Kris and I had a long meeting this morning, most of the contents of which I will spare you, but the thing about it I’ve been chewing on for most of the day is the internal struggle we have with staying true to our literary, progressive, queer, sometimes marginalized, sometimes vilified, sometimes celebrated, sometimes ignored roots while facing forward – leaning into the future.
This struggle rears its head pretty often, as expected in a store that is 43 years old and hopes to live longer. In the decade that I’ve worked here I’ve sometimes felt like I’ve crammed for a quiz, taken it and have somehow fallen short, but most of the time I feel a bone-deep kinship with this store and all of it’s history – both the celebrated parts (Hilary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, opening Downtown and creating a nonprofit are just a few) and the parts we wish we could forget (the onslaught of the chains, the crushing pressure of Amazon, the lean, hard months when payroll is an accomplishment).
This makeover, this gift from our new friends at Paz & Associates, is thrilling. They really get us and our mission and want to celebrate the best of who we are. To be the best of who we are requires looking at the mistakes we’ve made head-on, square in the eye and correcting them. It also requires dreaming of new ways of doing things.
After our meeting this morning, I bought a light fixture.
Ok, there’s not a whole lot of light coming from it now, but just wait. The main feature is that it will bring in some of the historical wrought iron detail from the outside of the building into the store, which I think is pretty cool.
I might have jumped the gun a bit because when I excitedly emailed everyone and told them I had done it the words “plan isn’t quite finished yet” were uttered, so maybe I should slow down.
Anyway, I got to ye olde Central West End, carried in my fixture to several oohs and ahhs of the booksellers on duty and made a trip down the street to Fellenz’s, where I took many measurements of various railings, fixtures and other architectural features. More on that later – ahem – after we have a plan.
After getting some feedback on my last post, we brought up the need for more seating, which will undoubtedly be part of the grand scheme.
We’re also thinking through how best to do author events in a newly configured space, and how to make the front entrance less overwhelming and cluttered.
You can rest assured, though, the bones and spirit and history of the store will stay intact. It’s our job to act as the keepers of that spirit and tradition and use it as our compass to guide us into the next 43 years on the corner of Euclid and McPherson.