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Stories from the Smokies

Enjoy books? Stroll through downtown Bryson City and you find books for sale on almost every block. These are not Barnes & Noble big box stores, but local retail stores with sections for readers young and old. Most offer selections reflecting the theme of the store or the personal interest of the owner/proprietor.

(Above) Store Manager Gail Findlay arranges a seasonal window display at the local Friends of the Library bookstore.

Friends of the Marianna Black Library Used Book Store

Bryson City’s largest bookstore is full of surprises. “Because our inventory is entirely donated, the selections are constantly changing”, says Manager Gail Findlay. “You never know what you’ll find.”

Some of the store’s most popular books include mystery thrillers, Christian fiction, large print books, magazines, craft ideas and instruction books. There are vintage books, music CDs and vinyl, as well as movies on DVD.

A unique feature in the store is the early 1900’s Italian marble soda fountain with stained glass murals. It was originally located in Bennett’s Drug Store in Bryson City.

The bookstore is staffed entirely by volunteers, including high school students. All profits are donated to Bryson City’s Marianna Black Library for ongoing programs and operations.

32 Everett St
Bryson City NC
828-488-5655
Facebook.com/FoMBL

Appalachian Mercantile

Want to read more about the lure and lore of Bryson City and the surrounding area? A good place to start is the books section of the Appalachian Mercantile store, with its very comprehensive collection of books on local history, several written by the owner, Lance Holland.

Most are non-fiction books on local interests such as birds, gems, mushrooms and trees. You’ll find books on Cherokee Indian lore, plants of the Cherokee and Cherokee basketry. There are spooky stories, mountain ghost stories, legends, unsolved disappearances and ghost lore. There’s a section for kids and adults relating to the history of trains in the Smokies. The store also has a selection of raised relief and topo maps.

Lance Holland is a man of varied talents: backcountry guide, builder, author of ‘Fontana: A Pocket History of Appalachia,’ ‘The Nantahala River: A History and Guide’ and coauthor of ‘Hiking Trails of the Smokies.’ He worked twenty years as a location manager/scout for motion pictures including ‘The Last of the Mohicans’, ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘Nell’. Lance produced and directed the historic documentary films ‘Nantahala: Land of the Noonday Sun’ and ‘Hiking on Hazel Creek.’

Lance Holland, owner and author
158 Everett Street
828-488-2531
AppalachianMercantile.net

MRKT On the Square

One of Bryson City’s newest downtown stores, MRKT on the Square combines a varied retail experience with Sandra D’s coffee and sweet shop. The store offers everything from shoes, gardening tools, kitchen gadgets and pottery to a selection of homemade baked goods and fried pies. And there’s a large selection of books for all ages.

For kids, there are art activity books – how to draw, sticker books, trace and learn books, wipe clean books, coloring books, push-pull-slide books, scratch and sketch books. There are puzzle books and games to enjoy while traveling (even in the car) and a selection of 5-minute (and longer) bedtime storybooks.

Adults can find a nice selection of books on food and drink — canning, vegan recipes, keto diet, composting, campfire cooking, soul food, tailgating and BBQ. And guidebooks for foragers to identify, harvest and prepare eidble wild plants.

For entertaining, you’ll find such books as Craft Beer for Geeks, Whiskey Bible and Tropical Cocktails.

Ben King, co-owner
160 Main Street
828-788-2390
Facebook.com/SandraDsMRKT

Matt’s Books
At Appalachian Tea Company

Matt Huett has always wanted to own a bookstore. And he’s also partial to having a cup of tea and talking about books with friends and new acquaintances. So now he has his dream location for Matt’s Books at Appalachian Tea Company, where you can choose from various loose-leaf teas, baked goods and freshly squeezed lemonades.

Matt has a wide variety of books, including everything from detective novels to non-fiction essays, young adult novels, anime and manga, and theology and spirituality.

Matt & his wife Nicole are both teachers at Swain High School, so the bookstore is at times a hangout for local students after school. The story has hosted author book signings and interactive readings, and every month hosts the Bryson City Socrates Cafe, which encourages an open philosophical conversation.

Matt Huett, owner
300 Everett Street
828-341-7357
AppalachianTeaCo.com

One Twenty Main

In addition to her own creations — paintings, prints, note cards and designs — artist Ashley Hackshaw’s Main Street studio/shop has several displays of books hand-picked by the artist. Themes include:

— The beauty and diversity of national parks
— Thoughts about the world we live in, our planet
— Instructions on writing and life; writing techniques
— Personal favorites, primarily non-fiction|
— Creativity and invention
— Local authors

Ashley also sells several hand-picked books on art and creativity, including books to help budding artists nurture their creativity and explore their feelings through art. She has how-to books for art projects like rock painting, paint mixing books and journals to create your own books.

Ashley Hackshow, owner
120 Main Street
LilBlueBoo.com

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