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5 min read ·

North Hills needed a bookstore, and Raleigh’s own nationally renowned Quail Ridge Books needed a new home. Thus, what we consider to be a match made in literary heaven happened. Quail Ridge Books moved from its longtime location on Wade Avenue to its temporary location at North Hills in March and then to its permanent location in July. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome them to the North Hills family! Not just because a book store was the one type of critical retailer we were missing, but because the local, welcoming atmosphere at Quail Ridge Books fits right in with what we’re trying to do here at North Hills. Kick back, relax, and stay a while. All are welcome!

So that you can get to know the newest member of our family a little bit better, we had a chance to ask Quail Ridge owner Lisa Poole about her move to North Hills and why there are some aspects she readily admits she likes better than her old location.

For anyone who has never been into your store—either the old location or the new one, how would you describe it?

Lisa Poole:  Inviting. When a person walks in the store, the staff is right there, up front, to welcome him or her. And we have the friendliest staff around. They actually won a book association award for it last year.

Familiar. People used to say when they walked in the old store it was like coming home. I hope those same people and new customers will come to feel that way about the new Quail Ridge Books. I tried to incorporate some of the memories of the old store. For example, the fireplace and comfy chairs, important literary books, a large display of Southern and North Carolina literature, and the pictures in the bathrooms. Those are a must-see.

How does being locally owned help to set Quail Ridge apart from other book stores?

LP: I think North Carolinians are more aware of the “Shop Local” way of life. People come to our store because of its history, because it’s been around for more than 30 years. It’s a destination place. The box stores don’t have true booksellers who care about their customers and what they are reading. We keep up with new authors, new releases and make sure that every kind of book can be found easily on our shelves.

The store recently moved from Wade Avenue to the Lassiter District of North Hills. What were some of the challenges with that move and how have you overcome them?

LP: I’d say the number one challenge has been leaving that space behind. Customers and authors alike have great memories of that space. But people who shopped at our past location are coming into the new store. They like it…a lot. Secondly, we moved into a temporary location with 3,000 square feet. There were a lot of trips back and forth to our storage space for books to put on our shelves. But I thank Kane Realty for letting us use that location. It kept us in business. Lastly, waiting for the new store to be open for business. I wanted everything to be just right. Well, things are never just right, but we were pretty close.

Is there anything you like better about the physical space of your new location?

LP: Yes! I love the new children’s section. The ceilings are taller, and there is more wall space so we have it full of beautiful books as well as magical things to look at. Because of the extra tall ceilings in the other half of our store, we were able to put in a mezzanine. Staff offices are upstairs, and customers can look down on the first floor. It’s quite an impressive sight.

Why did you choose North Hills as the new location for your bookstore?

LP: Well, I wanted to stay in the same general vicinity as the last store. I didn’t want to go too far away because I knew we’d lose customers. I looked at several spots, but North Hills was the best choice. I grew up in North Hills so it was perfectly natural for me to come back. And everyone at Kane Realty has been wonderful to work with. They made us feel welcome from the beginning.

Have most of your previous customers followed you to your new location, and have you been able to attract new customers because of your move?

LP: My employees tell me that most of our previous customers are coming in. I even see those who said they wouldn’t follow us trickling in. And that makes me feel good. We are attracting new customers too. We are very close to six schools, so we see a lot of children and teens. And, lots of young families with strollers. We love it when the people in the apartments around or above us come in. I mean, we’re neighbors!

You took over ownership of Quail Ridge Books in 2013 from original owner Nancy Olson. What has been the biggest benefit to taking over such a well-known and established business?

LP: The biggest benefit is not having to start a business from scratch. Quail Ridge Books was a well-oiled machine. Nancy put it on the map, and I quickly realized lots of other bookstores in the U.S knew of Quail Ridge and Nancy Olson.

What has been the biggest challenge?

LP: I’d have to say stepping into the shoes of a well-loved icon. Everybody who knew Nancy had a story to tell. Great literature was her love, and her store was filled to the brim with it. I’m happy to say it still is. And it has taken me some time to figure out what my role in the store is. I’ve still got schooling to do for a little while.

Quail Ridge isn’t just a book store; it is a gathering place. Why is that type of atmosphere so important to its success?

LP: I think Nancy played a big part in that. She encouraged people to come in and browse, take their time. And of course our author events are what we’re known for. Before we moved, we were doing 250 author events a year. That’s a lot! Buy a book. Come in to a welcoming place. Have a seat, and listen to a great author. And while you’re there meet a new friend or spend time with a lifetime friend.

What are some of the ways Quail Ridge is active in community outreach, and why do you believe that’s an important component of your business model?

LP: It was always important to Nancy to be active in the community. She played a role in the startup of “Shop Local.” Several North Carolina literacy programs have benefited from Quail Ridge Books. I hope to reach out to even more organizations.

What does Quail Ridge Books mean to you personally, and what do you hope it means to others?

LP: As corny as it may sound, when I walk through the front door of Quail Ridge Books I feel like I’m home and all my friends are waiting there to play. I want everyone to feel that way. The author Lauren Myracle said, “I live in my own little world. But it’s ok. They know me here.”

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