In short, I was enthralled by the magic of the store, and when a road trip to Utah to visit grandparents or spend a few days at the Shakespeare festival was announced, I got used to asking if we were going to go to "that cool bookstore," and it became a regular stop.
Several years later, my sister Megan worked there and loved it. She told me how she wished she could slip into the envelope of books they were mailing to faraway places and be mailed along with them. I remember her opening the book vault for my mom and I once, where they keep rare and delicate books. The magic just couldn't go away.
Or so I thought.
Yesterday I went there looking for Christmas presents for myself and a loved one (who shall remain unnamed since the Holiday hasn't yet passed). I noticed that they'd finally opened the wing with a little cafe that apparently has been in the works since my sister was employed there. I was excited to see how it had turned out, since the time I went with my sister and her kids to talk to the manager about how it might turn out. My first thought as I approached the store this time was that they had chosen a rather silly name for the cafe: Cafe Trendz. Really? Trendz? And with a 'Z'? It seemed ridiculous. But I went inside-- you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, you know. Immediately I could sense that something was different. There were no stacks of books on the checkout counter, waiting to be sorted and reshelved. Had there ever been? Had my memories of the place been only romantic visions? I moved on. The entire first part of the store was covered in LDS literature and the like, with a small section for 'Popular Picks' and History. Okay, fine, it is called Pioneer Book. So I moved into the second room, now the cafe. It was cute, but looked just like a Starbucks or any other little coffee shop-- only far fewer people, and at least half of them were only there for the WiFi.
So I passed on through to the third section, where two giddy college girls were laughing at each other and shelving books. I was only slightly annoyed until one of them threw a couple of books to the floor from where she was standing (on a ladder, shelving on the topmost shelf). The books landed, splayed awkwardly, with a flapping thud. I'm certain my eyes widened because after noticing I was there she said quickly, "Oh, that was a bad idea." But didn't get down to pick them up or set them straight. I wanted to browse the general fiction section, but that's where the employees were working hard, so I looked at the Classics section and got a little peek at General Fiction when one of the girls left to go get something, but I couldn't find anything I was looking for. I did find a couple of books I liked, but they were priced exorbitantly. I mean really, $2 for a book with a bent and grainy cover? I saw one for $3 that was almost water-damaged beyond recognition.
I thought about asking one of the girls in the next aisle if they had any Bradbury or Vonnegut, or if they could direct me to Mary Stewart's section, but doubted they knew much about the situation. They probably might have, but when I realized the bookstore was no longer quiet (the hip tunes emenating from Cafe Trendz and the laughter and odd remarks from the employees saw to that) and the scent of the books was being masked by the smell of black coffee, I began to be annoyed, but mostly disappointed. I put down the books I was thinking of purchasing, stepped over the pile of books on the floor that had been tossed there, and left thinking how sad it was that one of my favorite childhood places had been turned into something else.