Donna Everhart

The Magic Of Quail Ridge

If the name, Quail Ridge, doesn’t ring bells, that’s okay.  But, if you are from North Carolina, and you are a writer or author, you know it as one of the key literary spots in the South East.

An independent bookstore, founded almost thirty years ago, in 1984, by Nancy Olson, Quail Ridge is located in my hometown of Raleigh, NC.  I’ve been there many times, years ago when I lived closer, but never did I imagine I’d want to go one day – not to buy a book – but with the hope of reading from one of my own.

Quail Ridge provides a rich and rewarding experience for anyone who visits through it’s various programs, not only for authors and loyal book buying customers, but through music as well.  It has won various awards for. bookselling, bookseller of the year, and excellence in children’s bookselling.

So, why am I blogging about it?  Because it’s being sold.  But that’s actually really good news.  It’s good in that it means the doors aren’t closing as with other indie bookstores.  Instead, Quail Ridge, almost by magic, has managed to thrive, despite competition from online sellers and the big box bookstores.  But we know it isn’t really magic.  It was Nancy Olson’s hard work, her ability at creating an atmosphere that nurtured a community, artists and customers alike.  And because of this success, my dream of publication and doing a reading there, in that place where so many authors I admire, and look up to, have done theirs, can still come true.  (well, I still have to do my part – write the kind of story that will sell!)

In some ways,  I wish I could have been published while she was still there, running things.  When I look at the local authors list and see names like Clyde Edgerton, Kaye Gibbons, Charles Frazier, Jill McCorkle, David Sedaris and many others, I picture Nancy Olson as if she is the proud mother of them all, a nurturing advocate of their work, a person who understands the challenges and hardships that comes with writing.  It would be like getting recognition from the one person who’s experienced the history of all those authors, the person who saw how it began for them, and most importantly, how well it ended.

I am glad though, that it will still be around, albeit with a new owner.  I only hope they keep it just as it is.  Something is working there, something right, and as the old saying goes, when it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

2 thoughts on “The Magic Of Quail Ridge”

  1. In our area it’s R J Julia bookstore in Madison, CT. Been for sale for quite awhile, not sure if it sold or even if it is still on the market. The day last year when it hit the paper that it was going on the block our Betsy did a two weekend seminar. I tried to go but the event was full, Betsy even tried to get me a seat. I still regret that I didn’t storm the doors and stand in the back just to soak up a bit of her smarts.
    It’s a shame how things change, but so is the way of things I guess. They say change is good…who the hell are ‘they’ anyway.

  2. Indeed. “They” tend to know a lot.

    I think every city/state has some special place like R J Julia and Quail Ridge. Getting to see Betsy in person would have been a real treat.

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