Shannon is Leaving Us

When I landed back home in Greensboro nine years ago I was adrift, coming off an unexpected whirlwind of a move and even more unexpectedly pregnant with my first child. I had no idea where my life was headed when I walked into this funky new bookstore that had just opened up on Elm Street. I never expected when I started haunting the cafe tables that Brian and Steve would offer me a job, because who in their right mind offers a job to someone three months pregnant? But that’s the kind of people they are: endlessly generous, and understanding of the fact that sometimes life is messy.

I certainly never imagined that Scuppernong Books would become my home, but in the years since that day that’s what you’ve all become—my home, my community. A place where people care deeply for each other and for the ideas they send out into the world in the form of books. A place where my kids have been welcome since they were infants strapped to my chest while I worked the cash register. My time at Scuppernong has meant more to me than I can ever articulate in a few short paragraphs. I found myself here. This place and these people will always be part of who I am.

When I came on as a co-owner, it was my intention to see Scuppernong Books into the future for years to come. But intentions, like life, can be messy things. They don’t always work out in the ways we think they will. At the end of this summer I will be stepping away from working in the bookstore. This has been a long, difficult decision for me and my family, but despite the heartache that comes with it I know it’s the right one. I hope to continue to support Scuppernong and the community we’ve built here in other ways moving forward, and I know the store remains in more than capable hands.

Goodbye’s suck, so let’s not say them. Let’s say I’ll be seeing you, and until then we’ll find some solace in a good book.




It's hard to find people who are willing to enter burning buildings to search for those who may still be inside quietly reading while the shelves  around them burst into flames. Shannon sat down next to Steve and I as the fire roared around us and together we kept our focus on the job at hand and somehow have kept Scuppernong Books unharmed by the conflagration. Make no mistake, Shannon brings fire with her wherever she goes and her passion and commitment made Scuppernong a better place. And a smarter place. And a more diverse space.
Shannon crafted our children's section into a showcase for the values and commitments of our store. And she turned our children's section into the talk of Finland! Finnish Public Television spent an hour interviewing Shannon because they happened upon the store and were stunned into action by the thoughtful diversity Shannon had curated (look for the documentary in August on your favorite Finnish public television channel). But Shannon's interests went well beyond children's books. As a biologist by training, she informed our science section (and we all loved it when men would try to condescend to Shannon about science issues--fire has many useful purposes).
Famously, Shannon created a romance section because Steve and I were too stupid to make one ourselves. She recreated our fantasy/science fiction collection by updating our understanding of the genre. If you're starting to wonder how the store will survive without her you're not alone. Shannon also modernized our use of our point of sale system, took on scheduling and the difficulties associated with it, ran our staff meetings, and was the one called upon when something mechanical needed analysis and the right tool.
We worked side-by-side for these past nine years. We did what we could for each other's families through the noroviruses and COVID issues and other medical crises. It's hard to find people who you can trust with all of the ways things can go wrong at an independent bookstore. Shannon will leave us a better bookstore than she found and we'll try to carry on without her. Wish us luck.


When Shannon moved to the other side of the counter, from customer to bookseller*, we were still a baby store, more idea than anything. She has been instrumental in Scuppernong becoming the store we are. She has the love and excitement for books I hope to see when I enter an independent bookstore, and a broad area of interest to match.

I love that Shannon has always been up for anything, from constructing a wooden Pete the Cat, to reading on the street for our Banned Books events, to simulating hand puppet sex for our Non-Erotic Reading.
And then there's Dom and Penny. Watching them grow up in the store has been a more invisible aspect of our development, but no less important. It's easy to remember their first months strapped to Shannon, harder to realize that many years have passed and they are fully at home among the books now; they know exactly where to go to find what they want.

Over the years, Shannon has challenged our ideas of what a bookstore could be and how it might support different communities. Those challenges are necessary for an organization to grow. We'll miss her perspective, her humor, her proficiency with tools, her wide range of interests, her fresh vegetables. She will leave a gap that probably won't be fully filled.

I imagine Shannon in a floppy straw hat, knee deep in her garden handing new tomatoes to Dom and Penny, who place them in a basket. I'm sure her life will be much more hectic than that, with soccer games and school plays and sleepovers and trips to the park, but, nevertheless, I'm going to hold on to that romantic image as I wish her well.


* A bookseller at Scuppernong sells books, of course, and also: orders inventory, fills out subject sections, takes calls on everything from communion cups to 15th literature, gives directions, points tourists to interesting sites in Greensboro, introduces authors, comforts authors when attendance is low, devises window displays, writes shelf-talkers, ships returns, gives advice to people who want to self-publish, recommends wine and beer, changes out the wine and beer kegs, handsells books they love, films book reviews, and, hopefully, has fun most of the time.