All Together Now

Volunteers help Southland ready for Saturday open house

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Blount County’s largest used bookstore, Southland Books, has been in business for about 15 years. That’s enough time for most businesses to build a solid base of customers. Southland regulars aren’t like other customers, though. They showed up in droves to help move thousands of books from the bookstore’s home in the old MNR auto parts building to a new location two blocks away at 801 E. Broadway.

Over an extended weekend, volunteers packed and loaded books, built shelves, and stocked the new store.

Southland’s new location will share space with Southern Studios Stained Glass, owned by artist Catherine Frye, a new coffee bar, Detour Coffee, and ‘27/’37 Publishing, printer of original and out of print local interest books. There is also a retail area offering the work of local artists and artisans.

With such a variety of interests under one roof, the group hopes to become a gathering place for a diverse community of people.

The new location was previously home to Drakes Auto Parts. Countertops and barstools from those days have been refurbished as part of the new bar for Detour Coffee as a way to honor the spirit of community already associated with the building.

"It’s good to be a part of creating a place like this. I think this town is ready for it," said Edward Harper, local musician with Pistol Creek Catch of the Day, who donated the use of his truck for the move and helped construct a stage for the building.
Plans are in the works for the stage to be home to a regular open mike night, arts demonstrations, poetry slams and other events. The location also offers a seating area to accommodate group meetings as well as individual customers.

"We want to be a destination in the community. You can come here and meet people who share your interests, maybe learn something, shop for gifts, or just relax with a book and a good cup of coffee," said Lisa Misosky, owner of Southland Books.

Saturday, an open house celebrating the new location and collaboration will feature family activities like face painting, storytelling, and crafts workshops from 1-4 p.m. An artists’ reception with refreshments and a chance to mingle with local artists and musicians will follow at 5 p.m. Live music will complete the festivities from 6-8 p.m.

"There’s always going to be something going on for people to get involved in," said Valerie Spence, owner of Detour Coffee. "We’re going to have activities to suit just about every taste. Things are always interesting at the bookstore."

A calendar of events will be posted at the store, and more information is available by calling 865-984-4847.

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