Medina book store reopens with new look, owner

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2021 at 9:32 am

Julie Berry, acclaimed author from Medina, sees resurgence in independent book stores

Photos by Tom Rivers: Julie Berry is shown late Saturday afternoon after a busy first day at the Author’s Note, the former Book Shoppe at 519 Main St.

MEDINA – It was Friday night when Julie Berry posted on social media that Saturday would be opening day for Author’s Note.

She was expecting a soft opening on Saturday, with some people popping in to see the remodel of the former Book Shoppe.

But longtime customers and the Medina community wouldn’t have a tepid debut for store. There was a line waiting for outside the Author’s Note when it opened at 10 a.m. at 519 Main St. and the people kept coming throughout the day.

“I hoped for a good day but it was an extraordinary day,” Berry said on Saturday afternoon. “We’ve had a phenomenal first day.”

The Author’s Note has completed the full remodel of the store. The back section, where the Book Shoppe used to sell toys and games, is expected to open in about three weeks as an area for children.

It has been an ambitious remaking of the space, with two drop-down ceiling taken down to showcase the original tin ceiling, which needed repairs, sanding and painting.

The linoleum and floors, and the sub-flooring also were removed. That revealed a hardwood floor that was sanded after the staples and nails were pulled up.

Berry said the floor and ceiling makes the store feel bigger and taller.

“This has been a dream to have a book store,” Berry said.

The Author’s Note team includes, from left: Erica Caldwell, book buyer; Julie Berry, owner; and Olivia Marchese, book seller.

She bought the business from Gloria and Fred Fierch. They operated for the Book Shoppe for about a year. Susan Phillips previously owned the store for 21 years.

Berry said the Book Shoppe has a clear following in the community. She expects those core customers to keep coming back, and she will be working to draw in new people.

Julie Berry is an acclaimed author of 25 books, including several award-winning youth adult novels. She is holding her latest book, Cranky Right Now, which was released on May 11. This photo shows the tin ceiling and hardwood floors that are now visible as part of the store’s remodel.

Besides selling books in the store and online through the Author’s Note website, the inventory will include toys, puzzles, crafts and science-based projects for children. And Author’s Note will continue to offer a customer favorite: coffee.

Berry is a 1991 Medina grad who has written 25 books, with some under a pen name. She has won numerous prestigious awards.

Berry, her husband Phil and their children were living in Los Angeles last year when her sister told her the Book Shoppe was for sale. Berry welcomed the chance to come back to her hometown, and own a book store. She moved back to Medina in November.

Phil and many of Berry’s family and friends have tackled the renovations with zest.

“I see Author’s Note creating a community for book lovers and connecting readers to their favorite authors,” Berry said. “I think of all books as being an ‘author’s note’ to the world. I hope this community will see this book store as my love note to Medina.”

She has an office downstairs and will continue to write two to three hours a day. She also will spend several hours in the store with customers.

Her cousin Erica Caldwell is a key part of the operation, as the book buyer. Caldwell owned her own book store in Batavia, Present Tense.

Berry said many independent book stores are seeing a resurgence with Covid-19 restrictions giving people more time to read. The pandemic has also made many people value small town merchants more, including the locally owned bookstores.

“The bookstores that succeed are the ones that have created a community with their customers,” she said.