Academy: reopened

Charleston bookstore back from the ashes

Older books just look better.
Courtesy of guldfisken

Here’s your main takeaway from this story: Academy Fine Books is open again. Unless you’re an extremely regular customer or are on the store’s e-mail list, you may have thought otherwise. Perhaps you heard about the November fire that closed it. Maybe you saw the storage pod in front of the East Charleston store and mistook it for a Dumpster, the kind someone throws everything into when the gig is up for good.

“We’re still not 100 percent,” owner Gary Frick said the other day, immediately after negotiating the details of getting a new credit-card machine, another crucial step in Academy’s revival. “There are still some boxes on the floor. It will be a few weeks before everything is nice and neat. But we’re open.”

He’s even got plenty of fresh merch. He may not have been selling books for the last six months, but he was definitely out there buying them—“a lot of really good inventory no one has seen.” Now all he needs is for someone to see it.

The Details

Academy Fine Books
2026 E. Charleston Blvd., 471-6500.

Getting back to this point wasn’t easy. Although the fire didn’t engulf the store or anything, it did ruin several bookcases worth of quality stuff, “some nice leather-bound volumes.” Much of the surviving stock had to be carted across the parking lot to a vacant store, where the moving crew basically stacked 10,000 loose, unboxed books. (“We had a pile of books 10 feet tall and 20 feet around,” Frick says.) And while a bunch of guys can move books out of a store, only the guy who knows where they go can move them back; it took Frick and a friend more than a month to get the store ready to open.

Worse, it took a lot longer to get the 1,400-square-foot space ready to move into than the one and a half months originally estimated. “Had I known it would take five or six months, I probably would not have come back here,” Frick admits. He would have relocated to Green Valley. Now he can’t: He spent his rainy-day fund getting through the down time—only to emerge into the slowest months of the used-book-selling biz, the wind-down of spring and the bottom-out of summer. He missed the hearty months.

Still, he’s happy to be open again, pleased with the new stuff he’s acquired, determined to hang in there. The rest is up to you. “It was a fight,” he says. “But we’ll survive.”

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