Booked on a feeling: Buchanan bookstore aims to foster community, conversation

Published 6:38 am Thursday, February 8, 2024

BUCHANAN — Carla Mayer has had a passion for reading for as long as she can remember. 

A former English and art teacher with years of experience working both in bookstores and publishing, Mayer recently created a space to share her love of reading with the greater Michiana area as a bookstore owner.

“I just got to thinking that I hadn’t had a small business before but all these other things – the books, bringing people together and kind of creating like a hub for the town – I felt like those are all things that I’ve done. In a way, it felt sort of full circle and I was ready to do something a little different.”

Mayer opened Glendora Bookshop last fall for the holiday season before reopening in February. The bookstore, located at 110 E. Front St., Buchanan, is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. It features a wide variety of contemporary and classic books from a diverse range of genres and authors, with plans to eventually add a selection of gently used books as well as magazines and zines.

“We want to strike that balance and make things accessible, affordable and interesting for whoever comes through,” she said. “So far it feels like that’s happened organically.”

Mayer, a Buchanan Township resident, was walking with a friend down Days Avenue in downtown Buchanan when she happened upon a small storefront that caught her attention.

“I thought it was so cute,” she said. “I remember thinking I just wanted to have a store with my dog and play music that I love.”

With that, Mayer began entertaining the thought of starting her own business. While she considered locations throughout southwest Michigan, Mayer knew that she wanted to establish roots in downtown Buchanan. When the space at 110 E. Front St. opened up, Mayer knew the opportunity was too good to pass up.

“I just really like this town,” she said. “Architecturally, it feels pretty special. I think the vibe of most people I encounter has been pretty wonderful and many of the store owners and shopkeepers have been really welcoming. I think for me deciding on downtown Buchanan, it had to do with just wanting to participate more in the place I live and have it be like a place where I wanted to come every day, hopefully other people too, and we kind of build community that way.”

In Glendora Bookshop, Mayer has created a warm, inviting space for community members to peruse through a wide variety of books, strike up conversations or pet her lovable canine companion Opal, who has become a big draw of her own.

“Those of us who love bookstores recognize what bookstores do,” Mayer said. “It’s kind of a peaceful place where you can talk with people and dive in and explore.”

For Mayer, an inviting space also means an inclusive space. Mayer and her assistant Amanda took care to stock the shelves with books from a wide range of voices and backgrounds.

“It’s important to me to have a wide range of representation,” she said. “I think bookstores need to be a place where multiple voices are found. I feel like that’s one of the values I have is to amplify everybody or bring the voices here. I feel like we’ve kind of struck a pretty good balance of things that are popular and things that maybe people might pick up and discover.”

Glendora Bookshop will host its grand opening  Wednesday April 24 through Sunday, April 28, which also corresponds with Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 25. Mayer plans to host book clubs in the near future and is open to hosting book signings and other events. For Mayer, the dream is for Glendora Bookstore to be a resource the whole community can utilize.

“I want it to be a place that feels exciting, interesting and safe for folks to come. I want it to be a hub for gatherings. If people want to use the space for their own book club or other kind of community meetings like I would be open to that.

“I want to become a resource for the town beyond just selling books here. How can we bring people together? How can we give people a chance to come in and be quiet, if that’s what they want, or to have conversations if that’s what they want to do? The vision is to become a pretty vital asset for Buchanan.”