“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.”  ~neil gaiman

yesterday I spent a few hours in Dolly’s Bookstore in park city, utah. Dolly’s first opened in the early 1970’s, and is one of those exceptional environments that evokes a smile as you walk in the door. books (of course), cards, candles, doo-dads and whatchits, large chalk signs on walls with hand-written quotes about reading . . . everything cleverly displayed and scented, occasionally, with a waft of bubbling sugar from the candy factory next door. mmm. the store is warm and filled with visual delights, behind which lie story after story, whole worlds just awaiting discovery.

although the atmosphere was pure delight, it was people who made my experience so fabulous. those who walked in the door focused on purchasing a specific book (a steven pinker, a photo book of the area, the latest and greatest chapter book for a 10-year-old), to those who needed an airplane-read, to those searching for a present for the pickiest person they know, to those just wandering through while they finished eating their caramel apple–truffle–outsized marshmallow square.

shoppers in ski coats and warm boots offered opinions on conservation, wolves, and their favorite new novel. they asked where to find good coffee. they smiled, held hands, discussed with spouses/children/sisters which calendar to purchase (“outlander” was a hot choice) or which of three books they should buy for their mom. they told me how to spell names (a-m-e-e and lynn-with-an-e) as I signed books for them. their boots tracked melting snow across the hardwood floors and the booksellers just smiled. shoppers had their books wrapped for christmas. (the snowflake paper or the red?) people in carhartts and arcteryx and designer boots, people in puffy down jackets and sweats. people with shiny faces, red noses, sniffles from being in the same space as the bookstore cat. visitors, and locals. and the booksellers themselves: gracious, knowledgeable, helpful, tolerant, always willing to share a bit of themselves with each request for help.

beautiful people, all.

I agree with neil gaiman. it’s a sad town that doesn’t have a bookstore.