Founder's retirement means new chapter for Quail Ridge Books

Posted November 14, 2012 2:43 p.m. EST
Updated November 16, 2012 11:22 a.m. EST

Longtime owner Nancy Olson plans to sell her popular independent Raleigh bookstore, Quail Ridge Books & Music, and retire.

— Popular independent bookstore Quail Ridge Books & Music is for sale, as owner Nancy Olson seeks to retire and spend more time with her husband, family and friends.

Quail Ridge celebrated its 28th birthday Wednesday, the day after Olson told her staff of her decision.

“Of course, I will have a lot more time to read without the responsibility of running the store. I’ll always be Quail Ridge’s No. 1 customer. I still expect a discount,” she said with a laugh.

She said she is committed to finding the right match with a new owner, someone who is as much an avid reader and book lover as she is, and she is prepared to serve as an adviser to ensure a smooth transition.

“The key ingredients are all in place: a loyal customer base, a dedicated, hard-working staff and a stellar reputation with the publishing community,” she said.

Located in the Ridgewood Shopping Center on Wade Avenue in west Raleigh, Quail Ridge had about $3 million in sales last year and stocks about 70,000 titles. Its staff of 24 full- and part-time people averages 15 years of experience selling books.

The store has a dedicated following among Triangle bibliophiles.

"It's a pleasure. I love coming here," said Lynn Dohner, who drove from Pittsboro on Wednesday to browse.

Like other customers, Dohner said she was shocked about the impending change of ownership.

"I just hope that whoever buys this keeps it as it is. This is truly a treasure," she said.

Olson said she hopes ownership is the only change at Quail Ridge after she leaves.

"I think it would be very wise of (the new owner) to continue what we've done because we've been so successful. So, that's what my wish is," she said.

She opened Quail Ridge because she couldn't find a bookstore she liked when she moved to Raleigh. The store has nurtured scores of North Carolina writers, including Lee Smith, Kaye Gibbons and Jill McCorkle, and attracted celebrities such as former President Jimmy Carter and radio host Garrison Keillor for book readings and signings.

"Her idea was to have a place that was really locally oriented but had the best national and local fiction, nonfiction – just really good books," said Sarah Goddin, the store's general manager. "We just really enjoy talking books between the staff and the customers."

The store was named Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year in 2001, and it also has won the Pannell Award for Excellence in Children’s Bookselling and the Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling.