By Andrea Rodriguez-Ortiz
From book sales to book clubs, children’s story time to author events, and from community centered events to a trade-in book program, Foggy Pine Bookstore does it all. It’s true that major league bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, and even Amazon, tend to steal the show away from the smaller, local booksellers. However, it is hard to miss the blazing spotlight shining on Foggy Pine Bookstore located on King Street in Boone, North Carolina.
Mary Ruthless, owner and operator of Foggy Pine Bookstore, has cherished books since a very young age. “I’ve always loved reading and books. I don’t think that when I was younger I immediately knew I wanted to own a bookstore, but I’ve always wanted a career in literature,” said Ruthless.
Ruthless bought the original Foggy Pine Bookstore in 2016. “That first year was interesting, there was a lot to learn about running a business, about the town of Boone, and about what our customers wanted,” Ruthless recalled.
In the end, the learning curve would pay off. In January of 2018, Ruthless was able to relocate and expand to another building on King Street, next to Appalachian State’s Turchin Center, in order to accomodate for the growing business.
“We had the opportunity to take this bigger space and we just jumped for it,” said Ruthless, “it has opened up opportunities for us in every possible way.” Ruthless has rejoiced in the bigger space as it has allowed the bookstore to hold larger events and open up the store to used books in addition to new.
Foggy Pine’s book collection is carefully curated from a pool of bestsellers, independent publishers, and local authors. The bookstore provides many ways for their customers to get their hands on the books they’ve been searching for. Customers can buy in store, order books through their website, or get discounted special orders through the store. One way or another, Foggy PIne Bookstore knows how to please.
Perhaps the biggest contribution that Foggy Pine lends to Boone is their commitment to the community. “I view the store as an integral part of the community,” said Ruthless, “I want the store to reflect what the community is interested in and wants.” The bookstore holds a variety of different programs and events in order to secure that relationship.
One of the most community building events that Foggy Pine Bookstore has held in the past is the “Community Swap Shop,” a gathering where guests were encouraged to bring their gently used books, clothing, household items, and other items in order to trade them with other members of the community. In addition, Foggy Pine also provided donation boxes for guests who didn’t want to trade. Whether guests swapped or dropped, this event offered open arms to the Boone community.
Other programs held by the bookstore include the used book trade-in program, where customers can bring their used books to trade for other used books in the store. Another program, the ARC Club, provides a way for customers to get their hands on Advanced Readers Copies of up and coming books.
“Our book clubs are really popular, especially since we have more space in our new location,” said Ruthless.
Foggy Pine is home to three other book clubs: Foggy Pine Book Club, a Young Adult Book Club, and a Hatchet Coffee Book Club. Including the ARC Club, these four programs offer something unique for every kind of reader to enjoy.
Ruthless is looking forward to expanding the store’s programs and events, developing them so that Foggy Pine Bookstore becomes a bigger, more involved presence in Western North Carolina.
“I want to develop our author events and expand them so that big name publishers, like Penguin Random House, want to send us their big name authors,” said Ruthless. “We want to become the hub for those bigger events in Western North Carolina.”
“These author events are the most exciting for me,” claims Ruthless. “I want the store and these events to be able to open up these engaging conversations in the community and beyond.”
In addition to featuring local, regional, and big name authors, Ruthless has been playing with the idea of hosting a literary festival in downtown Boone. “It’s a lot of work, and it probably won’t happen for another five years, but it’s a big goal I have for the bookstore,” said Ruthless.
Something that Ruthless wants to do more recently at Foggy Pine is introduce a Spanish language section to the store over the summer of 2018. “I want the bookstore to accomodate for the large Hispanic community here in Boone and I want to be able to serve those people, as well,” remarked Ruthless.
“Foggy Pine Bookstore has been open for two years and it’s had quite the impact on my life,” Ruthless remarked, “I find that I am reading more and more widely and have become more involved in the community as an individual.”
Ruthless is grateful for the community that as been so welcoming. “We have such a wonderful community, they’ve showed me how much community means and how important it is to have that for the bookstore.”
“I think it’s really important for a community to have a bookstore, and we’ve made real relationships with people in the community. So many people that I know come here and buy their books instead of buying them online,” admired Ruthless. “It’s really important that we continue to serve those people who are dedicated and passionate about our store.”
Foggy Pine’s two cats, Oscar and Jane, are always on duty to welcome customers at the bookstore. This summer, make sure to stop by and learn more about what the store has to offer. With their dedication to both literature and the Boone community, Foggy Pine Bookstore is sure to sweep you off your feet.
Foggy Pine Bookstore is located at 471 W. King St., Boone, NC 28607. To learn more about Foggy Pine Bookstore, their events, or programs visit http://www.foggypinebooks.com
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