Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road this past summer for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…
RICHMOND, Virginia — As nice as it is to be surrounded by smartphones, laptops, and all the glitzy trappings of modern life, something must be said for a store that embraces its history. Along the Historic Shockoe Slip in downtown Richmond sits a store that does exactly that. Hearkening back to a time before the big box stores, Fountain Bookstore is an intimate building carefully maintained with love and respect. Its creamy wooden floors and pleasantly peaceful staff will effortlessly bring you into the fold with a personal touch that you’d struggle to find no matter how many square feet of books are crammed into a store.
From the brick sidewalk in front of the store to the cobblestones on the street and the Morgan Fountain just around the corner, Fountain Bookstore fits perfectly in Richmond’s most historic community. And like any good history, the store has plenty of secrets for those willing to search. You might find yourself asking why there’s a small hole in one of the store’s walls or what the story is behind the table next to the counter, and if you ask these questions you’ll come to know what Fountain Bookstore understands so well. Times change, technologies bring innovation, work becomes more efficient, but the past is always with us, and it has something to say.
Fountain Bookstore Owner Kelly Justice answered the Algonquin Questionnaire.
When did Fountain Bookstore open?
Fountain Bookstore opened its doors in 1978. It’s been through two or three reincarnations since that time, but it’s always been here.
What inspired the name Fountain Bookstore?
The Morgan Fountain just down the street inspired the bookstore’s name. It’s a beautiful fountain and pretty popular in the area, so I understand how it inspired the original owners.
We have this book called Why Can’t Potatoes Walk? As you might guess, it’s an odd one.
What is the oddest non-book item you sell?
We sell necklaces of dead authors that are made by Rabbitfish Jewelry, a local store in Richmond. They do authors by request, but they must be deceased.
What is your favorite Algonquin book and favorite book for the summer?
I liked Jonathan Evison’s most recent book, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, but I also have to mention an oldie from Algonquin. Larry Brown’s Dirty Work has always been a favorite of mine. Outside of Algonquin, I’ve really enjoyed the Vish Puri series from Tarquin Hall. They are mystery books set in India and they’re easy to read, lots of fun and very well-written. The most recent one was The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken.
Is there a staff cocktail of choice?
In general I’d say that our staff likes wine, but I tried a Green Lantern recently and it was great. It’s made with gin, parsley, lime juice, and simple syrup, and it is de-licious.
What is the strangest thing about The Fountain Bookstore?
There are a few quirks of the store that have been passed down through the years. We have a bullet hole in one of our walls from when someone tried to rob the printing shop that was here long before us. There’s also a little note taped on the bottom of our table. It reads “There are an infinite number of worlds hiding in the tiny places you forget to look.”
Next stop: Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, North Carolina.
*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…