A Book Lover's Den
This weekend, hordes of book lovers will make their yearly pilgrimage to the Boone Mall for the Watauga County Library's annual book sale.
While they are there, they'll have a chance to visit another great source of reading material: The new location of Black Bear Books.
"I've been working at Black Bear Books through all of its incarnations, all the way back to when it was the Book Warehouse," store manager Scott Wheeler said. "We've been wanting to have a Boone Mall presence for a long time, and finally we got the opportunity."
That opportunity arose earlier this year, when the Waldenbooks chain closed a number of its locations nationwide, including its store in the Boone Mall.
After Waldenbooks closed, Black Bear Books moved in and remodeled the store to accommodate its various departments.
In addition to a vast array of hardcover and softcover books of all genres, Black Bear Books features a large selection of yarn and knitting materials, CDs, maps, preserves and a coffee bar.
"We've got cappuccino, lattes, chai, herbal teas and good drip coffee," barista Andrew Baker said.
Baker worked with Black Bear Books owners Karen Hall and Chris Walker during the store's move and is now working in the coffee bar.
Beverage prices at the coffee bar range from $1.39 to about $4. The coffee bar does not currently offer food, but plans for those offerings are in works.
"It's been a wonderful move," Wheeler said. "All of our regular customers have come by and said how much they prefer the parking lot at the mall over the parking lot at our old location. And the mall owners have been very helpful. It's just been a win-win situation."
The first thing customers will notice when they visit the new Black Bear Books is the yarn and knitting area in the front of the store.
"We sell Knit-Picks knitting needles that feature Harmony wood made of laminated birch," Linda Plane said. "We also have knitting instruction books and needles of all sizes."
Currently, the bookstore is offering two knitting gatherings a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The Tuesday gathering is for more advanced knitters and is adults only, while the Thursday gathering is for knitters of all levels, including kids.
"We have the adults-only knitting group on Tuesday, because sometimes it is just nice to get together with other people, and sometimes you just need conversation," Plane said.
Plane also said that a lot of people in the High Country are Black Bear Books regulars because it is locally owned, and because of its knack of tracking down older, out-of-print titles.
"The store has a wide selection of regional books, both those that are about this area and those that are written by our neighbors," Plane said.
The new store does not currently have Wi-Fi service, but the owners plan to install it soon.
Black Bear Books hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call (828) 264-4636, or visit http://www.blackbearbooks.com.