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March 18, 2019

Warrenton bookstore opens to a crush of customers

I believe books can change people. I think they can change communities and the world.
— Cammie Fuller, The Open Book co-owner
The Open Book
• Owners: Chris Granger, Cammie Fuller and Rachel Sirene.

• What: Independent, general bookstore, with 8,000 to 10,000 new hardcover and paperback volumes.

• Where: 104 Main St., Warrenton.

• Employees: Three owners, 5 part-timers.

• Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

• Grand opening: 5 p.m. Friday, March 22.

• Phone: 540-878-5358

• Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

• Website: oldtownopenbook.com

• Facebook: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Old Town Warrenton’s new bookstore got off to a brisk start Saturday.

In about six hours, The Open Book at 104 Main St. sold 1,700 volumes, according to co-owner Chris Granger, who declined to discuss the first-day’s revenue total.

“We’re overwhelmed by the response,” admitted Mr. Granger, 47, who represents Center District on the county board of supervisors. “Looking forward to next week.”

The general independent bookstore closed Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and will remain shut until its “grand” opening at 5 p.m. Friday, March 22.

The six-day break will give Mr. Granger and partners Cammie Fuller and Rachel Sirene — all Warrenton residents — a chance to tweak the operation and restock shelves, which contained about 3,200 books when the store opened.

At 1,600 square feet, The Open Book can accommodate up to 10,000 new hardcover and paperback volumes. Titles run the gamut of categories.

The nonprofit Friends of the Fauquier Library operates The Book Cellar at the John Barton Payne Community Hall downtown. It sells only used books, typically costing 50 cents to $1. All proceeds help support county library programs.

The Open Book helps fill a void created when Borders closed in 2011 and BJ’s Books shut down in 2014.

“It was steady all day and didn’t really stop,” Mr. Granger, a division chief with the Prince William County Fire Department, said of Saturday’s customer turnout. “There were a lot of people who bought seven or eight books” at a time.

Because of that, the store stayed open an extra 90 minutes, he said.

Bright and airy, The Open Book features a cozy corner for young readers, space for story times and room for author readings and other activities that promote reading and writing.

Red Truck Bakery owner Brian Noyes helped kick off Saturday’s festivities with a signing event for his first cookbook — “Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes from America's Favorite Rural Bakery,” released last fall.

To mark the occasion, Mr. Noyes brought cake and shamrock cookies for customers, produced by his staff. Red Truck has two bakery/retail outlets — one in Warrenton, the other in Marshall.

“It’s long overdue,” Jennifer Taylor, 38, said of the bookstore. “We’re so excited about this. We’ve got three children. I’m looking forward to some of the events, particularly for children, and author readings.”

A Warrenton resident and family services director of Saint James’ Episcopal
Church, Ms. Taylor bought a copy of Mr. Noyes’ cookbook.

Emma Atkinson, 31, of Warrenton works as a state department program manager.

Like others, Ms. Atkinson views the store as more than just a purveyor of books — describing it as a “gathering” place that can build and foster a sense of community among readers with all kinds of interests.

“I think this is the most incredible thing” for Old Town and the county, she said. “It beats the heck out of buying them on Amazon.”

Though a “big library user,” Cindy Burbank, who lives near Warrenton, plans to buy a book per month at the shop. “I want to support them.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Ms. Burbank, 68, a retired federal government worker. “I love books, and bookstores are such wonderful environments with wonderful people in them.”

After searching the shelves, Ms. Burbank, who reads about 100 books a year, bought a biography of Theodore Roosevelt and young adult novel recommended by a friend.

“A library or bookstore is like a box of chocolates,” she said. “There are so many wonderful books, it’s so hard to pick one.”

Arthur and Marian Morrill of Woodbridge had heard about The Open Book’s debut and decided to combine a visit before lunch at Claire’s at The Depot, a few blocks away on Third Street.

“We’re bibliophiles and voracious readers,” said Mr. Morrill, 67, chief of staff for The Military Order of The World Wars in Alexandria and a retired Air Force general. “We heard this was opening and made a point to be here.”

Warrenton’s small town charm and their commitment to supporting local businesses also drew them to the bookstore, he said.

“There isn’t a business in the world that didn’t start out small,” Mr. Morrill said. “Plus, it’s fun to see a group of people try to make a difference in a community.”

The couple bought five books, including three for their grandchildren.

“Oh, I hope they survive,” said Bette Sherman, 85, who owned an Old Town shop called Back in the Woods that carried a large assortment of books. “The percentage of profit is so little in books.”

Ms. Sherman plans to do her part to help The Open Book prosper.

“I’m going to volunteer to work here,” said the Gainesville resident, who closed her Warrenton shop in 2004 after a decade in business. “I don’t want to get paid. I don’t need the money. Putting the right book in a child’s hands is so gratifying. I miss it, miss it dreadfully.”

The positive reaction to the bookstore has far exceeded expectations, said Ms. Sirene, 43, curriculum and instruction director for Saint James’ Episcopal Church School in Warrenton. 

“There are so many people pushing for our success,” she added.

In welcoming customers Saturday morning, Ms. Fuller talked about the power of stories and the written word.

As a fourth-grader growing up in Colorado, she had read a young adult novel called “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton.

“It changed me,” recalled Ms. Fuller, 45. “I believe books can change people. I think they can change communities and the world. And I’m so excited, because the response that we’ve had from our community tells me that people are ready to get out there and read and talk about books.

She continued: “I hope that when you want to talk about a book, you have someone nearby to talk about it with. And if you don’t, come and find me, because I’m ready.”

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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Savefauquiercounty2019 · March 19, 2019 at 7:41 pm
We are so excited about your book store!!! Will you please stock your shelves with a book called "Riz's Righteous Reveal?" Sarah Andino, a master level educator at Brumfield Elementary is the author. She is a terrific educator. I am positive she will agree to a book signing. Every student at Brumfield Elementary and their parent may be your best customers. P.S. she holds a writing class after school for fifth graders. Maybe because she is trying her grandest to produce more writers.
Mark House · March 18, 2019 at 2:18 pm
Wonderful to see another bookstore in Town, and such a overwhelming turnout to support the store.
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