Ever wanted to run an independent bookstore? Maybe one in picturesque rural Virginia, in October and November? Now’s your chance.
The owners of Tales of the Lonesome Pine used bookstore in Big Stone Gap (pop. 5,400) have put out a call for a bookstore-sitter. They will provide lodging and provisions in exchange for the bookstore-sitter keeping the store’s doors open for two months.
The reason they’re leaving the store behind is the best one possible: Wendy Welch is the author of the forthcoming memoir “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.” This fall, she and her husband and co-owner Jack Beck will be taking off on a book tour.
St. Martin’s is publishing the book. “In a time when brick and mortar bookstores around the country are literally imperiled, ‘The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap’ comes along like a cool compress on a nagging wound,” writes Andre Dubus III in an enthusiastic blurb. “with humor, compassion, and a bold leap of spirit, Wendy Welch leads us back to this nearly forgotten truth, that bookstores are not simply distribution hubs for books, they are the warm living rooms of our culture, the portal to our dream worlds, the anchors for our hungry, drifting souls. Buy this book!”
The Tales of the Lonesome Pine offer points to a not-so-forgotten truth: Independent bookstores are more labor of love than moneymaker. While the bookstore-sitter will get room and board, the position is essentially a volunteer one.
The ideal candidate, Welch tells the industry newsletter Shelf Awareness, might be someone “who is thinking about starting a bookstore ‘someday’ would benefit from two months at no risk” or “someone who doesn’t want to own one but always thought it sounded fun to work there could have the experience for their bucket list.”
They also have to be enthusiastic about pet-sitting: The shop comes with two dogs and two bookstore cats.