There's an air of enchantment surrounding the vintage gray cottage with the lace-scalloped porch that houses Buxton Village Books. Maybe it's the bright red geraniums dancing in the breeze, or the teasing glimpse of the Pamlico through grasses and reeds, or the sign on the front door - Welcome, waders, wet suits and bare feet - that speaks to the promise of magic inside. "All are welcome," says owner Gee Gee Rosell. "We won't sell your children or send them home with a puppy if they misbehave. Our customers are well-mannered and brilliant!" Come along for a journey inside Hatteras Island's full-service bookstore and get a taste of the wonder inside.
Full disclosure: I've loved Buxton Village Books since I was a child, visiting every summer during family vacations. Last year, I lived on Hatteras and worked for Gee Gee, pleased to find the shop still one of my favorite places as an employee. Now, living on the mainland, I can close my eyes and call back the sights, smells and feel of the magical island bookstore.
The steps creak comfortingly as you walk in, well-worn floors sloping with a charm recalling all the feet before yours that have wandered in to find adventure, mystery and romance in the books inside. For a small space, the shop carries a vast array of titles, authors and genres. "We call ourselves 'A Complete Line, Full Service Bookstore,'" says Gee Gee. "Meaning if it's in print and we don't have it, we can get it!" Every book in the store is chosen individually, and if Gee Gee hasn't read it, she chooses based on another trusted indie bookseller who has. Gee Gee also listens to her customers, bringing in titles they recommend even if it's not a mainstream author.
Look up and you'll see exposed ceiling beams made from shipwreck timbers. Many historic buildings on Hatteras were constructed with salvaged ship parts. "Easiest way to get lumber!" says Gee Gee. Books about local history and the island are the first you'll see, a charming children's section behind you, cooking to the left. Through the side door there's Young Adult, then circle around to find coastal fiction, poetry, self-help, literary fiction and more.
"My favorite and ever-evolving section is what we call 'Adventure,'" says Gee Gee. "It could also be called 'Travel' or 'Life on the Edge' or 'Let's Go Have Some Fun in a New Place.' I can pull one of these books off the shelf and visit a place I may never actually set foot in."
The center two rooms of the shop date to the 1860s. In the newer rooms where Gee Gee has expanded, you can see the original exterior lap siding, now on the inside. Besides books, Gee Gee carries journals and cards, each chosen individually and all from indie artists. "I love choosing note cards," Gee Gee says. "It's a treat to myself in the middle of winter." She makes sure to steer away from cards that are carried elsewhere on the island, so the card you pick is unique to Buxton Village Books.
As you make your choices, book covers smooth in your hands, Gee Gee rings you up at a an old-school cash register, chatting about your selections. Though she may need to eventually computerize, she says it's important to continue her tradition of personal interaction, "and not have the checkout be all bipping and binging and electronic." Wandering through Buxton Village Books is an authentic Hatteras experience, a journey full of history, magic and adventure. We hope you'll visit soon.
Edge of Eternity, Ken Follett
The First Eagles, Gavin Mortimer
The Story of Land and Sea, Katy Simpson Smith
Blue Mind, Wallace J. Nichols
Buxton Village Books
47918 Highway 12 • Buxton, NC 27920
(252) 995-4240 • firstname.lastname@example.org