By ABIGAIL BUCHHOLZ
Riverby Books, located at 805 Caroline Street, has become a popular destination for University of Mary Washington students. Only a short walk from the south end of campus, Riverby has garnered a reputation in the campus community as being a place of refuge from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In targeting its broad audience, Riverby has gone above and beyond filling its store with interesting finds for everyone. It’s shelves are overflowing with books ranging from cupcake cookbooks to a $400 signed addition of Ron Chernow’s “Alexander Hamilton.”
Reilly Cundiff, a 2015 Mary Washington graduate, has been working at the store for five years, ever since she first started attending the University. Cundiff enjoys the warm and inviting community that the bookstore has created.
“We had someone in here the other day who went to Mary Washington and she said Riverby was her refuge the entire time she was there,” said Cundiff, “So even though she doesn’t live there anymore she comes back into town to visit the store.”
Working at Riverby Books also provided Cundiff with many fond memories, specifically a tradition centered around the annual Christmas parade.
“It’s a nice bonding experience for the people who work here and it’s a good reminder about our place in the community,” said Cundiff, “We always have a party here for employees and friends of the store. We all get together and enjoy eating together and we share this really warm space for a few hours.”
For some Mary Washington students, Riverby Books acts as an introduction to the Fredericksburg community. Freshman Bernadette D’Auria was introduced to the bookstore when she first visited the campus.
“I fell in love with it because it reminded me of this really small owned bookstore in my hometown,” she said, “and it was kind of a comfort place for me when I didn’t know the different areas on campus.”
Riverby Books has also proven itself unique because of its diverse offerings and inviting layout, which focuses on generating a distinctive atmosphere. Freshman Rebecca Kellam enjoys visiting the inviting store.
“The colors, the decorations, and the books make you feel like this is a place where you can just wander, whether that be in a good book or just exploring all the nooks and crannies of the store itself,” Kellam said.
D’Auria especially enjoyed the magical feelings the store induced.
“It felt more like a fantastical library of sorts because of the way the books were displayed and everything,” she said, “There isn’t really any specific one title that’s currently being promoted. It’s kind of just like every time you go in there you get to explore what’s there and what’s come in. It’s really fun, it’s like an adventure.”
Another aspect of Riverby Books that sets it apart from others in the area is its open and comfortable layout with an abundance of seating. Sophomore English and creative writing major Emma Snyder enjoys the atmosphere that she feels is conducive to being able to sit and read or write.
“It is very comfortable and feels like a bookstore should,” she said.
Freshman Christine Wehner visits Riverby Books for the ambiance brought on by the comfy chairs, old posters, and creaky wooden floors.
“It’s the opposite of commercial,” she said, “It feels almost rustic, like stepping into the past. There’s this one window seat especially that I could sit and read in forever. It’s like taking a break from the rest of the world.”
Among the classical literature in the upstairs section D’Auria found the most joy.
“I don’t know but the way that the books smell in that specific section is really comforting for some reason,” said D’Auria, “It reminds me of why I want to be an English major because I’m looking at all these books that I’m going to have to read.”
Riverby Books also offers several benefits to UMW students, including a student discount and the ability to sell back their textbooks. In addition to benefiting students, Riverby Books is also working to assist workers furloughed by the government shutdown. Any furloughed worker can visit the store and take a book and pay the store back when they can.