What wakes me up early on Monday mornings and gets me out of bed, dressed and into my car all in fifteen minutes, is the simple thought of unlocking the back door at the bookstore while it’s still dark outside, going in and turning on the lights, the classical radio station, doing a quick, wee jig, and then setting to work taking everything off every baker’s rack and table top, scrubbing down the shelves ’till they are shiny-clean, then setting out all the new antiquarian books, the new antiques, the new gifts, arranging them all into wonderful little scenes before Aida and BJ, followed later by Jane, come in and scream with pleasure. “Oh-my-goodness-everything-looks-so- magnificent!”
We open at 9:30 am six days a week (10am on Sundays,) so on Mondays, seconds before that momentous occasion, Jane quickly boxes up any stray things left on the floor that won’t fit on the shelves and Aida, Jane and BJ dash them out to the stock room while I do a finishing sweep. Then, with great excitement bubbling up in all of us, we fling open the front double doors and, beaming, in unison, say to one another, “It’s Show Time!”
You have to know this: it is out of pure and unadulterated love that we are here every Monday morning and every other day of the week. We are as proud as we could be of our splendid, little place tucked in carefully behind the superb and bustling Aroma Café. We are also as thankful as we could be for our amazing customers, who keep us open year after year—24 of them, in fact.
Oh yes, owning, running and working at Portrait of a Bookstore is indeed everything anyone ever walking through it dreams it is. But it is not just the sheer joy of being surrounded every day by shelves and shelves of ever-changing books– it is more than that. It is also about the camaraderie between us, the staff, and the friendships that we’ve built between ourselves and our customers. Some customers are famous, some are infamous, some are crazy as loons and some are eccentric. We have house husbands, house wives, nannies and mannies, heads of film studios, doctors, lawyers, actors, agents and artists and people with only a few dollars to spend because, for the moment, they are down and out. People meet and fall in love in our store. People get married and have babies, and bring those babies to our store and the babies learn to talk and walk and read in our store. People write in our store; they write poetry, plays and screenplays. Even a hit Broadway musical was written at Portrait of a Bookstore. People even write about us. A very popular television series, written by one of our favorite
customers, takes place in a bookstore just like ours. But most of our customers are really everyday people looking for a good book or an interesting gift and they come to us because they know we will help them find what they need or die trying (well, die a little emotional death, that is.)
Posted by Julie