In celebration of the store’s 38th birthday, Chapter One owners Shawn Wathen and Mara Lynn Luther have specially marked 38 books around the Hamilton, MT, store, and if a customer happens to buy one of the books this week he or she gets 38 percent off. A nice surprise, that’d be. They’ve also got a big table of sale books.
Despite the sale fun and the grins on the owners’ faces, Wathen told the Ravelli Republic last week that customers walk in with a certain amount of mournfulness. “People come in – it’s odd, but they’ll come in and they’ll talk like they’re in a funeral parlor,” Wathen says. Some of this is doomsaying about the future of books—and about independents in general, but Wathen remains optimistic. “For those people that like print books, and I consider myself one of those, it’s not just reading words on a page. It’s the whole experience. It’s the tactile nature,” he says. “People love how books smell. They love how they feel.”
The article attributes the store’s longevity to the current and previous owners’ business sense and to its relationship with its community, both by catering to customers’ literary tastes and by donating to local causes. “I think that the community recognizes that and supports Chapter One like we support the community, and it’s been a great symbiotic relationship,” Wathen says.
We wish our friends in Hamilton another happy 38 years.