Friday, September 16, 2011

A Sad Farewell to Red Fox Books

I remember walking by the brick building for the first time knowing that there was going to be a independent bookstore opening up and I did a dance out there on the sidewalk.  I did a dance not knowing that this store was going to change my life, or that the people opening it would become my dear friends.   I don’t remember my first impressions of them, I was so nervous on the interview I don’t remember much of anything, including whether or not I made a fool of myself.  It was my first job outside of temping since I graduated college, and though some people would not consider working at a bookstore to be the next logical step after college, but to me nothing else could possibly make that much sense. 

Years before a travel partner asked me what my dream job would be if money was not an issue.  Everyone else in our group had exotic answers, I answered that I wanted to open a bookstore/poetry venue.  So to find myself four years later working in a fairly brand new independent bookstore was the hands on experience that I could never get in college.  I was also lucky enough to be working for two incredible people that were more than happy to show and teach me all they could about the business.  They were also comfortable enough to give me room to be creative and start my own projects within the walls of their wonderful bookstore. 

Since opening its doors in 2006 Red Fox Books truly grew into an integral part of the small town of Glens Falls.  The downtown is only a few blocks and all of the small businesses and restaurants feed off of each other making what was not that long age a sad deserted little town into a place to come and spend the day, shopping, eating and walking around.  In my years there I saw a few businesses close, but I also saw many more open up.  All of these businesses have been independently owned and run by some very brave and creative people, who understand what a local business can do for an area.

I know that people in this country are finally coming around, I see it everywhere I go.  You see more and more people focusing on eating locally, and wanting to know where their food comes from.  Willing to pay that little bit more, to know how there food is raised and the people that are raising it.  You see this with other independent business as well but not nearly as much.  When it comes to a book people have a fairly easy time justifying going online at all hours and buying a book from an online retailer that has the ability to sell it for a few dollars cheaper. 

I don’t think that I need to go into the whole lecture about all the many reasons you should support an independent business, it would be like lecturing a smoker about why they have to quit.  Believe me I understand, I was a smoker for a very long time.  I know you all know better, and I also know that many of you will continue supporting nameless faceless businesses for the sake of a dollar or two.  I get it.  You can blame it on the economy or on E-readers, but the truth is there are just too many people that don’t much care where their belongings come from or who they are supporting, though I hope some day soon we will start to see those numbers change.

Today will be the last day of business in Red Fox Books in Glens Falls, NY.  Next month the store would have hit it's fifth year in business.  They have had some incredibly wonderful and loyal customers, who I have missed dearly since I moved away.  I am sad for those customers, Ann and Keith, Matt, Gary, Jon and Liz and so many more of you that have loved this store as much as I have.  That found a home there as I did, a place that was safe and comfortable that always made you happy to be there.  I know how lucky I was to have had Red Fox in my life, and to have been able to work side by side with Susan and Naftali for the three+ years that I was able to.  I am pretty sure that most people don’t get that lucky.  I can't tell you how sad I am not to be there right now, though for what reason I don't know it just feels like I should.

I hope all of you, no matter where you live will go into an independent business today, I don’t care what kind, and buy something.  Make sure you ask the person working there for a recommendation because for once you will actually get a good one, from someone who is doing this for a lot more reason than that it is just a job.  Stay and chat awhile, because they will actually be willing to chat instead of moving you along to get to the next person, or selling you a membership or store credit card.  I know it is easy to go to the larger store where maybe you can get more things done.  But I promise you the more you do that the more you will look back on your life and see a blur, because none of those shopping moments (and we as Americans have a lot of them) will be of any substance, and more likely than not the things you buy in those places will not last you long enough to remember. 

So today, for me, Susan, Naftali and Red Fox Books, go to an independent business.  I have the feeling you will thank me. 


  1. You write with such poise. I can only imagine coming in and asking you for a book recommendation. It goes something like this:

    You hand me several different novels and two or three cookbooks. "These recipes will really bring those stories to life," you would say and then lead me over to a small desk and over stuffed chair. "Sit here," you would command. "Read this paragraph. Now read this recipe. Can't you taste it?"

    It would be a wonderful thing if you still worked in a book store and it was close to me. How sad more people don't support the independent chains. Perhaps one day soon.

  2. While putting away money for a wedding (I decided at at the age of 32 it was ridiculous for my parents to pay for anything), I worked at a bookstore as a second job. I loved it and even considered a job offer there for full time employment (but could not give up the $$ from my "real job.") This is a sad story and you have made me rethink my relationship with Amazon. Thank you for making me THINK!

  3. Mikaela- It was always a great pleasure when I was able to help fellow food fanatics, and though I am not nearby I am always happy to pass on recommendations. I think you and I have similar taste as it is

    Eliotseats- Your comment meant quite a bit to me, that was very much my hope when I read it. You were right, it is a very difficult field to make a living in. SO glad you are rethinking.

  4. A local hardware store that was in business in our town for over 40 years is about to close its doors. It's a sad thing for our community and for independent businesses everywhere, that owners just can't hold on. We are dairy farmers and are finding that we are competing with China and New Zealand. Yes, for milk, a highly parishable and sensitive food. Who knows when our country and the people in it will come to their senses. Hopefully not after it is too late.