Main Street Books’ new owner, Emily Hall, intends to maintain the St. Charles, Mo., bookstore as is, she told PW in an interview on Wednesday afternoon. Vicki Erwin, 62, sold the store to the Hall family earlier this week, to retire from bookselling, and Hall will be taking over on February 14.
“I’m going to focus on learning to do things by the book,” Hall said, “I don’t want to throw anybody off kilter by changing things.” Hall, 25, who currently works in the financial industry, will become a full-time bookseller in the 1,800-square-foot retail space on Feb. 15. Her last day at her current position is Feb. 14. When asked if Main Street Books will continue to boast a strong children’s section, which is Erwin’s trademark, Hall responded in the affirmative. She will also continue to focus on fiction and regional books, especially books on the 1804 Lewis and Clark Expedition, which started out from the area. If there’s one genre she is committed tol building up after taking over buying responsibilities, Hall said, it’s Young Adult fiction.
“YA is probably my favorite genre,” Hall explained, “I myself am a YA reader.”
Although Hall does not have previous bookselling experience, she describes herself as a voracious reader who grew up in a home where her mother read aloud “in the hallway” to the entire family every night. It was her mother’s idea initially, Hall disclosed, to buy the bookstore from Erwin. Hall’s father, Andrew, an engineer, and her mother, Ellen, a teacher, are long-time customers of Main Street Books. They will be silent partners in the venture. Hall has not decided yet whether she will attend BEA this spring.
Erwin will guide Hall through the transition process "until she knows everything she needs to know," Erwin said during the interview. That includes establishing accounts, restocking the store’s inventory, and learning how to maneuver around Edelweiss. Since Main Street Books, which was founded in 1993, is a longtime bookstore with a good record, Erwin explained, some publishers are allowing Hall to simply take over existing accounts.
“I knew to ask for that,” Erwin said with a laugh.
“I’m thrilled and terrified in equal measure,” Hall said, “I hope I can continue [Vicki’s] legacy honorably.”