Wanted: Sitter For Rural Bookshop. Must Like Cats

Weekend Edition Sunday guest host Linda Wertheimer speaks with Wendy Welch and Jack Beck, owners of Tales of the Lonesome Pine bookstore in Big Stone Gap, Va. They are looking for someone to watch their shop while embarking on a two-month book tour. Wendy has written a memoir about owning a brick and mortar bookshop in a small, rural community.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

We hardly ever do Help Wanted ads but this one sounds really good. Owners of Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used Bookstore in Big Stone Gap, Virginia needs someone to run the place while they're away for two months. You'd get to live over the store with a three well-read cats and a couple of dogs for company. Joining me from member station WUOT in Knoxville are the owners of the bookstore, Wendy Welch and Jack Beck. Welcome to the program.

WENDY WELCH: Thank you.

JACK BECK: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: Well, who is the ideal caretaker, Jack? And what do they need to do?

BECK: Kind of obvious thing is like keeping the place tidy. We have a lot of people who donate books to us or who bring books in shop credit. And that's how we get most of our stock. And, of course, one of the things about that is that you are not necessarily talking about a strict nine to five regimen. You could be working right into the evening, just getting stuff put away and valued and priced and on the shelves.

WERTHEIMER: What about the livestock in the area, the cats and the dogs?

(LAUGHTER)

WELCH: We're also looking for some animal skills, because we have a senile 17-year-old Scottish cat.

WERTHEIMER: Oh, no.

WELCH: Yeah, she came over from Scotland to live with us. She is the alpha dog of the bookstore. You know, when people talk about thinking outside the box, they don't think that cats will take them up on that. But this one does. So, we're looking for someone who knows what cat pee smells like and can remove it from anywhere it shouldn't be.

WERTHEIMER: So, would you say, though, that apart from these occasional eruptions, a quiet life in Big Stone Gap?

BECK: Oh, it depends what you call a quiet life. Big Stone Gap is a pristinely beautiful town. The town itself is interesting. I find it very beautiful. There's a lovely old stone courthouse, and combined with the post office that are right across the street from our bookstore.

WELCH: One of the things, I think, will interest people about doing this is there are people who want to run bookshops or who want to support bookshops. This is a two-month, no-risk, see-if-you-actually-like-this-lifestyle for that kind of person. We're not just offering this job because we need it, but because we want to nurture someone who would then go forward and stake their own claim as an independent bookstore somewhere. Because we are 167 percent supporters of independent bookstores.

WERTHEIMER: Wendy Welch and Jack Beck looking for the perfect person to look after their bookshop in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. They joined us from WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. Thank you both so much.

WELCH: Thank you.

BECK: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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