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Bethlehem bookstore under new ownership

Juliet Born recently purchased Bethlehem's Beannacht used book store on Main Street, and is in the process of re-branding it as Legacy Used Books. (Photo by Angel Larcom) (click for larger version)
April 01, 2021
BETHLEHEM — Although she's overseen operations at Beannacht since last fall, Juliet Born became the new owner of Bethlehem's used book store earlier this month.

To honor the memory of friend and store founder Robin Grubby, who passed last fall, Born renamed the business to Legacy Used Books.

She said, "Robin conceived and created this bookstore and made it such a welcoming space in Bethlehem. Every conversation with Robin was both enriching and fun, and I hope to pay that inspiration forward."

Grubby founded Beannacht in 2016. Located in the heart of Bethlehem's Main Street "theater district," the bookstore is located across the street from the Colonial Theater in a 100-year-old space that was once a pharmacy. With floor-to-ceiling woodwork and original tin ceilings, the space is warm and inviting with overstuffed furniture and countless bookshelves.

"I really think of 2020 as a transition year for this store. Although the closing was delayed for several months, I've been spending a lot of time in here, getting to know the books and keeping the place open to the public," said Born.

"The name Beannacht was Robin's, and it meant 'blessing' in Gaelic. I decided to rename it for a couple of reasons. By definition, a legacy is something of value that comes to you from a predecessor or ancestor. It's also something that has intrinsic value in a community," stated Born.

"The third reason is that I am not doing this alone. It's something that I share with my family. Though my children live in other states, they are avid readers and excited to contribute ideas. In a way, it's my legacy to them, even if they never end up operating the store," added the new owner.

Although the shelves are brimming with various subjects, Born said the last year presented challenges in growing the collection. The ongoing social restrictions led many regional public libraries to cancel their annual book sales, which had long been a source for new materials under Grubby's ownership.

However, Born was gifted more than $100,000 in children's books, which allowed her to expand the young readers' section in the store's back area. Because the collection came from a school library, Born now has multiple copies of some books. She said she's eager to host young reader groups in the store as society returns to normal.

For now, Born doesn't intend to purchase additional used books or offer book exchange programs. However, she does hope to host intimate book clubs and poetry readings in the future. Because space is limited in the small bookstore, she anticipates such gatherings to be no larger than six to eight people.

"I would like to use the reading area for gatherings - the possibilities are limitless. It would be great to host local author events because there are so many writers in the area," stated Born.

The new owner also understands the strength of community partnerships. She has already begun conversations with the local public library and theater about possible future collaborations.

Born moved to the greater Littleton region in 2017 after spending ten years in Wyoming's high plains and mountains. She spent more than 25 years managing and designing economic development system programs around the world. Her children were born in southern Africa, and her youngest was ten years old when they returned to the US.

"When you talk about diversity, there's an importance to being open to new places, new ideas, new languages and new friends. Bookstores lend themselves to conversations, and I'm excited to try this new type of life after several years in government service," stated Born.

Although she anticipates expanded operations during the peak summer season, Born said the bookstore's hours remain limited for now. Legacy Used Books is currently open from noon to 5 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays. To learn more, email Born directly at legacyusedbooks@gmail.com.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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