It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since we opened our doors on November 3rd, 2008 — so much has happened in that time, both in the world around us, as well as in our shop. It hardly seems possible for it to all have gone on in just three years!
Here at The Next Chapter, Tresa and I have watched a dream grow, first becoming a startup indie bookshop with a few gifts and lots of ideas; and then blossoming into the thriving shop we like to call our Book and Gift Boutique, where we are fortunate to be working, every day.
Three years ago, we were just opening our doors, hoping that you would find something you liked on our shelves. You were wonderful! You supported us beyond most predictions, so we got to work, and the startup grew into a bustling shop. It was the Next Chapter in both of our lives.
We knew we wanted to have used books as well as new. So we opened our used book basement, seeded it with books from our own collections and began taking donations, giving 10% of each month’s used book sales back to the community in the form of checks to local charities.
We wanted The Next Chapter to have a warm and welcoming atmosphere, so we made a seating area with soft couches and a table with chairs. We installed the book shelves all along the perimeter of the space and arranged displays of books and gifts on tables and shelves and spinners throughout the middle of the shop. We invited people to stop, have a cup of coffee, take a few minutes to browse, relax, enjoy.
Over the next three years, we listened to feedback, we worked to fulfill requests, we watched what was happening in our community, and tried to help wherever we could. We read countless book reviews and fine tuned our book selection. When we didn’t have what you were looking for, we helped you locate the books you wanted. When you responded to the few gift lines we carried, and asked for more, we slowly began to carry more kinds of items, or bigger selections of the kinds of things you shopped for. When other shops on the square closed their doors, or opened, we responded to fulfill the needs of our town by carrying items like greeting cards.
We tried a few things that just didn’t work, like magazines; or that were initially intended to be temporary like blooming plants during the spring season. We sought out some of the things that weren’t available in our community, to encourage you to shop locally. We added some specific gift lines that you asked for, like Willow Tree figurines and WoodWick Candles, to name just two.
And again, your response has been great! All the kind words and encouragement, as well as the willingness to shop locally, have made The Next Chapter a success. In April of this year, we annexed the suite of offices between the main shop and the dental office, and added a Home and Garden Décor section, stocking it with lots of beautiful things to make your house a home, and gourmet food mixes, coffees and teas to feed your loved ones.
A few months later, we realized we needed more help, so we hired Diane Gordon, the third member of our team, who brings years of bookshop and book-keeping experience along with a generous portion of creativity to the mix. We’ve enjoyed having her, and her new perspective, helping make this an even better place.
If you haven’t been to The Next Chapter lately, you may not know that the term ‘gift selection’ is perhaps a bit misleading. We have a fashion accessories section, a paper goods section with cards and journals, and a toy section, and of course, our Home and Garden section.
One day, a year or so ago, a woman from out of town, who had spent some time browsing and shopping, stopped on her way out carrying several bags, and exclaimed, “This is a Book Boutique! I love it!” We liked it too, and have added that to our description of The Next Chapter.
We like being a Book and Gift Boutique. We also like being part of Knoxville’s own next chapter, as our town looks to the future and works to solve the problems facing many communities of our size.
- We have donated over $5000 to local causes benefitting everything from homeless pets to college bound students.
- We’ve sold nearly 20,000 new books, and 9000 used books since we opened – just think of all that reading!
- We have entered into partnerships with other local businesses, such as the Peace Tree Brewing Company to bring entertaining events to the town.
- We have worked with local schools, libraries and churches, offering discounts and services, because we want to be the local source for the books they need.
- We have offered adult education classes on such diverse topics as Basic Computers, Flower Arranging, Memory Quilt Crafting and more.
- We provide meeting space for several local organizations, and gathering space for the community at large.
- We have sold tickets to numerous events for organizations like the Red Rock Arts Alliance and K-Act.
- We have welcomed other would-be entrepreneurs, offering encouragement and practical assistance whenever we could.
As we look to the future, we’re ready for yet another chapter as we begin our 4th year of business. We will continue to bring the best new books each season, finding those titles that make you happy and keep you informed and entertained. We will continue to find great new product lines for your gift-giving needs and your own pleasure. We will continue to support our community with financial contributions, in-kind donations, and institutional discounts; as well as by being the local outlet for event tickets, and the ideas incubator for would-be entrepreneurs.
We not only want to encourage folks to shop local, we also want to become a destination for people outside of our community. We will bring in more authors, more events, and more classes. We want to live up to our name, by helping to bring the ‘Next Chapter’ to Knoxville.
Want more photos of life at The Next Chapter? See our photo album