Susan Thomas is the co-owner and manager of CoffeeTree Books in Morehead, Ky. In honor of Independent Bookstore Day, arts council program assistant, Chelsea Sparks, got to talk to Susan about her bookstore and learn a little bit more about its relationship to the community.
CS: How did you find out about Independent Bookstore Day?
ST: We’re part of a very active regional bookseller association that encouraged us to join in. This will be our third year participating.
CS: What makes Independent Bookstore Day special?
ST: There is special merchandise just for independent bookstores on this one day of the year. We’ve got special editions, coloring books, freebies and stuffed animals that you can only find at bookstores that are participating. The space we’re in used to be a theatre so we’re even doing movie popcorn this year for everyone who stops by.
CS: Why are independent bookstores important to Kentucky?
ST: Diversity in literature. We make sure that book culture endures and that the independent writers and their many different schools of thought are represented. Independent bookstores are where a lot of great writers get their start and it’s our job to offer a way for lesser known authors to connect to audiences.
CS: What do you see as your role in your community?
ST: We are totally a community staple. When the Kim Davis stuff was going on, the media hung out here at the bookstore. We have a big space where people spend time and gather; there’s a coffee shop so they eat and we’ve got music. We moved after the big flood five years ago and it’s been awesome to be closer to the university. We have such a diverse community in Morehead and everyone comes through here looking for different books. Every day is just a big wide world.
CS: What is the best part about owning an independent bookstore?
ST: CoffeeTree is where ideas and people come together. We’ve evolved into being a place we’re really proud of and our community supports us. When new people come into town, the locals bring them here; they think of it as their place and I really appreciate them taking ownership. I sort of laugh every time I hire new people, because I have to let them know that the customers will tell on them if they’re not doing something right. Everyone knows everyone and it is truly a special place to be a part of.