April 27, 2017
A Q&A with Dave Lucey, co-owner of North Carolina’s Page 158 Books, on moving a bookstore
by Peter Clark
Dave and Sue Lucey are members of that dedicated and time-honored lineage known as bookstore owners. Their current shop, Page 158 Books, is in downtown Wake Forest, North Carolina, beside a three-way intersection lined on each side with two-story red brick buildings. But due to an unforeseen rent increase, Dave and Sue have seized on the opportunity to buy and move into a new space.
The past month has been a whirlwind for them. Aside from navigating the closure of the current location, finding and finalizing the purchase of the new one, and planning its design and layout, they’re also about to open a temporary store to keep the amazing-bookstore-lifeblood pumping in Wake Forest during the interim between permanent locations.
Dave was kind enough to answer some questions about the process:
For starters, can you tell us a little bit about your current location? And how did you come to be in need of a new one?
Our current location is right in the heart of downtown Wake Forest next to a coffee shop and a brewery. We took over the lease from a books and art store that was there before us. It’s been a great location for us, but when our lease expired and the rent shot up, we decided we should look for a new home. We worked out a ninety-day extension, and the search began!
A temporary bookstore sounds like a pop-up shop of sorts. How are you imagining the temporary store operating?
We had a banner made that says, “Page 158 Books Pop-Up Shop,” so that was our thought, too. Our backup plan was a tent in the parking lot, which could have been very interesting in the hot North Carolina summer months. Fortunately, we were able to secure a building with a bathroom and air conditioning and a bit more square footage. We will likely have fewer events in May, just so we can get settled, but we want to take full advantage of the space — and it will likely be business as usual very quickly.
What has gone into—and is maybe still going into—finding a new location for Page 158? Do you look at other businesses nearby, for instance?
We looked at all of the retail properties available via the real estate websites, but ultimately found our new home by chatting with a guy in the locally-owned hardware store. When we looked at the space and location, we decided we’d go all in, buying the space and fixing it up the way we wanted. Of course, that takes time — so the search for a temp space began! Just two weeks ago we found a temporary space in a building that’s for sale nearby. It was one of the sites we had looked at in the beginning, but it was out of our price range.
Moving a bookstore sounds almost as crazy as opening a bookstore from scratch. What sorts of book-unique logistics do you have to consider?
What are you trying to say? 😉 Have you ever had a friend ask you to help them move? You never forget the ones that have lots of books, we are the friends that have ONLY books. A friend offered twenty-four large, stackable totes that are going to help immensely. We also have to coordinate our orders with the multitude of publishers, suppliers, and distributors we work with to make sure they go where we are.
What have your customers been saying about the move? And what have you been telling them about the new store?
The feedback has been very positive. They are most excited about the parking availability and can’t wait to see the new space. The offers for help with the move have been overwhelming. They didn’t even blink when we (jokingly) told them we were going to have a human chain and pass each book from the old store to the new. They understand that buying the space means we are making a commitment to the community and the downtown area, which they all want to see thrive. Sue tells everyone about the custom bookcase we are having built by a local craftsman, and that she’s finally getting the library ladder that she’s always wanted (but she’s still not getting a pool).
What are you most looking forward to about the new location? Were there specific challenges about the old place that you think will be solved in the new one?
Did we mention air conditioning? Parking and having a really good restaurant next door are also exciting. The physical layout of the old space left us with few options for how to lay out the store. For example, you’d have to walk through the middle of an event to get to the children’s room. Now we have a blank slate and can design it based on the real-life experiences we’ve had.
Since Independent Bookstore Day will be your last full day operating at the current location, what do you have specially planned to celebrate?
It’s going to be a great weekend, starting with “Friday Night on White”, which is a giant party the town puts on with live music, beer from White Street Brewing, and 10,000 of our closest friends. Then Saturday is Indie Bookstore Day and we’ll have Peppa Pig visiting, members of the state champion Wake Forest Cougars football team reading for story time, a poetry slam, and we’ve decided to start a new tradition, the Page 158 Local Author Award. The winner will have a special display along with a framed photo in our new space. Between the two days we hope to sell all the books so we can just have brunch on Sunday instead of moving heavy boxes.
Page 158’s temporary location will be at 317 East Roosevelt Avenue in Wake Forest. But you can catch them on Indie Bookstore Day at their original spot, 158 South White Street. Tweet us a selfie of your loot for a chance to win some free books for yourself, and some hot merch for the staff of your local store!
Peter Clark is a former Melville House sales manager.