Indie Feature: Foxtale Bookshoppe

I visited a new (to me) bookstore in Woodstock, GA over the weekend and thought I’d share some pictures. Pictures and a story about how the owners came up with the name, FoxTale Book Shoppe. Would you like to hear it?

Karen Schwettman, Jackie Tanase and Ellen Ward were three writers who met in a writers’ group several years back. They quickly became friends and, when they weren’t reading each others’ work, they were travelling together. They often threw around the idea of one day opening a bookstore together and, the year they all turned fifty, they decided to do it. They only needed a name. Around that time, they took a trip to Red Rocks, Colorado, where they intended to see a concert at the famous outdoor venue. As they were walking from the parking lot to the amphitheater, a red fox slinked across their path, stopping mere feet in front of them. They all stopped in their tracks, held their breath and waited for the fox to skirt off. But it didn’t. All four stayed like this for some time until the fox finally turned tail and disappeared into the woods. When they’d all caught their breath, Schwettman, Tanase and Ward agreed that the fox had to be a sign. But what did it mean?

The story continues that when the trio got back to Woodstock and met up with the rest of their writers’ group, another friend happened to bring over a book of American Indian stories and totems. They told her their fox story and the friend became very excited. She shared what she’d read about the fox totem: In some American Indian tradition, the red fox symbolizes feminine maturity and creativity. She often appears to women in their fifties and heralds an influx of feminine creative energy. And so the name FoxTale Book Shoppe was born.

The shop itself features mostly new books (rare these days for indies), with a shelf at the back of gently loved titles. There’s an extensive cooking selection, offering all the most buttery and delicious cookbooks to come out of, predominantly, the south. Since Foxtale was born in a writer’s group, a large conference table in the middle of the store pays hommage to that birth while setting the tone for the kind of exchange the owners hope to foster between customers and authors in this space. Ask any the owners what they’re proudest of about their bookstore and they’ll probably tell you their community-building events. As Schwettman told me on this particular day, “Unfortunately, you can’t count on people to come out of their way just to buy a book anymore. Nowadays, you have to bring the people in with events.”

Of course, I was an exception to that rule; I had driven all the way to Woodstock to buy a book… a book that they didn’t have in stock. While I’m always a little tempted to strike off points from indies when they don’t have a book I’m after, I have to remind myself that this is one of their merits: independents still encourage discovery and spontaneity. If I wanted exactly what I wanted, when I wanted it, and didn’t care about browsing around and becoming inspired by what else was out there, I’d just order on Amazon. But I’m convinced that browsing, being inspired, and letting yourself get caught up in the moment is so crucial for developing yourself as a reader. And so, I instead chose a book that caught my eye, and, as the great poet said, “that has made all the difference.”

PS, I know there’s some recent news scandal of some sort that goes along with this book that would probably shape my view of it, but I don’t want to know. Not yet. So don’t tell me!

What did you do this weekend? Visit any neat book spaces (even if it was just a friend’s library)? I’d love to hear.

(All photos were taken by me except the shot of the owners)

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1 comment
  1. asiancajuns said:

    I will have to make a point of going when I’m next in town, Erin! Thank you so much for sharing the story of how they named Foxtales… I love that! And I love the idea of bookstores still being a place for community and an exchange of ideas — it sounds like a wonderful place… even if I have to go OTP to get there ;)

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