enough to indulge in a favorite prank.
When he comes across a book with Hillary Clinton’s face on the cover, he turns it
backward. On the rare occasion a fellow
customer intrudes on his solitude by
talking loudly on a cellphone, he tells him
or her to be quiet. “Usually, they shut up,”
he says with a smile.
;is curmudgeonly stranger let me
sit with him for the longest time as we
talked about politics, the books he’s reading, the military authors he knows. I told
him that Anthropologie is scheduled to
move into this space in 2018. He says he
won’t be back to see that.
I won’t boycott Anthropologie,
although I probably won’t spend much
time there unless they have something
to o;er me beyond stu;. We don’t need
another place just to buy things in
Bethesda. We need a place to discover
books and each other. We need a place
to exchange ideas. We need a bookstore.
I have faith that someone will find
a way to bring a bookstore back to
Bethesda. I don’t know whether it will
look like Amazon, Politics and Prose or
some entirely new venture that I can’t yet
imagine. I do know that I’ll never again
make the mistake of taking the local
bookstore for granted.
As the number of people signing the
Change.org petition grows—despite
Anthropologie’s plans to move into the
bookstore’s space—I’m reminded of
something a smart retail planner once
told me. Customers feel a sense of ownership for the businesses they frequent, but
they don’t have ownership. For privileged
customers accustomed to getting pretty
much what they want when they want it,
this is a hard truth: ;e landlord giveth
and the landlord taketh away.
Next year, whenever a stranger stops
to ask me for directions to someplace in
downtown Bethesda I expect I’m likely
to say: “Do you know where Barnes &
Noble used to be?” ■
April Witt is a former Washington Post
writer who lives in Bethesda.
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