Local Bookstores Worth a Look
By FAYE HAYMOND
Most people know that downtown Fredericksburg contains three primary sellers of used books: Riverby, The Griffin, and Read All Over. However, not everyone knows the ins and outs of these places and the unique niche each one occupies.
Few bookstores offer mini-Frisbee golf tournaments using a space containing over 30,000 volumes as a course, with different shelves across three floors serving as “holes” where you must toss your tiny frisbee.
Riverby is by far the oldest of the establishments, founded by Paul Cymrot in 1996.
According to Riverby employee, Eric Marth, it was named after a nearby mansion owned by famous naturalist John Burroughs.
Though Riverby offers a wide variety of genres, they try especially hard to buy titles from students and have a good supply of inexpensive classics on hand.
The Griffin is a daintier sort of place, incorporating a coffee shop and pretty courtyard for sipping coffee and reading. Owner Kerri Corsano opened it in May 2006.
The Griffin sells both used and new books, hosts book clubs and displays of local artists, and sells jewelry and greeting cards.
While business remains business, both she and coworker Eileen Boyd affirmed that the bookstores coexist happily and do their best to cooperate to build a thriving intellectual and commercial environment.
Newest to the community is Read All Over, from the old joke, “What’s black and white and read all over?”
It originated when Riverby ran out of room for books, said Jym Horak, longtime staff member at both Riverby and Read All Over.
Even with two locations, the owners of Riverby also have roughly 20,000 titles at any given time for sale online.
Read All Over, unlike its parent shop, has made itself known as a space for classes and other events for people to meet and share. Read All Over also features yoga classes taught by former UMW professor Steve Watkins as well as life drawing classes and live bands.
Though Read All Over is physically closer to UMW than the other two, employee Anna Lincoln said that relatively few students come by.
To lure them in, the place allows a 25 percent discount to students with ID. The Griffin and Riverby have 10 percent discounts.
When asked what they wished more people knew about their stores, the ladies at The Griffin mentioned their willingness to order books on request and have them within three to five days.
Marth wanted greater awareness that Riverby will not buy back used textbooks.
Lincoln thought it should be better publicized that on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Read All Over does not close until 10 pm.
Downtown Fredericksburg is not the largest area for multiple business ventures, and yet each of these has had room to flourish and fulfill their own facets of what a bookstore can do and be.
No cutthroat attitudes or sense of competition mars the quiet rustle of paper…unless a stray mini-Frisbee knocks into one of the stacks, that is.