Sometimes you just have to be open to the magic.
I try to be as open as I can be as a podcast host. There are good stories everywhere if you look for them, and I found one in the quaint little town of Summerside, PEI a couple of weeks ago. Specifically I found Nancy Quinn and the story of Seaside Books. I wasn’t expecting a podcast episode to come from it, but that’s the world sometimes. Good things can happen out of the blue.
Who opens a used bookstore these days? Even Nancy, who has a background in small business development, probably would have advised caution about investing in something like that, but she still felt the pull and listened (much like I did when I talked to her). She had been a customer at what became her store for ten years before she finally acknowledged a dream she didn’t really know she had and made an offer to buy it.
I visited the store on “Day 3” of its existence. When I returned almost a year later, “Day 333” was written on Nancy’s sign and the symbolism was really all I needed. After I talked to her for a few minutes I knew there was a story worth telling here. Even so, I left without making an interview request. Then, remembering that I need to listen to my intuition, I went back to the store and found her almost waiting for me, ready to say yes.
What is it about used book stores in general and Seaside Books in particular? I can’t really say. I simply know that used books don’t just hold stories – they are stories, and maybe you can feel those stories in a place like that. What I know for sure is that there’s a vibe in Seaside Books that feels good, even to a semi-failed writer like me who still quietly longs to express his literary gifts. I just really love the energy in that place, which is probably as much about Nancy as anything else.
After I recorded this interview, Nancy and I talked for a bit and it became clear just how much she loves her little shop and its contents. In fact, she had tears in her eyes explaining to me that it would be hard for her to give up on the store because she worries about what would happen to the books. It was a powerful moment and it says everything about her passion for the business she has created.
What I take from this episode is that it’s okay to dream. It’s okay to go for something, even if it seems risky or unconventional. It’s okay to take a chance. It’s also okay to come to your passion later in life, too. Nancy is a middle-aged woman just now embarking on the dream. If you’re in your twenties or thirties (or forties, like your humble host) and you either haven’t figured out what you want or haven’t made it happen yet, take inspiration from Nancy and her story. There’s time. Keep searching, keep trying, and when opportunity knocks at last, be ready to act.
I’m so glad I went back to Seaside Books and asked Nancy to be on the show. There’s divinity in our conversation and I hope it encourages you to chase your dreams, take action, and believe in possibility.
(Editor’s note: The Tibor Fischer novel I referenced in the episode is The Collector Collector. It’s a wonderful and very funny book.)
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