Blame Meg Ryan. In the 1998 romantic comedy blockbuster movie You’ve Got Mail, Ryan’s character owned a beautiful little bookstore called The Shop Around the Corner. Artist and business owner Tracey Prator loved the movie, but more than that, she loved that little bookstore, and that’s when the dream of owning one took hold. For nearly 30 years now, she has thought about it, wanted it…and finally, she has it.
In summer of 2019, Tracey opened Shreve Towne Studio 512 at 512 Crockett Street. Initially, the two-story building shared a space with Shreve Towne Barber Shop and a couple of insurance offices upstairs. It was a great space for her shop of locally-sourced art items, crafts, and Queen Bee Hippie honey products. The space, which had for years been the offices of the Communications Workers of America Local 3411, seemed to overnight go from dark and drab to eclectic, bohemian and charming.
When the insurance agents upstairs moved out, Tracey decided it was time to act on her bookstore dreams. She looked at the second floor and loved it. “I had no plan,’ she told me. ‘None.’ Sometimes, no plan is the best plan. She wasn’t sure how she would pay the rent and how the business model would work, but the space called to her, especially the two deeply-inset front windows, window seats to the world outside. Those were her nooks. They would become a place that she would sit and read, think, plan, or just watch the world roll by.
Over the past few weeks, she has taken a plain and colorless space and created a warm, colorful and inviting place, complete with a television showing old movies, a record player with vintage LPs and comfy seating. All the books and art are for sale, as are snacks from The Twisted Brownie and locally-sourced coffees from Special Reserve Coffee Roasters. She envisions the space being used by by book clubs and writing groups and has already been contacted by two local writing clubs. All the money she makes in the Book Nook will go back into it, to pay the rent, to purchase new books, to pay artists, to continue to make the space appealing to visitors.
There is a problem, though. The books sing a loud and persistent siren song and the space is so relaxing that Tracey often has to force herself to leave it. The good news is that as additional events are planned, Tracey will be able to spend more time there. Already being discussed are a retro 1950s/60s underground art/Beatnik poetry event, an Ekphrastic writing event featuring works in the gallery downstairs, and other reader/writer gatherings.
“This will be a place where people can come read and buy real books, not just Kindles,” says Tracey. “I don’t want books to become a lost thing like photographs. Photos went away with our smart phones. Books need to be with us forever.”
Visit the Book Nook and Shreve Towne Studio 512 Tuesday- Friday, 10 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. Special events can be scheduled after hours and on weekends by calling Tracey or Maggie at the the shop at 318-393-7645.
Book Nook Book Chat
I asked Tracey her responses to the following:
What’s your favorite book? A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
What book have you read more than once? Granny Dan by Danielle Steel
What book was made into the best movie? The Bridges of Madison County
What book-inspired movie missed the mark? Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
If you could only read one book for the rest of the your life? Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Who is your favorite author? Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen