I was on Long Island when I received an e-mail from Darielle Linehan, owner of The Ivy Bookshop, saying that she plans to retire in 2012 and wants to sell the store. I have been in denial ever since. Say it ain’t so!
My first thought was, who could take it over and match the quality of service and books that are the hallmark of the Ivy? Linehan has created an atmosphere and benchmark of service that is hard to achieve.
I immediately thought of her knowledgeable staff. Any number of them could take up the reins and emulate the owner, for whom many have worked almost since its beginnings 10 years ago.
To lose this stellar independent bookstore in the Lake Falls Village shopping center would be a huge loss to Baltimore. The store is at a crossroads of Baltimore City and County. Customers run into friends from different neighborhoods. The sense of community created over a decade by the omnipresence of its savvy, personable owner and book-loving staff is rare.
I can never go there for just a quick pickup of a book. Always there is someone I know talking to Linehan, a member of her staff or another customer about a book I don’t know. Before long, three or four customers are engaged in the conversation, each offering more recommendations. The conversations do not stop with books. They include travel and restaurant tips, as well as child, elder care, school, college, plant and pet advice, plus the latest goings-on in town.
Customers share family news with an always-professional staff. The fabric of community strengthens. My most recent trip to the Ivy speaks volumes (no pun intended). Near closing time on a Sunday, I stood at the counter buying a book and chatting with a woman who’s worked there for years. Someone behind me called my name. I turned around and saw someone I’ve known for 51 years.
She was wearing a pink floral silk scarf and had lost at least 20 pounds. It was almost 100 degrees outside, so we went over to the farthest corner of the children’s section and sat in two small chairs. She told me all that had happened since April.
Suddenly, she looked at her watch. It was 15 minutes past closing time. We stood to discover we were the only people there, except the woman behind the counter. As my friend left the store, I paid for my book, and the woman simply said, “She’s a lovely person.” All who know her use that very word to describe my friend.
When does an exchange like that happen on Amazon? May someone with Darielle Linehan’s depth of knowledge and sense of community surface soon to carry on her fine work.