Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe
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- 'My love of books came naturally; it is an inheritance from my grandmother, who always told us that “our only wealth was what we had in our heads, what we learned, because all else can be taken away.” As a Hungarian, she knew this well, having lived through two World Wars, a revolution, and communist rule. I still hear her words and they are my guide in everything I do.
Although the business side of bookselling was new to me, the incessant drive to have my own store finally bore fruit in 1982 when the opportunity arose to play hard at what I believed to be the best thing any one could ask for. I didn’t have a million dollars to invest. Still, to me, my bookstore was 2000 square feet of the most magical space in downtown Asheville, and I named her Malaprop’s.
I wanted Malaprop’s to be a place where poetry matters, where women’s words are as important as men’s, where one is surprised by excellence, where good writing has a home, where I could nurture my addiction to literature, and play, enjoy, and entertain people drawn to quality books.
The abandoned state of downtown (you could walk 3 blocks in any direction before you found a door not nailed down) gave me the chance to invest all my money in inventory, since rent was almost free. My biggest inventory was in poetry and Southern literature. I wrapped every purchased book in the European tradition of craft paper and red ribbon. This was one of my earliest creative innovations: “Malaprop’s wrap.” Continuing this European flavor, we fixed up the basement and turned it into a café. By 1983, we were serving fruit salads, bagels and really good coffee. The café was a great success, despite the steep stairs customers had to negotiate to get down and up.'
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