Well before Starbucks became the iconic gathering place, Karen Davis and Thelma Kidd of Nashville envisioned an inviting gathering place with plenty of informal seating space, and the availability of a warm beverage or snack. But at the heart of this gathering place would be books. And magazines. And special places for children to gather to hear stories and gain a greater appreciation for the value of reading. Davis and Kidd couldn’t have imagined how wildly successful the open, airy bookstore with its sky-lit, two story atrium in the heart of Grace’s Plaza would become. The small café eventually grew into the adjacent atrium. The store was expanded to provide a larger children’s area and a larger area for periodicals and newspapers. A new space was created for storytelling and bookselling.
During its 30 years in Nashville, Davis-Kidd Booksellers became a local institution. It was a place where both nationally-known and local authors held book-signings. A generation grew up searching for the perfect book, meeting their friends, even stealing their first kiss among the bookshelves – and then bringing their own children to experience the same.
Nashvillians are keenly aware of how the Davis-Kidd Bookseller story ends. The darling of local bookstores closed its doors one last time on December 29, 2010. Some might say the end was predictable when Davis and Kidd sold the company in 1997 and the new owners later moved the store out of the Grace’s Plaza location. Others say technology makes the ultimate demise of all traditional bookstores inevitable. Few, however, would argue that the Grace’s Plaza store was a magical place. Quoted in one of many articles about the store’s closure, Thelma Kidd reminisced:
“The physical space was wonderful, those two floors above ground. True, it wasn’t as easy to merchandise. We paid for all that air and light, but it was worth it, because we created an environment where people wanted to spend time.”
We’re all saddened by the store’s closure. While this may not be a story with a traditional “happily ever after ending”, any story responsible for three decades of happy memories is one worth telling. We’re proud to have been the architects behind the creation of such a special space.