Wednesday, September 21, 2011

bbgb, a Richmond landmark

bbgb books – Repeat the letters rapidly five times, and you’ve got a tongue twister to beat them all. Try to crack the code, and you have a pleasant brainteaser.

Buy books, Give books!

Bring back great books!

Beguiling, beautiful, glittering books!

Badgers, beavers, gerbils, bats – Well, why not? Animal books are great fun!

The possibilities go on and on. Jill Stefanovich and Jenesse Evertson, owners of the only children’s book store in Richmond, wanted a name that kids could play around with and enjoy. They bought the store, then called Narnia, about a year ago when previous owner Kelly Kyle decided to retire. The dynamic duo had less than a week to make their life-changing decision. In the end, however, it all came down to their love of children’s books. “We couldn’t stand for Narnia not to be here,” says Jill.

Each with their own area of expertise, Jill and Jenesse complement each other professionally. Jill has a head for figures and the background necessary to keep a company afloat. Jenesse, who has a master’s degree in children’s literature and PhD in literacy, provides the educational background.

“What completely sets us apart [from other book stores],” explains Jill, “is that we match the reader with the book.” It’s a process I watched with admiration when I recently had a chance to chat with both owners. It was a fairly busy afternoon. Jill and Jenesse greeted parents and kids alike with easy familiarity. They enjoy sharing new titles and recommending old favorites as much as the customers, young and old, enjoy browsing the packed shelves. A trip to bbgb is an adventure. As a long-time customer myself, I can vouch for the carefully chosen selection. There are books at bbgb that you won’t find anywhere else in Richmond.

The “shop kids” get in on the act too – Jill’s seven year-old twin daughters and Jenesse’s seven-year-daughter and six-year-old son. They have their favorites which are spotlighted for customers to see.

And then there are what Jill calls their “secret weapons,” Diane and Julianna. There’s very little that these long-time veterans of children’s bookselling don’t know. And they enjoy sharing their enthusiasm with everyone. Through the years, I’ve come to know them and appreciate them well. Frankly, it’s lots of fun to talk books with them.

Time flies quickly when you’re visiting bbgb. So do words when you’re writing about it. I’ll have to save Jill and Jenesse’s future plans and book recommendations for the next blog. But don’t wait for that to visit bbgb (on Kensington down the street from the Historical Society). It is THE hot spot for children’s books in Richmond.
And don't miss Michael Buckley at bbgb on Tuesday, September 27th from 3:30-5:30!

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