For All Good Gifts, We are Thankful

One of the joys of running a small-town bookshop is how often people come in with stuff they just want to give you. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Last week neighbors who winter garden stopped in for the first time ever, told us how much they enjoyed the book, and handed over a large plastic bag filled with… blue-green curly stuff. I admit freely that my idea of cooking is a lot of ingredients thrown into one dish, and no stirring, but our new friends thoughtfully added an index card detailing instructions on how to steam the kale to perfection. It was so delicious, shopsitter Andrew and I fought over the last piece.
  • Awhile back, Jack was feeling poorly and went upstairs to bed just before one of our regulars came in. Frank has two fixations in life: homeopathic medicine, and JFK’s assassination. He often stops by to gather reading material on both. When he discovered his favorite Scottish co-conspiracy theorist was tucked up in bed, he said, “I know just what he needs,” nipped out to his truck, and came back with a bottle of Nature’s Remedy Cayenne Pepper Pills. “Guaranteed to cure what ails you,” he said, thrusting them at me. “One tonight, one in the morning. I’ll check back to see how he’s doing.” (Jack recovered.)
  • A man who buys thrillers and western stopped in, looking sheepish, and handed over a paper bag. Inside, a canning jar was about 1/4 full of clear liquid, two dried apricots swimming in it. “It was full,” he said, “and I intended it for y’all, but my son stopped by and he found it where I had it hid in the cupboard.” Jack unscrewed the lid and lightning and purple snakes flew from the brew. He certainly enjoyed those apricots.
  • It’s a sad fact that we can’t take our yarn stashes with us when we go; many donations of a late loved one’s wooly goods have made their way to the bookshop, where the needlework babes spend a pleasant evening untangling them for the communal stash drawer.
  • One Spring day a child who lives in the neighborhood and likes to hang out in the shop walked in and handed me a shoebox. “I brung you a rabbit,” he said. Nervously, I shifted the lid an inch–to reveal a very tall, very stylish paper-mache rabbit sculpted by his small hands from newspaper. Around the base was painted “Bookstore Ester Bunnie.”
  • A woman who shops with us infrequently opened the door and said, “This was at a yard sale, and I thought of you because I wanted to buy it but I didn’t need it.” In her arms lay a beautiful black 1930s-era typewriter. She supervised its placement on a display table, stepped back, and smiled. “I knew it would fit in here,” she said, and marched out without another word.
  • Another woman walked in and handed me a lava lamp. “I didn’t want to throw it away, thought it would like nice in the children’s room here,” she said, beaming. My husband stared at the offending object. “Looks phallic,” he muttered. (BTW, do you know how hard it is to “accidentally” break a lava lamp? Took four tries.)

It’s good to run a shop in a small town. Mendy, who recently opened a local craft store, said she scored three pies, a potholder loom and a dozen brownies her first week.



Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

4 responses to “For All Good Gifts, We are Thankful

  1. I’m envious of all but the pepper pills.

  2. Far League Ranger

    A lava lamp is considered essential equipment in most of the recording studios I’ve known. Including my own.

    • I’m sorry we broke ours – especially as it took considerable effort and was messy. My husband says, “Bah humbug.” However, I wish to point out that he has an open reel tape recorder in his recording studio, so he’s not above retro. He just calls it “classic.”

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