Shop local: New Dominion Bookshop event highlights the value of independent bookstores
By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Shakespeare, Poe, Dickinson, the Bronte sisters and many other famous authors will be at New Dominion Bookshop on Saturday, April 24, for Independent Bookstore Day.
Actually, their books and cardboard cut-outs will be, not the authors themselves, but customers are invited to celebrate with masks and social distancing for this year’s seventh annual event downtown.
“The original idea is basically to throw a big party in the shop for the community,” said New Dominion Bookshop’s Marketing & Communications Director Sarah Crossland.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting this year’s event, just as last year, plans were revised to still celebrate safely.
The traditional party in the Rose Garden, which began with a tea party theme seven years ago, according to Crossland, is not planned this year, but regular and new customers are invited to visit the garden.
Crossland said the roses are starting to bloom.
“But I think two years ago the roses were in full bloom, and it was gorgeous,” she said.
The Rose Garden is on the Atlas Obscura’s list of hidden gems because it is tucked away down an alley on the Historic Downtown Mall.
“This year, we’re going to open up the Rose Garden all day and set up these literary cut-outs,” Crossland said. Visitors will have opportunities to take selfies with cardboard cut-outs of literary legends including William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and the three Bronte sisters.
Two years ago, the last Rose Garden party before the pandemic, cutouts of writers Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson made an appearance.
Another highlight for this year’s socially-distanced event is a Tote Bag Special.
Crossland said the book shop has tote bags and T-shirts with the name New Dominion Book Shop regularly available for customers, but on April 24, customers who spend more than $50 will receive a special tote bag commemorating this year’s event.
This year’s event will also feature exclusive items that are only available for purchase in independent bookstores. In early April, Crossland said, the bookstore receives exclusive items such as literary onesies and signed books.
“Just all kinds of book nerd items that will be exclusive to independent bookstores,” Crossland said.
Independent Bookstore Day is “one single day, but we definitely encourage people to shop local all the time.”
Customers are encouraged to window shop and visit the Rose Garden anytime, and to tag the book shop on social media. Before April 24, the book shop will share favorite posts on Facebook as a preview of the upcoming event.
New Dominion opened in 1924 and has been in a few locations on the downtown mall.
“We’ve been around a super long time,” Crossland said.
The shop, which sells new books, has been in its current location at 404 E. Main Street since 1990, and the Rose Garden was planted in the 1990s.
New Dominion’s mission is “to be a community bookstore.” In normal times, Crossland said, the bookshop is a place to gather.
“We want to be more than just a shop,” she said.
Crossland said that in a non-pandemic year she plans 150 events.
“The past year — has been challenging for the shop, but we’ve had such an incredible amount of support from the community. We’re very grateful for that,” Crossland said.
The bookshop welcomes visitors on April 24 for the celebration from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but will also accept orders through email at email@example.com, or phone orders at 434-295-2552.
Curbside pickup and free local delivery within five miles of the shop will also be available on April 24.
For more information, visit ndbookshop.com.