Life has been full of dramatic changes for Ed and Dot Quinn of E. QUINN – BOOKSELLER in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Ed’s transition from New York City’s “Hell’s Kitchen” neighborhood to the presidency of a national finance company was unusual enough, but it was the leap from the executive suite to the counter of a used/rare bookstore in 1999 that was the biggest change. Ed and Dot had retired to the mountains of North Georgia in 1991. When a friend wanted to open a coffee shop in the little tourist town in 1999 and asked if they would like to share the space and open a bookstore, they surprised themselves by saying, “Yes.” With very little retail experience between them (Dot had some experience; Ed had absolutely none) but with a love of books and definite ideas on what a used bookstore should and should not look like, E. QUINN – BOOKSELLER was launched. The assumption was that the coffee shop would be the main attraction bringing customers to the bookstore. Sound familiar? In reality the book store was the draw, and within a few years, the Quinns expanded to fill the space when the coffee shop went out of business.
Since the shop had already developed a reputation for its history sections (especially military history), it seemed that buyers of military history books might be interested in tangible historical items. This idea led the Quinns to add a militaria display case in 2003, specializing in medals, badges, orders, head gear, weapons, and other items from the wars of the 20th century.
Customer interest in medieval history resulted in a new set of historic items. The Quinns added medieval manuscript art to their offerings in 2006. Single leaves out of Bibles, Books of Hours, hymnals and other sources are archivally matted and framed. These leaves have proven to be as popular with world history buffs as medals and weapons have been with military history aficionados. Both manuscript leaves and military items add their own flavors to the unique character of the store.
The shop also has a wine section. No, not books on wine – bottles of wine. What started with wines from a local vintner, “Three Sisters” of Dahlonega, has grown to some fifty wines from around the world.
While the unique items get most of the attention, the shop is very much a small town generalist used bookstore with the usual stock of fiction, non-fiction, art books, cookbooks, poetry, and much more. The store is open year round except for those brief occasions when the Quinns visit their grandchildren. Hours are 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM (or, as Ed puts it, until the last customer leaves), Tuesday through Saturday. The store is closed on Sunday and Monday, so the owners can delude themselves into believing they are really retired.