Like most indie bookstores, I suspect, the Flying Pig gets a lot of love from out-of-state visitors who no longer have bookstores in their own towns. Fall foliage brings throngs of tourists to the area, and we have the great joy of basking in their appreciation of the shop. They see everything about our selection and displays so freshly, it gives us new eyes, too. I also love tracking the book requests we get from out-of-towners that differ from the usual fare, things like woodworking and animal husbandry, auto repair manuals and books of mandala patterns.
Our local customers appreciate us, too, but we’ve been a constant for 17 years now, so they don’t wax rhapsodic every time they walk in the door. When they do, it’s extra special. On Saturday, two local sixth-grade girls came in. Their families started coming to the store when we moved to Shelburne, and the kids (let’s call them Julia and Izzy) are the kind of joyful best friends who remind us how it was to be that young ourselves. They must have spent nearly two hours at the store, wandering around the various sections, comparing books they’d read and wanted to read, looking at comics and puzzles and coin purses and games, chatting together all the while and occasionally coming to the counter to engage us in their conversations. Their ease and familiarity with the bookstore made me so happy. They didn’t buy any books that day; we were simply a favored destination, a neighborhood home away from home.
Just before they left, Izzy turned to David and me and said, “You know, books aren’t my whole world when I’m out in my real life. But when I’m here, it feels as though they are.”