Living La Vida Local
BY KAY LOCKRIDGE
IT’S EASIER for many people to go online to shop than out to a brick-and-mortar store — especially during a pandemic. Yet nothing provides more personal service than a locally owned, independent retail shop — especially your hometown bookstore. It’s easy and economical to shop for books on Amazon, where you might get 60 percent off the list price of a bestseller. Compare that to a trip to a locally owned shop, where the discount may be only 20 percent off the list price and you have to find a place to park. But think again about your visit to one of Santa Fe’s many independent bookstores, such as Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse near the Plaza. It’s a relatively large yet cozy space, where you can sip a good cup of coffee while you take your time perusing new titles in your favorite genre — perks that compensate for the effort it takes to get to the shop and pay a (slightly) higher price for your new book. And the same can be said for the impressive number of other locally owned, independent bookstores in the City Different: Garcia Street Books, op. cit. books in the DeVargas Center, Big Star Books and Music, Books of Interest, the Ark Bookstore and Bee Hive Books, as well as the newest addition, George R. R. Martin’s Beastly Books in the Jean Cocteau Cinema on Montezuma Street. Amazon may have driven national bookstore chains such as Borders out of business, but the local guys are hanging in there — thanks to loyal Santa Feans and out-oftowners who want a real taste of the City of Holy Faith. Anne Hillerman, noted Santa Fe author and avid reader, says that “independent bookstores offer . . . readers a chance to find titles we probably wouldn’t see otherwise, especially when it comes to poetry and the history of our area. The folks on staff often have great suggestions for books that speak specifically to the area their store serves, or books by area authors.” She adds that “owners [of local bookstores] also tend to understand the larger needs of their community and to be generous in their support of our libraries, literacy programs, projects to get kids reading and more. These stores are more than a business: they are a service.” As an author, Hillerman also appreciates local bookstores because “they make life easier for their customers and authors by shining the light on our new releases.” Stargazer, Hillerman’s sixth book in the Chee/Leaphorn/Manuelito mystery series, will be released on April 13 and promoted with a Zoom event at Collected Works. Other homegrown businesses — offering everything from clothing to antiques to garden supplies — also provide excellent, personalized services to their customers. And that local loyalty is a two-way street. Owner Roland Richter says that Joe’s Dining on Rodeo Road has managed to stay in business through the pandemic because customers have stood by the restaurant, “and we’ll stand by them,” he adds. Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Bridget Dixon says membership in the Chamber is of value because it brings together “leaders and members of varied backgrounds and interests. We work for, and on behalf of, businesses throughout the City Different, and we are broadening our scope to the [growing] Southside, as well as involving more Hispanic- and women-owned businesses.” Younger entrepreneurs, she suggests, can also benefit from working with older, long-established business leaders. “Santa Fe is the tourism hub of New Mexico,” Dixon notes, “and the industry is essential for both our local and state economy. We need to focus on restarting and supporting this crucial sector of the economy.” To that end, Eric Moffat announced recently that the nearly 30-year-old Travel Bug bookshop and travel center is reorganizing to offer locally brewed beer in addition to coffee and pastries. The son of the store’s founder noted that while he will soon be leaving the business, he is excited for the store’s future. “I mean, a bookstore/brewery,” he told The New Mexican earlier this year — “how cool is that?” Kay Lockridge has always liked asking questions. When she learned at age 12 that she could get paid for doing so, she was hooked on journalism — and she still is 70 years later.