If you haven’t been in Blacksburg recently, you may have been missing out on the newest and coolest shop: Blacksburg Books. Located on Main Street, next door to Gourmet Pantry, this community-centered used and new bookstore has many items to offer.
On August 21, I was lucky enough to speak with owner Laurie Kelly. Kelly is an attorney who, during quarantine, realized that she wanted to open up a used bookstore in Blacksburg. After receiving over 1,000 books from her deceased neighbor, Kelly realized there was no better opportunity than after tragedy to open her dream bookstore. So, what makes this store stand out in the crowd? Its unique focus, of course.
As Kelly puts it, “…our focus is on local.” Not only does the store offer a wide variety of used books, but she makes an effort to keep the majority of stocked items local. For example, Blacksburg Books has a plethora of foods and crafts made in the heart of Blacksburg. This company is incredibly focused on the community; as Kelly explains, “all of [their] food and drink is local… [they] have arts and crafts made by local people.” What better way to bring together local artisans. Furthermore, there is a focus on local authors with opportunities to meet these writers during signings and readings at the bookstore.
However, while this lovely shop offers local crafts and food, it’s the people who make it. Laurie Kelly is a savvy business woman who understands the needs and wants of her community. By her side is manager Ellen Woodall, who is a punk rocker settled comfortably in middle-aged activities of gardening, cooking, and reading. This dream team, and the faithful employees, bring Blacksburg Books to life.
The inviting atmosphere stems from Kelly’s personal belief of the importance in how employees treat their patrons. Someone once told her that the customers should feel like guests. However, that doesn’t do her justice. The customers shouldn’t feel like guests, but they should feel like family, as Kelly puts it. As a customer myself, this particular company culture stands out because, while they are not my true family, the employees make you feel invited and warm — as if you’ve been welcomed home. They are the reason to come back time and time again.
If it isn’t the books and staff that bring you in, maybe it’s the support of local community members. As someone who lives in Blacksburg year-round, I loved hearing about how we were going to have a bookstore that felt more homely. In fact, when I first walked into Blacksburg Books, I instantly fell in love. New books, old books, local art, local food, charming environment, welcoming employees — everything about Blacksburg Books was amazing. And I’m not the only one to say that.
According to many reviews, locals are in love with Blacksburg Books. A much needed addition to the town, as one Google review raves. Another calls Blacksburg Books their “go-to place” because of the wide variety of items. If you’re looking for a place to buy used or new books with a love for local support, Blacksburg Books is the place. Just as with the town of Blacksburg, the community is once again the heart and soul of Blacksburg Books.
Lastly, Blacksburg Books hosts an immense amount of sales. From flash sales to 5% off every book purchase for those who wear a Blacksburg Books shirt or bring their Blacksburg Books tote bag, this shop is consistently offering opportunities to save on your next purchase. Furthermore, it’s easy to keep in touch with Blacksburg Books by signing up for their newsletter or following them on social media.
With all that said, I urge anyone who’s looking for something new to swing by Blacksburg Books. Try local food, read new books, and take a peek at their weekly poem that anyone can leave a message in. I hope you find love for this local gem, and your next bookish obsession.