Post Thanksgiving sluggishness set in? How about the Christmas shopping fever? Well whether you are near or far do I have the place for you. This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with the owner of one of the "Treasures in my Backyard". I've mentioned Broad Street Books before. This amazing shop in downtown Branchville NJ is a must for you to visit if you're in the area. Even if you have to drive a bit, I promise it's worth the time. Not only a brick and mortar (literally) this successful entrepreneur and her family do a thriving on-line business. I'm so excited for you to meet today's guest I'm about to burst. Before that happens, please help me welcome Sue-Ni.
Sue-Ni this is an amazing building. Can you tell us a bit about its history?
When we purchased the building it was a Lawyer's office. But in 1904 it was originally The First National Bank of Branchville. Once it was robbed and they called it the Jesse James bank even though it wasn't the infamous criminal. We bought and opened the book store in 2012 and will celebrate our ten-year anniversary of opening on November 9, 2022.
Any other insights into it?
There is the mystery of how they removed the vault from the basement. It had to come out in one piece and none of the doors or windows are big enough. Across the street, in the newer bank, you can see the inner workings of the lock system that was preserved. And at one time the building was a bomb shelter. Also, the store is only the tip of the iceberg. We have 3 buildings holding inventory. So if it's not on the shelves you see, talk to us or email us. We may have or are able to obtain a copy of that special book for you.
Are you a Branchville native?
No, I'm the child of wonderful parents. My mom is a deaf Taiwanese immigrant and my Dad is USAF (met on Taiwan while serving). They settled in Florida. I grew up in humble circumstances. We moved to Branchville to start our family. My husband and I have three sons.
Are they book people?
If you noticed the young man at the front desk when you came in, that is Cory , our employee. He grew up with my youngest son Oak. They are book people at least now.
How do you mean?
My youngest took a while to grow into it. It was a matter of finding his niche in the reading world.
Hmm, his niche?
Many young people come through the doors here. So many think they don't like to read. You have to find what interests you. All books have value. For instance here. These are classic works done as graphic novels.
Ownership of books is important for a child. Graphic books are a mix of reading and art and can give them an opening into a lifelong love.
It's a great way to think of it. Have you read Shakespeare?
I read all of Shakespeare the summer before starting 8th grade while visiting my grandparents in Taiwan. They were the only English titles books my grandparents owned. I believe they shaped me into the person I am today with a love and appreciation of many genre's including poetry.
Other than family, is there a person or book that made a difference in your life?
Both. In grade school, Ms. Dorothy Parson's placed a copy of Carolyn Keene's, The Secret of the Old Clock in my hands. It was the first of the Nancy Drew books. BTW, there is not an actual Carolyn Keen. A ghost writer for The Stratemeyer Syndicate wrote it
What are you reading now?
I usually have several going. Mostly on growth, mindset, and the art of persuasion. I'm reading Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, and Nabokov's Butterfly: And Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books.
A little light reading, lol. Do you remember the first book you owned?
The first book I purchased with my own money as a teenager. I think it was a Sidney Sheldon book. One of my friends has many of my books now.
There's a saying curiosity killed the cat and satisfaction brought him back. I'm a naturally curious person. What is the most valuable book you've sold?
The final biography published about Babe Ruth three weeks before he died is the most valuable recent book that we have sold. The bonus was the book was flat signed by Babe Ruth too! Baseball memorabilia is quite valuable.
Have there been any times throughout your time at the bookstore someone has touched you or said something that you carry with you always?
Yes, when you own a place like this so many come through the door. Each person has a story in themselves. In particular, there was a Catholic sister whose family was unhappy with her decision to join the church. She told me the peace of store was like a sanctuary to her. We also have many books on self-care, coping, overcoming, spiritual. Often I guide the person to exactly what they need. Books create a vital human connection. They lead us forward with inspiration and aspiration.
Other than books, what do you enjoy?
Travel and camping. My husband and I enjoy being together with others and having honest and open conversations while being respectful and listening to others, realizing the value of their beliefs even if they differ from ours. Everyone's walk and story come from a different life experience.
Let's chat a bit about Branchville. Can you tell us about your involvement in the community?
For any success, a small business has to be involved. We are members of Branchville Art Walks, Branchville Redevelopment Committee, Friends of the Branchville Rotary, and supporters for the up-and-coming Holiday Date Night. Additionally we donate/provide the electricity for our Branchville Christmas tree to maintain the holiday tradition.
Oh, I'm a romance author tell me about Holiday Date Night.
It's not just for couples but for anyone you love. On Friday, December 3rd the town tree lighting is happening. Our Branchville businesses are coordinating a “Holiday date night” from 4-7pm with the tree lighting at 6pm including carolers from the Branchville United Methodist Church. We invite everyone to come and take a stroll in our family-friendly borough. Maybe do a little local shopping, have a delicious meal, savor a drink, make a charitable donation, discover a new local business along with the festive spirit.
What a wonderful idea! It's the kind of thing that makes Branchville a treasure. Another treasure many people forget to take advantage of is their local library. Is Broad Street Books involved with ours?
Definitely, we are. As lovers of books, we need to be part of pro-literacy. During certain library events for children, we provide gift certificates as well.
Sue-Ni, I appreciate you spending time with me today. It's pretty busy here. (A lady and her daughter not from the area just excused themselves asking about where to find a certain book). I'm going to let you get back to what you do best after one more question. Grab your soapbox and tell us what you would like to say to everyone about running a small business or books, or whatever is on your mind.
One of my favorite quotes was given to me by my son from a hip-hop song, "Work until idols become rivals". Also, find great mentors. Ask questions and don't be afraid. Don't waste time pretending when you don't understand something. Every day should be an education.
To find out more about Sue-Ni and Broad Street books head over to
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A note from D. V.
Broad Street Books is also so supportive of local authors. From the beginning of my writing career and ongoing they have carried my books. I also frequent the shop and my most recent purchases were books on the history of Jazz for research on my upcoming release of Jazz House. The lady and daughter I mentioned above? Bought a copy of Rock House Grill I signed for her.
So, if you are looking for any of the following reach out. The store ships worldwide.
Art, Architecture, Photography, Painting/Drawing, Design, Fashion,
Children's Books, Young Adult, History, Religion, Philosophy, Mythology/Occult, Sports, Science, Chess, Music, Transportation (auto, trains, planes, and ships), Sociology, Psychology,
Plus many others.
Broad Street Books also carries a large selection of Classical and Jazz CDs.