Elizabeth Bluemle - August 30, 2016
On November 23, the Flying Pig will turn twenty years old, and we are starting to plan our party! It’s hard to believe we have been around for two decades. We still call our current location in Shelburne “the new store” – even though we’ve been here ten years, the exact same length of time we were in our old store in Charlotte.
Back in 1996, we opened our doors with 6,500 books and 850 square feet of selling space in a sweet little building that served as the town’s old post office. Twenty years later, we have almost twice as much space and five times more books, toys, cards, and gifts. We’ve seen babies grow into young adults, and young kids grow into grown-ups with children of their own (whom we call Flying Pig grandchildren). We’ve hosted a wedding in the bookstore, we’ve had a baby take his first steps in our picture book section, and we’ve seen so much laughter and many tears over the years as customers navigate their lives with us as one of their community anchor points.
I’m not big on the horn-tooting, but it feels good to have created something real. A bookstore feels worthy to me, and welcoming, and inclusive. (If only we could give away the books for free, that would be perfect! Like a library, but with brand-new books people could keep.) Bookstores – those containers of joy and knowledge, those supporters of passion and curiosity – are most definitely worth celebrating.
One thing we’d like to do for the party is to have a looping slideshow, with photos from store events over the years. We are inviting families to contribute pictures of themselves, both back then in our early days and now. It will be amazing to see how they’ve grown over the past twenty years!
We’ll have music and food, maybe face-painting for the kids, and funny toasts to staff former and present. We may celebrate our long-time customers with a silly raffle.
What else shall we do?
For our tenth anniversary, we paired up with the Shelburne Arts Center and invited our customers to paint tiles for display at the store. These tiles are incredible, from the most abstract toddler creations to elaborate pigs with 3D tails, favorite books, and renditions of Toot and Puddle and Charlotte.
I remember that Eight Cousins’ Carol Chittenden commissioned an amazing alphabet chair that lives outside the store in Falmouth.
While I have dreamed of a big flying pig statue outside our store for as long as we’ve been in business, that’s not going to happen. I’d like to do something special, but the Big Idea hasn’t hit me yet. I’m not worried, though. We always get some crazy idea.
My colleagues, you booksellers who have celebrated significant anniversaries, what were the best things you have done to celebrate those anniversaries? The most memorable? The funniest? The most touching?
I can’t wait to write after our party to let you know ours.