“Wandering the musty mazes of the bookshelves is one of my favorite memories of Charlotte, and continually an inspiration to me as an artist and historian.”
“I would take all four kids there quite a bit when they were little. It was always exciting to see them excited about being in there and picking out books.”
“The owners will always be in my special memories because of their kindness.”
“They are the nicest people I have ever met.”
These are just some of the comments I’ve gathered from the community since Lewis and Emma Trowbridge announced their plan to close their beloved used bookstore in downtown Charlotte. For all the words that line the shelves of their store, there still doesn’t seem to be enough words to describe the sentimentality and affection I, and many others, feel toward The Reading Place and its kind owners.
From the boxes and sleeves of comics, to the stacks and shelves of obscure novels, to the tight rooms and corners packed with hidden titles, The Reading Place had the charm and mystique every small town wants in a local bookstore. One could walk through the store three times and find something new and interesting each time, or stay fixed on one shelf or section for an hour without picking out anything. The Reading Place demanded visitors to look for themselves, and discover what would be most interesting to their tastes.
Of course Lewis and Emma knew where everything was in the store in case something couldn’t be found. One or both were always around to lend a hand, point customers in the right direction, or make a recommendation. Emma was never short of a kind word, and Lewis was never without a rousing conversation or story. Both were avid readers themselves, Lewis capable of finishing a novel in a single night. The Trowbridges represent that endearing brand of storeowner that values personal education, lasting and friendly customer relationships, and family.
The Trowbridges first started selling used books off of Emma’s mother’s kitchen table in 1977. Back then they had 50 books, and after their last inventory they had roughly 75,000. Through the years The Reading Place moved from Potterville to Lawrence Avenue in Charlotte, then to the main strip on Cochran Avenue in 1993. When recently their building fell to new ownership, the Trowbridges decided nearly 40 years was enough time. It was time to sell the inventory and spend more time with the grandkids.
There comes a time for everyone to move on, even longstanding community favorites. Although the absence of The Reading Place will be felt by old and young generations alike, the Trowbridges have left a lasting legacy of literature, reading, and kindness.
On behalf of many book lovers, comic enthusiasts, students of the school of “self-taught,” amateur historians and book critics, and the like, thank you Lewis and Emma for your years of service in the community.