RALEIGH, NC. — A member of a well-known Raleigh family is the new owner of Quail Ridge Books & Music. Bookstore owner Nancy Olson turns the reigns over to Lisa Robie Poole, a 49-year-old mother and wife. Poole is the wife of Ven Poole, CEO of Waste Industries in Raleigh.
Poole is a Raleigh native, who grew up in the same neighborhood as humorist David Sedaris. Her father was the beloved pediatrician, Dr. Bill Robie. She’s excited about starting this new chapter in her life as a bookstore owner. “I have two daughters departing the nest, leaving just one behind, and the opportunity to add something to my life seemed interesting,” she says.
Poole says she will continue the tradition of Olson. “I am in awe of everything that goes on in that store,” she says. “From the author events, to the book clubs, the award winning children’s section, and the wonderful collection of Southern writers…I can’t imagine changing the book store into something other than what Jim and Nancy Olson have made it.”
“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to carry on the traditions of Quail Ridge Books,” says Poole, who hopes to add new books to her large children’s book collection intended for her future grandchildren.
“I know they will be good stewards of the bookstore,” Olson says. “They are very down-to-earth and easy to work with. We are going to have a good time.”
Olson will serve in an advisory role to the store to help the new owner make a smooth transition. The new owners also will inherit the store’s 24 full- and part-time staff members, which have an average of 15 years of book-selling experience.
“I think we are really fortunate to find a new owner with roots in Raleigh who values books, and values the store the way it is and wants to keep it a strong presence in the community,” says Sarah Goddin, the store’s manager. “Nancy will still be involved for a long time and the staff will continue as well. So, there will really be little visible change except some new faces. I know our customers will find Lisa and her family a delight to get to know.”
There will be lots of new people for Poole to meet. The store has nurtured scores of North Carolina writers, including Lee Smith, Kaye Gibbons and Jill McCorkle. Many of them had their first readings at Quail Ridge Books. Olson’s taste for good books has earned her a national reputation for turning hard covers such as Charles Frazier’s “Cold Mountain” into best-sellers. The store sold 6,000 copies of his first novel, 1,200 of them at his first reading.
Olson created a gathering place for the Triangle’s book-loving community. For 28 years, she’s been wooing customers to her store again and again with genuine Southern hospitality, a knowledgeable staff and a carefully curated selection of books. This is no small feat in the competitive book-selling climate of e-books and Amazon. More than 17,500 households belong to the store’s loyalty program, and her staff can call most customers by their first names.
In 2011, Quail Ridge Books, located in Ridgewood Shopping Center, sold $3 million in books, cds, stationery, calendars and gift items. The 9,400-square-foot store also has a children’s book and music department and stocks about 70,000 titles.
Since its founding in 1984, the bookstore has attracted local and national authors, including Michael Chabon, Amy Tan and Walter Mosley, and celebrities including President Jimmy Carter, humorist David Sedaris; and radio host Garrison Keillor. The store also sponsors hundreds of events each year, including community discussion groups and town hall meetings.
Quail Ridge Books has received numerous awards. In 2001, the store was named Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year. That same year, the store also received the Pannell Award for Excellence in Children’s Bookselling and the Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling. Poole plans on keeping up the tradition.