WINCHESTER — A quick walk through the Winchester Book Gallery will show a multitude of items — different genres of books, coloring books, mini games, greeting cards and more.
That diversity, the shop’s owner Christine Patrick said, is very indicative of Winchester.
“One of the things I like about Winchester is we’re all very diverse. I love that I can sell an awesome punk rock book then turn around and sell a book about Andrew Jackson,” Patrick said. “Things like that make me happy. I think that’s who we are, and being an independent bookstore lets me reflect that in a way that’s really unique.”
Whether it’s shopping in person at 7 N. Loudoun St. on the Loudoun Street Mall, choosing items online at www.winchesterbookgallery.com, picking up or having books and items delivered or window shopping at the shop’s backdoor, there’s something for everyone.
Customers can pre-order books and peruse everything online at the website, including live inventory.
Patrick and her husband, Brian Patrick, have owned Winchester Book Gallery since 2011, but the shop has been around for almost 50 years. The shop has changed ownership seven times, Patrick said.
Patrick had helped other people run their businesses before buying the bookstore, she said.
“Then the bookstore came up for sale, and I didn’t want to see it close,” she said.
Patrick said her plan was to make sure everyone felt like they could find something for themselves at her shop. One part of that has been leaving the front of the shop open to imagination with no themed sections for the shelves and tables.
The front of the store is meant to “catch your eye,” she said.
“My goal is for a family of five people to be looking at the table and everyone can think that table is for them,” she said. “You never know what’s going to be up there.”
Through the years, Patrick has picked up numerous tips about owning an independent bookstore.
“And if you think I know a lot about books, you should talk to my publishers who sell to me,” she said. “So, I listen to and read about books all the time. That lets me know enough about a book to recommend it.”
Part of that for her, she said, is making an effort to read lesser-known books or authors instead of big-name authors and popular books — people already know about the big names, she said.
“When you say you like (David) Baldacci, I can also tell you who’s adjacent to him so you can look into that, too,” she explained.
That’s just one Patrick’s favorite aspects of owning the bookstore.
But her number one favorite?
“The community,” she said. “I love this town. I have people who bought from this bookstore when they were 4 years old, and now they’re in their 20s or 30s but they love this bookstore and see it as their own. Then I also sell to the librarians and school districts and businesses — I get to do all kinds of things.”