Walk a Crooked Mile Searching For Potential New Location, Structure
The bookstore has been open at Mt. Airy Station for 15 years.
Greg Williams knows he'd like to potentially moved Walk a Crooked Mile Books to another location. He just isn't sure where that might be.
The 15-year old bookstore, which is currently housed in tight quarters at Mt. Airy Station on SEPTA's Chestnut Hill East line, has been running out of room for some time. Williams usually accepts book donations all the time but wasn't able to take them in August or September because he had too many; already this month he's gotten close to 250 boxes of books.
People, he said, hate to throw away books.
"We're really a recycling center at some level," Williams said. "So many people want to use us to get rid of books that, basically, we get buried."
Williams isn't complaining—he clearly loves books. But their constant presence has made him aware of his space's limitations.
When the Chestnut Hill Borders closed last year, Weavers Way Co-op General Manager and East Mt. Airy resident Glenn Bergman encouraged Williams to think about taking over the space and maybe turning it into some sort of book co-op.
Williams put a letter in the Chestnut Hill Local inquiring about support for the idea, and a community meeting about a book co-op followed soon afterward.
It's unlikely that Walk a Crooked Mile, however, will be able to move to the old Borders building. The rent is probably too high, and a different deal may soon be in place for the space as well.
So Williams said he may be looking at other locations in Mt. Airy, and said he still hopes the co-op idea could become a reality.
He already considers the bookstore to be a community center of sorts. He has 25 concerts there a year, and other events, like yard sales, draw people to the train station.
"When we have those sorts of things it brings people toether who normally don't come together," Williams said. "I'd like to find a place where we could do more of that in a bigger way."
It's harder, for example, for the concerts to happen when the weather gets cold.
Williams dreams of having a larger space that potentially could house a coffee shop where people could gather and that could also contain an art supply store of sorts. If it were a co-op, members could potentially volunteer their time to work there, which would also make things easier.
It would also be a non-profit.
Williams has considered all of these ideas, in part, because he believes people must start to think about bookstores in a different way. If they die out, he said, entire communities will suffer.
"We kind of need to think of them as a cultural instutution and somehow gather our resources to support them," he said.
For now, Williams is planning on holding another community meeting sometime in November.
He's not in any rush. If nothing else, he could keep the store where it currently is but just change the business model to make it more cooperative. Any and all options are being examined.
"It's not going to happen quickly," Williams said. "We're trying to do it deliberately and thoughtfully."
Anyone who would like to get in touch with Williams about the bookstore should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.