Real books. New books, the kind with covers that feel slightly grainy and have freshly cut pages. In an era when thriving independent bookstores seem just slightly more plausible than a cow jumping over the moon, The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, VT is celebrating its 25th year.
A quarter century ago, Linda Ramsdell opened her tiny bookshop with a gigantic name in the corner of a knitting shop situated in a former fire station. From there it hopscotched around town, until for fifteen years it took up residence in a former bank (where they stored their folding chairs in the old safe).
Then, in mid January three winters ago, with the help of 80 folks who turned out in 20 below zero weather, the Galaxy moved to their current digs on Main Street in Hardwick, right next to the Buffalo Mountain Food Coop. The hardy volunteers formed a brigade to bring the books down the street from the old store to the new.
Why does the Galaxy continue to shine so brightly? Sandy Scott, who has helped run the store for 13 years says, “I think people want a downtown with character and people they can connect with.” The Galaxy, which is now at the center of Hardwick’s universe of restaurants, clothing boutiques, library and bakery, hosts readings by stellar writers. Novelist Howard Frank Mosher launches all his books here; Yankee writer and author Ben Hewitt, essayist Garret Keizer and poets Leland Kinsey, David Budbill and Galway Kinnell have all repeatedly packed the store with fans, as well.
During the quieter winter season, The Galaxy hosts “Stories and Stitches” where customers are encouraged to bring in a hands -on project to tackle while listening to a story. This past winter one guy brought his mending, another lady assembled Valentines for her grandchildren, others brought socks- in- progress and half finished sweaters, as they each took turns reading from short story collections, essay collections, and even a picture book.
Glowing on the wall above the books and customers, a vibrant mural depicts this brilliant fixture of Hardwick’s community. Painted by Tara Goreau, the mural features the migration from the old store to the new, and the cats Scout and Jem (that were adopted by a poet-customer), as well as the neighboring businesses, and the changing seasons, a visual testimony to how over- the -moon lucky we are, and how thoroughly this independent local bookstore continues to illuminate our life.