The Book Shelf, Tryon, NC

Aug 09, 2015

BACKROADS BOOKSTORES, literary ramblings from sea to shining sea.

Tyron is a lovely destination in Polk County, North Carolina at the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and as they like to say, it is  “close enough to everything but not too close for comfort.” The year round population nears 2,000 and is located in the ‘thermal belt’ which is free of dew and frost with an enjoyable year-round climate. US Highway 176 — also known as “Trade Street” — runs through the middle of this tiny place which recently celebrated 125 years as the “Friendliest Town in the South.”

I spend a good amount of time in Cashiers, North Carolina which sits proudly at the crossroads of U.S. Route 64 and North Carolina Highway 107. It is a world away from chaos. U.S Route 64 stretches from Whale Bone Junction, North Carolina to Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. I’ve found several Backroads Bookstores in communities along the western mountains section of Route 64: Hendersonville, Brevard, Highlands, and Franklin. And it is just a short detour to Tryon, Sylva and Waynesville, each sporting a vital bookshop.


Penny Padgett, helpful and enthusiastic owner of The Book Shelf in Tryon, NC


Extraordinary Book Mobile rivals Alexander Calder

In the middle of this equestrian and artistic community, you might ramble into The Book Shelf, (right beside the coffee shop, A Better Deal, and Cowan’s Hardware,) which has been a fixture in town since 1952. In 2010 the store changed hands. The new owners are Penny Padgett and Bobby Silvers, with Stacey Stafford serving as store manager. The previous owner was Betsy Goree and notably, Penny announces proudly, the bookstore has always been owned by women.

The Bookshelf stages many events in the community which has known many notable residents including F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Gillette (the Sherlock Holmes actor), Kenneth Lackey (one of the original three stooges,) and favorite daughter, Nina Simone (the singer, composer, pianist and activist.) When asked if The Book Shelf has a shop Pet, Penny pointed to a stain glass cat in the window. She loves pets but doesn’t want to aggravate her customer’s allergies. Now that is service.


This shop pet won’t cause allergies

The Book Shelf offers national and regional bestsellers in fiction and non-fiction, as well and cards and gifts. You are  also invited  to have coffee and spend your afternoon with a book in their comfortable reading nook. And did I mention their senior citizen discount? They will also happily point you toward the used bookstore down the street. The Village Book Shoppe. The more the merrier. (Unfortunately it was closed when I rambled through, but the photo says enough to capture my heart.)

The Village Bookshop, down the road in Tryon.

The Village Bookshop, down the road in Tryon.

The Book Shelf

94 N. Trade St.

Tryon NC 28782