As New Orleaneans, we thrive on tradition, although sometimes those traditions are not normal. We don’t accept anything that might take away from our city’s charm, or even slightly alter the way we go about our daily lives. This includes shopping habits.
The Borders that inhabited the old Bultman funeral home only survived three years in the historic building on St. Charles Avenue, but a small local bookshop has outlived the retail giant by 30 years. Being only four blocks away from the national chain did not keep 33-year-old Garden District Book Shop from having continued success, and neither did a hurricane, recession, or even the creation of several e-readers. In fact, it only compelled owner Britton Trice to create new and innovative ways to keep his business open, making the precious shop even more of an Uptown gem throughout the years.
“The book business is different than it was 20 years ago,” explained the seasoned proprietor. “We are constantly reinventing ourselves to make sure that we are putting the right book in people’s hands.”
Although Trice has been in business for 33 years, he continues to use his entrepreneurial spirit to further cultivate his established business by consistently creating more events for the book aficionados in New Orleans. With monthly book club meetings, and even more frequent book signings, the shop sees a steady flow of loyal readers of any passion and genre. Tonight, Garden District Book Shop will host a book signing with acclaimed essayist, David Sedaris. Best known for his memoirs and witty social observations, the appearance is set to begin at 6:30 pm, and will include a reading from the writer’s new book Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.
The local retailer also maintains its success with the unique customer service not found at larger retailers or online. Trice’s staff has a combined 75 years of experience in the book business to ensure that their customers get the right books, information, and recommendations.
Besides the extensive book knowledge and genuine customer service, Trice continues to stay up to date with the evolving technology and needs of his customers. E-books are available for download on the shop’s website, all of which are compatible with several platforms including the iPad, Book Nook, and Sony E-reader. The shop continues to constantly evolve, but it remains indispensable by specializing in books including collections of signed literature, Louisiana inspired and published books, out of print copies, and interior design hardcovers.
In a city with deep literary roots, it’s clear to see why so many residents remain loyal to the local booksellers. The city has inspired writers such as John Kennedy Toole, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Anne Rice just to name a few. In New Orleans we live among the inspiration that once fueled great American writers, and still continues to influence so much talent. We continue to embrace the customs of our literary heroes by visiting the local shops that are tucked within the same streets and large oak trees that once stimulated their creativity.
And who are we to mess with tradition? After all, we did survive without chain bookstores until 2007.
Tonight, Garden District Book Shop will host a book signing with acclaimed essayist, David Sedaris. Best known for his memoirs and witty social observations, the appearance is set to begin at 6:30 pm, and will include a reading from the writer’s new book Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.
NolaVie has written about many other independent bookstores in New Orleans. View previous articles on bookstores here.