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Why We Bought a Bookstore, by Crystal Wilkinson

This guest essay by author Crystal Wilkinson appears on page 4 of the Aug 25 print edition of Ace. Photo by Kakie Urch.

Brick. Mortar. Ink. Paper:
Why We Bought a Book Store
by Crystal Wilkinson

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.
~Harper Lee

I have owned a house in the Meadowthorpe Neighborhood in Lexington for more than 17 years. My son turned 13 when we moved into our house. The twins were five. One of the mainstays of the neighborhood was Morgan Adams Books, an eclectic used bookstore less than five minutes from my house. I bought books there for my children, for myself. I thought I had died and gone to heaven to trade a pile of books in for another pile. I was a single parent and sold books there when bills were tight. When I was writing my early books, I went to the bookstore to find inspiration, often leaving a pot on the stove or the kids playing in the yard, since it was right around the corner, to rush down for that book that would lead me to gently into the next phase of writing my own.

Years later, when Ron and I became a couple, he decided to work part time at Morgan Adams so that  he could supplement his artist’s income. How perfect! It was right in the neighborhood. Truth be told, we bought more books than his salary provided over two years and he knew the perfect way to charm me more (if that is possible; he’s a very charming man) was to bring me a book he knew I’d adore.

So when he came home and said, “Well I won’t have a job at the end of the month,” we began to at first play with the idea, and then to be more serious about it until we simply bit the bullet, bought the inventory and got the ball rolling.

Since we opened The Wild Fig Books on June 20, so many people have thanked us for opening, for keeping a bookstore at this location. “You’re so brave to open…in this day and time, ” they say.

Of course we’ve all heard to the stories about the large book chains closing and I have mourned the closing of every single independent across the country, many of which I visited last time I was on a book tour. But brave? I’ve never thought of myself in those exact terms. Unrestrained, maybe? Careless? No. Mostly it’s simply that I don’t believe the hype. A day and a time when ink and paper books don’t exist. Pshaw!

We thought it would work because:

1) The previous owners (Mary Morgan and David Adams) spent more than 20 years building the foundation of a bookstore at this location, so obviously it had worked on some level. This neighborhood needs a bookstore. Lexington needs a quality bookstore on this side of town.

2) We have great business neighbors in Goodwill, Steepleton’s, Pop’s Resale, The Dollar Store and The Meadowthorpe Cafe.

3) We thought we could make it affordable. Of course this part is a little scary but in addition to gushing over the books, we are trying to be business savvy.  But frankly we probably gush more (Especially me).

4) Most importantly, everyone I know, whether they have a Kindle or not, still buys ink and paper books. Ron and I still buy ink and paper books. I still write ink and paper books. Ron was recently commissioned to design a real ink and paper book cover for a poet-friend. We want our children and grandchildren to continue to read  ink and paper books. As book lovers and writers and being an artistic couple, of course we jumped at the chance to be brick and mortar bookstore owners.

We hope that you will pass the word along to those you know. We plan on a variety of readings and musical guests in the future and have an art performance/installment in the works.

The Wild Fig is currently open and located in the Meadowthorpe Shopping Center between Goodwill and Steepleton’s near Pops Resale. The Grand Opening is Sunday, September 18.  


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