Earlier this year one of my publishers tried to set up an author event for me at an independent bookstore in Mount Dora, Florida, just about the most charming city in the entire state. Dickens-Reed was almost as charming as the city, at least until they moved to a new location. The new site was larger and a bit less homey, but still, it was Dickens-Reed, one of the absolute, must-visit stores in a town replete with must-visit stores. It stocked an eclectic blend of new and used books, and unlike so many chain stores, it looked beyond the bestsellers to find a wonderful mix of titles.
When my publisher told me there had been no reply from the store, I was surprised. The owners had always been responsive to requests, even if the response was no.
On a recent visit to Mount Dora, I found out why: the store had closed. I stared at the locked door for so long that my daughter had to come over to me and assure me that the store really was closed and it was time to move on. Surely, I thought, they've just relocated again. They've got to be here somewhere. They can't be gone completely. I had to know, so I asked the owner of a shop across the street where the new location was. He told me that Dickens-Reed had closed for good some months earlier. For good? There was nothing good about this.
I'm still smarting from the news. On one level I realize how crazy that is. It's as if I'm taking a store closing personally. On another level, I'm ready to hunt down and shake some sense into every person who contributed to the store's demise by treating it as if it was just another store. It wasn't. It was Dickens-Reed, for crying out loud.
I do take it personally. And I imagine I'll continue to take it personally whenever a favorite independent store of any kind closes, forcing me to settle for yet another chain store.
I mean, after all -- it was Dickens-Reed, for crying out loud.