“My father was a family practice physician in Dothan. He made a lot of house calls like those old country doctors. His patients loved him. My roots are deep here, and my husband and I decided to put our own family roots in Dothan. I educated our four kids at home. Reading out loud was a family activity, and literature became a family culture for us. I saw the empty nest and new season of life coming my way and wanted to do something different. Opening Downtown Books became the dream.
We have one child who is a junior in high school. We were going to wait until after he graduated to get started, but opening the bookstore happened faster than we planned. This location became available across the street from the restaurant Kelsey Clark’s opened after she won ‘Top Chef.’ She is our local celebrity. A friend opened a gift shop and coffee shop down the street. We wanted to be a part of the revitalization of downtown Dothan.
Every community needs an independent bookstore. I was inspired by local bookstores such as Parnassus Book in Nashville and Page and Palette in Fairhope. After being open only a few months, we realized that a bookstore attracts all walks of life. It’s something of a public square where you can meet people who are different from you or who think another way and have real conversations. Democracy needs differing opinions and empathy for understanding the other side. Ideas from books can change communities and the world.
I am at the stage of life where I want my time and relationship investments to count. I don’t want to do small talk, I want to go deep with people and be genuine. The first week that we opened, a woman came in and said she felt like this is a space to breathe. That is exactly what I want our store to be.”