After more than 22 years, Cicely McCulloch has sold Diana’s Bookstore.
McCulloch moved the bookstore to The Liberty in May of 2014 a year after completing the renovation of the old tobacco warehouse. “I knew I wasn’t giving 100 percent to the bookstore,” she said. “For 22 years, I did, but these last two years I haven’t been able to.”
That’s why McCulloch, who also serves as an Elkin town commissioner, made the very difficult decision to sell it so she could focus her energy and time on booking the huge banquet hall and taking care of the rest of The Liberty. McCulloch is also part of the new Angry Troll microbrewery located in the lower level.
McCulloch named the bookstore after her first child and opened it on her 1st birthday on April 3, 1993. Diana is now 23 and lives in Atlanta.
The new owners, Carrie and Scotty Vestal of Elkin, plan to change the name from Diana’s Bookstore and Coffee Shop to Diana’s Bookstore and More. The Vestals moved books and other contents of the store to its new location at 126 W. Main St., located beside of Royall’s Soda Shoppe, on Wednesday and plan to announce their grand opening date and more details about the store within a week.
“I’m so excited I don’t even know what to say,” Carrie Vestal said. “Since I’m a fourth-grade teacher, of course, books are my thing.
“The reason I’m keeping the name,” she said, “is Cicely opened this on her little girl’s 1st birthday, and we are very family-oriented as well. I don’t want her dream and her love to be lost.”
McCulloch said Diana cried when she told her she was selling the store, but was happy to find out her name was going to remain. Her mother shared what her daughter posted on her Facebook page Wednesday about the sale.
“As much as it breaks my heart,” Diana wrote in the post, “I know this was for the best … I’m so grateful that the store will stay downtown and will keep my name,” she continued, “makes my heartbreak and I’m sure my mom’s heartbreak not so bad … Incredibly grateful that I will always be Diana from Diana’s Bookstore.”
Her mother posted underneath, thanking everyone who had supported her through the years, including her best customers, Anne Gulley and Debbie Carson. She also thanked the Yadkin County and Wilkes County school systems which “trusted me to get the best price …
“I say with sadness that I am ending a special time in my life. I have made so many friends. I will miss the coffee. I will miss my customers and I will miss very much my great employees … All made me and the bookstore successful.”
During the store’s closing on Wednesday, McCulloch said she was heartbroken. “Those who hugged me left crying,” she said. “Those who didn’t hug me left because they were going to cry, so it’s not a joyous time for me.”
McCulloch’s very last sale was to Peter Graham, who she said has been an awesome customer. “He just bought one book, the smallest purchase he has ever made,” she said.
McCulloch, who had worked with Surry Gift Shop for a while years ago and enjoyed the retail end of it, said she opened Diana’s because there wasn’t a bookstore in downtown Elkin and she felt like there should be. The store was located in three different buildings before The Liberty.
Diana’s Bookstore started out at 127 W. Main St., where it remained for three years. After that, McCulloch moved it into the Brushy Mountain Winery building for eight years and the Ivy Ridge space after that for 10 years before moving it down Main Street as part of The Liberty.
McCulloch said she will always treasure her memories of the bookstore, including Diana walking after school from Elkin Elementary and Elkin Middle to make smoothies for all the students who dropped by. Her son, Coley, also spent time at the bookstore.
Among her favorite memories are of children coming to the bookstore for the new Harry Potter releases.
Coley, who is 20 and a student at Appalachian State, and Diana, both helped their mother with the store’s annual audit on Jan. 1. “Every book got touched, counted, scanned,” she said. “It’s going to be weird not having to worry about that. We’ll get to just spend time together.”
Several longtime customers dropped by during the store’s last day in The Liberty, including McCulloch’s best customers, Gulley and Carson. “They deserve a huge thanks for their support,” she said.
McCulloch said she also appreciated the moving tribute to Diana’s Bookstore by WIFM radio announcer Joel Hoover.
Kathy Chaffin can be reached at 336-258-4035.