“I want to give back to Goose Creek what it gave to me,” says VaLinda Miller, the owner of Turning Page Bookshop.
Those are the words Miller lives by, not only as an independent bookstore owner, but as a book lover herself.
Turning Page Bookshop is the newest addition to independently owned bookstores in the Charleston area, and the second African-American-owned bookstore in South Carolina, alongside the Malcolm X Center for Self Determination in Greenville.
Before Turning Page Bookshop opened its doors on June 1 of this year, Miller commuted to and from Seneca, S.C. at the former bookstore she owned, The Booksmith.
When she wasn’t in Seneca at The Booksmith, Miller was at her other job in the Walmart gas station on St. John Avenue in Goose Creek. Across the street, she had her eye on a little spot at the end of a strip mall, a former eyeglass store next to China Gourmet.
“I’d always look at that spot and think to myself, ‘What a cute little place.'”
On March 15, Miller found out that The Booksmith had to close its doors in the beginning of April. The news was disheartening, but it didn’t discourage her.
When she knew she was leaving Seneca, Miller had applied for the empty space across the street from her second job. “I figured I had nothing to lose and lots of time to find another place, so I applied,” she says.
On March 20, she was accepted, and the cute little spot she had daydreamed about became hers.
Inspired by Dave Ramsey and his method of paying and keeping off debt, borrowing money wasn’t an option for Miller. When she knew The Booksmith was closing, she called her longtime manager, Arrylee Satterfield, and told her to sell everything and put out the ‘going out of business’ signs.
Using the money she had saved up and the last bit from The Booksmith, Miller built Turning Page from scratch. Brand new bookshelves and furniture were purchased from IKEA, the walls were repainted a bright yellow, and a small section of the store is being built for what she calls an Internet Cafe, where customers can relax and read.
Within two months, the store was ready for business.
When entering Turning Page, a table in the center is filled with best-sellers like Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness by Jennifer Berry Hawes and Becoming by former First Lady Michelle Obama, and the walls are lined with bookshelves, each dedicated to its own genre: Bibles, Christian books, local authors, fiction, YA novels, cookbooks, and more.
Though a lot of the furniture was new and the walls were repainted, Miller kept several former designs from the previous tenant. The wall moldings that framed the styles of glasses were kept, lining the top of the bookshelves for an added aesthetic, and the mirrors were kept to keep customers engaged with the books and themselves.
“People can come in with their laptops and work on a project or paper, or can pick a book from a shelf and start reading,” says Miller. “I want people to come here and feel comfortable and enjoy themselves. I want them to feel at home.”
There’s more to the store than the main room, however.
Past the checkout and the cafe is a small hallway with three rooms, where Miller utilized the old offices for themed rooms, as well as a coffee bar, where Miller and her longtime friend and manager, Satterfield, make a mean espresso.
“I love murder mysteries — Agatha Christie’s my favorite — and I wanted to highlight one of my favorite genres with a Murder Mystery Room,” says Miller.
The lighting in the room is dim and the walls are painted a dark blue to set the mood for readers who want a little more mystery in their lives.
In addition to the coffee bar and the Murder Mystery Room, Miller has dedicated a room to kids. Inside, the main bookshelf is a bright yellow, much like the walls in the main room for the store, and filled with age-appropriate books for kids, including The BFG by Roald Dahl, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss.
This is only the beginning of what Turning Page has to offer. Their inventory is continuously being filled, and Miller has lots of plans for the community, including book signings, poetry nights, and even adult and teen book clubs.
If you wanted a reason to check out the store, Turning Page Bookshop is hosting an open mic poetry night on July 10 at 5 p.m.
Turning Page Bookshop is located on 216 St. James Ave. #F. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sundays.