic in a book I haven’t read yet, so much potential in it,” says Susan Thomas, one of the owners of CoffeeTree Books in Morehead.
When she and her husband, Grant Alden, decided to move back to Morehead from Nashville, Tennessee, she knew there was potential in owning a bookstore. In 2005, Susan and Grant made CoffeeTree Books, which also houses Fuzzy Duck coffee shop, an iconic Morehead destination.
Five years later, a flood hit Morehead, and a new chapter was written for CoffeeTree Books. The water damage was so bad, the bookstore relocated to the old cinema on Main Street.
CoffeeTree Books offers many genres of only new books.
“I choose books that reflect my customers and their interests and ideas,” Thomas says.
With three levels, the bookstore is in the main section, the coffee shop in the front, and the cinema stage is used for parties, community events, music lessons, and open mics.
“We always wanted it to be a community center,” Thomas says. “We wanted it to be a place where you can meet with friends and not feel like a retail space.”
Formerly on Main Street and now on the corner of 9th and Virginia, Books on Main is in the heart of downtown Hopkinsville. Furnished with wicker chairs and shelves of books, the 12-year-old bookstore emanates warmth and community.
“It’s a cozy place,” says co-owner Wayne Goolsby.
He and his wife, Pam, both retired librarians, have always been passionate about stories and longed for a local bookstore in Hopkinsville.
Books on Main provides a large range of mostly new books, including best-sellers, those written by local authors, and children’s books. They keep their regulars in mind when placing orders for the store.
“We want to offer more personal services. When a book comes out that will be perfect for one of our customers, we’ll go ahead and get it,” Goolsby says.
One of Hopkinsville’s best treasures, Books on Main boasts a friendly atmosphere where customers can hear local gossip, talk politics, join clubs, and meet local authors.
“The written word is so incredibly important to a community,” says Goolsby. “Local bookstores anchor a community.”
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