Aired: March 17, 2012

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

When Jack Beck and Wendy Welch (University of Virginia at Wise) decided to move to the small mountain town of Big Stone Gap, they hadn’t planned on opening a used bookstore. But a big Victorian house captured their imaginations and before they knew it they were setting up shop. Despite the growing popularity of e-readers and a downturn in the national economy, Jack and Wendy’s small-town bookstore is thriving—and fostering community. Wendy is writing a book about their experience, called The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: a memoir of friendship, community and the uncommon pleasure of a good book.


9 Comments on “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap”

  1. Marilyn Scott

    Just heard the story on With Good Reason. Great story, you two–hooray for you! You’ve done two things I’ve always dreamed of: traveled around in primarily the small towns (I prefer back roads to highways); and have a bookstore [cum tea shop]. Bully for you for having the courage to put out your cupped palms and catch that store when you did.

  2. Jo Anne Jones

    I love this very unique bookstore and the way Wendy and Jack have made it a sort of a “town center”. I can hardly wait to read the book.

  3. Sunny Tanner

    I count Jack and Wendy good friends in my life. I absolutely love their bookstore and don’t get up there often enough. But they have helped me find a couple of books that I loved in the 70’s and lost during the years. They can research books to find them for you and they offer a wide variety in the store. Anyone who has not gone to Big Stone Gap to their bookstore is missing out. I look forward to their next “event” at the store. I truly enjoyed this interview with them….they are such great people.

  4. Walter Mckenzie

    Jack and Wendy used to live in White Springs, FL. We were so sorry to see them leave, but are not at all surprised to hear of their wonderful impact on their new home town. White Springs’ loss is Big Stone Gap’s gain and you are lucky to have them and to benefit from their keen insights on building community.

  5. Jack Beck

    The great picture (above) of our bookstore manager Val-kittie surveying her domain was taken by ace Big Stone Gap photographer Elissa Powers. She’s on FaceBook, where you can see lots of other great photographs.

  6. chris consentino

    just listened, enraptured, to your npr visit….so much more than an interview…felt like we were really visiting wth you folks!! thank you!!! i have an idea for a “book-related” event for your shop….also, looking for a particular book…i’ll be calling!!! again, thank you!!!! made my day!!!!! ah! the joy of books, and dreams!!!! faithfully, chris consentino

  7. chris desmottes

    Read the book, spread the word and visited the shop! Great experience, unique group of individuals. Going back in the Spring. It was worth the 888 mile round trip!!!

    1. lpf3p

      Hi Chris,

      Yes, what a great shop. When did you get to visit the magical place? We’re airing this episode again right after Thanksgiving, because it was such a hit!

      Thanks for listening,


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