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Archive for June 12th, 2009

So you all know that I’m in Bend visiting the girls, helping Konnie with the wedding planning. How would you like to take a peek at the dress? I mean if you promise not to tell anyone? Especially not Jon? Konnie’s pretty old-fashioned. She doesn’t want him to see her in the dress until she’s walking with her daddy. But if you pinky-swear not to tell anyone I’ll let you take a peek…

 

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I told you it was just a peek. This is Shelby upside down inside the dress.

You’ll have to wait till September to see the real thing.

But I did happen upon the most wonderful bookstore today and I took photos of it just for you. Shelby had told me about it and suggested I go by. I went over this morning and met Hayley, the owner of BETWEEN THE COVERS.

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This is the photo that owner Hayley Wright keeps on the counter. It’s a picture of her when she was growing up in the very same Bend neighborhood where her bookstore is now located at on the corner of Delaware and Bond Street. Just up the road from my favorite coffee shop Strictly Organic.

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Hayley opened the bookstore a little over a year ago. Shortly after I left for Alabama. She knew nothing about owning a bookstore.

“I didn’t even know what a POS meant,” Hayley said.

That’s Point of Sale for all the others out there who don’t make their living in retail.

Hayley has long been a reader. She loves books of all variety. Always has. But she was busy living the good life in Bend. Her husband is a plumber by trade and during the boom years in Bend he was making more than enough money.  Hayley said she couldn’t have imagined needing any more money that what they had at the time. They invested in property and other things. They built a big home. She’d been at home, raising her daughter. But figured, well, maybe she’d go back to school, get her Masters in Social Work.

“You sure that’ll make you happy?” her husband asked.

“I don’t know,” she told him.

“Well if you could do anything what would it be?” he asked.

“I’d buy the old grocers and open a bookstore,” Hayley said.

And that’s how it came to pass that during one of the nation’s worse economic markets Hayley Wright opened a bookstore.

Hayley is quick to point out that the bookstore actually opened just a few months before the bottom dropped out. When she and her husband were flush with cash.

Now they live upstairs.

Above the books.

Last Saturday they woke to see the balloons rising over Bend out the window at the back of the house. The one that overlooks the courtyard where Hayley sometimes hosts author events.

The store is spacious.

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It has these cozy corners for reading or visiting.  

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And Hayley keeps a shelf of candy because when she was a little girl growing up in this neighborhood she loved making afternoon trips to the candy store. Most book lovers would probably cringe at the thought of a sucker in a bookstore but Hayley’s store is kid-friendly. She told her daughter, 11, that one day she’s going to write the sentence: “When I was growing up above the bookstore…”

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The Wrights moved into their bookstore because they own it and they can rent out the big house where they used to live for income. Owning any business  in this economy is tough. It’s especially so for locally-owned bookstores. People just don’t read like they used to. What with video games to play. I was visiting a manager of another bookstore recently — one of those chain stores — and I swear to the barefooted Bigfoot if he didn’t say these exact words to me — “I don’t read much.” That’s like having a doctor say, “I don’t treat sick people much.” 

Okay. So reading is down. Book buying is down. The economy is down. Building is down. Plumbers who were once flush with cash are now seeing their futures in the toliet.

It’s tough out there.

That’s why I admire people like Hayley even more.

I read a quote the other day. It said, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'”

That’s the kind of courage that a bookstore owner or any other small business owner needs in this economy. Just the courage to say, okay, I’ll keep putting one foot in front of another.

Like me, Hayley grew up in a trailer. She said they lived in a single-wide for a split-second before moving on to the Doublewide. I told her how when I was growing up in the single-wide I thought anybody with a Doublewide was rich. We laughed.

Wealth is measured more by perception more than dollars and cents.

We are all more blessed than we realize.

We are all more wealthy than we understand.

Hayley says these lean times are making her appreciate life so much more.

We think we want life on Easy Street but in truth when we have it, it bores us to death.

Life is meant to be a ride.

We need to learn to enjoy the adventure as we go.

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 So the next time you are in Bend, stop by Between the Covers. Say hello to Hayley and the crew. And no matter what neighborhood your live in, buy local. Support your Independent Bookstores. And be sure to run your hands over the bookshelves. They were made by the very same folks who made the ones in that old Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks flick “You’ve Got Mail.”

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And be sure to ask Hayley and her crew for their recommendations.  As Hayley says, “Book lovers never have to go to bed alone.”

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