One More Page Books: A Novel Concept
Whether you’re looking to geek out with fellow bibliophiles, indulge your sweet tooth or feed your latest obsession, this indie bookstore has it all.
Don’t come here just to buy a book. If that’s all you’re after, you’ll miss half of what’s so great about One More Page, the independent bookstore off Lee Highway on the border of Arlington and Falls Church. The reason you come here is because you love to read and discuss what you’ve just read. Or because you’re looking for a tip on that great author you would never have heard of otherwise. Oh—and you also come here to buy ketchup.
Yes, ketchup. Store owner Eileen McGervey stocks it—the elusive Henry’s Grandma’s Catsup, to be exact—because one of her customers was clamoring for a bottle.
“They used to use it at Ray’s Hell-Burger,” explains McGervey, who grew up in Pittsburgh but has lived in Arlington for most of the past 25 years. “It has a very distinctive taste, but you can’t get it anywhere around here.” In a signature display of responsiveness to the quirky preferences of her clientele, she now sells the condiment alongside local fair-trade coffees, unusual chocolates, wines and, of course, New York Times best-sellers. “Sometimes people just run in to buy a few bottles,” she laughs.
Seeking to start a new chapter in her life after a 20-year stint as a consultant for tech companies, McGervey opened One More Page in January 2011. She did it, in part, to indulge her own desire to be surrounded by “books, wine, chocolate and the people who love them.”
She also wanted to create a gathering place where literary types could touch down and interact. So far, the concept seems to be working.
“Some people send me the Amazon links for books that they want me to order,” McGervey says with a smile, admitting to some satisfaction in giving the monster bookseller a run for its money. But One More Page also offers a level of personalization that the Internet can’t. “A lot of times, people come in and they don’t even know what they want yet,” she explains. “That’s what we’re here for.”
The store functions as something of a community center, running six different book clubs for genres ranging from young adult literature to spirituality to international mysteries. Authors have added the store as a stop on their book tours. Local author Sallie Lowenstein leads writing workshops for kids between the ages of 9 and 18.
In addition to book readings two or three times a week, the shop hosts occasional wine tastings, with expert tutorials in viticulture. If there’s something you’d like to attend that’s not already on the calendar, just let McGervey know; she’ll see if she can make it happen.
In fact, the entire operation seems to run on what people like. “When people are in a bookstore, they’re in a pretty good mood. They come in for something that gives them pleasure,” she observes.
The store’s “decadent corner” comprises a stash of brain-candy reads—humor, memoirs and food and travel writing—as well as exotic Vosges chocolates in flavors like Smoke & Stout (“I thought it was going to taste like ashtrays and beer,” McGervey says, “but actually, it’s pretty good.”) and about two dozen wine selections, which lean heavily toward the owner’s particular taste for big, voluptuous reds.
Above several bottles are suggested book pairings and tasting notes, gently nudging customers to give in to their desire to uncork a bottle for the very special occasion of curling up with a delicious new novel.
I would be remiss not to mention the bathroom. It looks like a preteen girl’s bedroom, except that instead of walls covered with Justin Bieber posters, it’s plastered with photos of staff members posing with their favorite authors, including Richard Thompson, Brad Parks and Donna Andrews.
As for literature, the standard roster of new releases and classics is on hand, as is an expansive collection of kids’ books and gifts, volumes from local authors, and topical favorites. (On a recent visit, displays were dedicated to fans of both Downton Abbey and Fifty Shades of Grey.) Throughout the store, Post-it notes dot the covers of beloved tomes, with thoughts from the staff about what makes each title worth picking up. A cart in the center of the store holds overstock books that customers can take for free.
McGervey seems to be scratching a previously unsatisfied itch for many local book lovers. “At least once a week, someone comes in here and says, ‘I only buy stuff here because I don’t want you to go away,’ ” she says. “It’s really touching to me because this is my dream, but it’s also meaningful to a lot of other people in the community.”
Style columnist Adrienne Wichard-Edds appreciates an excuse to pair wine with anything.