Rejoice, Maryville College bookworms, for a new indie bookshop is coming to town. Neighborly Books, owned and operated by Blount County resident Laurie Meier, is set to open on East Broadway sometime this summer. Promising to sell not only new releases, but also literary games, puzzles and merchandise, it is setting up to be a worthy new addition to the downtown landscape.
For Meier, Neighborly Books has been a long time coming. “I started looking seriously into opening a bookstore just before the lockdowns started and coincidentally the building that I’m moving into came up for rent during that time. However, I was too nervous about trying to open a business then and didn’t feel that I was ready. I was sad to see it go, but it worked out in the end,” she explains.
For years, the primary independently-owned bookstore in Maryville has been Southland Books and Cafe. While both Southland and Meier’s new shop technically fall under the category of “independent bookstore,” Neighborly Books stands to differentiate itself from its predecessor. Southland primarily sells used books and other vintage items like records and action figures, while also having its own cafe. Meier’s shop, on the other hand, will offer new releases fresh off the printer, as well as an assortment of bookish goods.
Meier does not wish for competition between the two shops; instead, she hopes that they can work together. In speaking about working with Southland Books and Cafe and other businesses downtown, she said, “I . . . would like to take advantage of opportunities to partner with these other businesses to bring more people to Downtown Maryville. I think we all benefit when we can figure out new ways to work together to make [it] a better place to be.”
Given the shop’s summer opening, Meier should have plenty of opportunities to interact with other downtown businesses. Maryville Farmers’ Market will be going on, as well as several other summer events.
As one might expect from a bookstore owner, Meier herself is an avid reader. When asked about any recent reads that she might recommend, she said, “I’ve been reading a lot of business books that were suggested to me by other store owners, but I sneak in some fiction here and there, too.”
Meier recently enjoyed reading Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. “I wasn’t sure I would like the structure of going back and forth between so many characters in wildly varying time periods, but it was such a good story that it drew me in almost immediately,” she recalled.
As far as upcoming releases go, Meier is open to ideas. “I’m beginning the process of ordering inventory for my opening and have seen so many new books coming out that I want to add to my TBR list,” she said. Meier has her eye on some new writers that she might introduce to local readers.
While Neighborly Books has yet to open their physical storefront, you can support them online in the lead-up to their grand opening. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates on the shop’s official opening. You can also check out https://neighborlybooks.com/ to get a head start on shopping. Clicking the “Shop” tab at the top of the site will take you to the store’s Book Shop online store. Book Shop is an online bookstore that connects indie bookstores across the country and allows readers everywhere to shop from them. It’s a great place to find a new read for summer break, while supporting a local business.