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When a 13-year-old girl happily goes to an indoor event on a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon and seeks out (solo) a front-row seat in a crowd with an average age quite a few decades her senior, and then sits contentedly through a program featuring about 10 speakers … well, in my opinion, this is a tribute that speaks volumes.
My co-blogger and daughter (LitKid, as she’s called here) dearly loves Quail Ridge Books and Music, our stellar independent bookstore in Raleigh, NC, and she needed no coaxing when I told her that there was a celebration today of the 30th Anniversary of the store and a big tribute to its founder, Nancy Olson.
Nancy and her husband, Jim, and their dedicated, wonderful staff made Quail Ridge a place that readers and writers of all ages (and musicians and music-lovers, too) were drawn back to again and again.
“LitKid” grew up there, sitting with her nose in a book on the carpet in the back of the children’s section (I always had to drag her away); attending raucous kids’ events with many talented writers and illustrators; and tagging along with me for just as many “grownup” author events, often with her homework in tow.
I asked her over dinner tonight why she loved Quail Ridge. “Because it feels cozy and has a family-like feeling to it,” she said. “Everyone who works there always has smiles on their faces.”
The Olsons decided several years ago that it was time to find someone from the next generation to take over the store. There were many nervous patrons hoping against hope that in the era of Amazon, mega-bookstores and e-books, the Olsons would be able to find someone who would honor that “family-like” feeling that my girl and I and many others love about Quail Ridge.
They gave their fans the gift of being painstaking about the search process, and it paid off. As long-time customers, my girl and I can happily report that they did find a buyer who is honoring the values — and the value — of this place that Nancy and the staff worked hard to create over a span of 25-plus years.
The second-generation owner, Lisa Poole, and the staff (all of our favorite, smiling faces have remained) fittingly chose to focus the 30th anniversary on honoring Nancy Olson.
Unfortunately, Nancy was not there to hear the lineup of writers, friends and book world luminaries who were there to pay tribute to her, including Charles Frazier, Clyde Edgerton, Jill McCorkle, Allen Gurganus, Bridgette Lacy, Angela Davis-Gardner, Randall Keenan, Margaret Maron, Clay Stalnaker and Oren Teicher, Executive Director of the American Booksellers’ Association.
She is recovering from unexpected surgery, and we hope the videos of all of those well-written (of course), humorous, touching tributes will speed her recovery along so we can spot her smiling face at a future event at the store – and so my girl can, as always, give her a big hug.