Union Ave Books expands into adjacent storefront

photos by Amelia Bartlett

Additional suite allows for greater selection, more comfortable space

Union Ave Books, a staple in downtown Knoxville for seven years, has expanded into the suite next door. If you’ve ever been – and I hope that you have – you’ll know that the shop was filled nearly floor to ceiling with books, gifts, stationery and just enough space for a bustling calendar of literary-focused events.

Flossie McNabb

Flossie McNabb and her daughter Bunnie run the bookstore full-time with the faithful support of Scout, a most adorable shop dog. Over the last few years of her lifelong career as a bookseller, Flossie has seen the popularity of e-readers and digital libraries explode and then, most recently, fade into the background.

Nearly a decade ago, it seemed like everyone was predicting the end of the local bookstore, the rise of the few remaining chain superstores and the ultimate transition to e-reading. Not Flossie, however, who knew that nothing could replace the feel of a book in your hand or the feeling of perusing a physical wall of fictional adventures found between two covers.

The book industry is thriving once again, and Union Ave Books has experienced immense support from the local community. When asked if Knoxville is a city of readers, Flossie responds vehemently, “Oh, yes. Definitely. And not [just about] any particular subject.”

Bunnie Presswood

In modifying the shop, however, Flossie does disclose that one of the business’s primary focuses is on solidifying Children’s World, the segment of the store devoted to younger readers. “We get a ton of children in here,” she says, “so we are expanding the kids’ section tremendously.”

In addition to stocking more children’s books, toys, games and gifts, Union Ave Books has moved its lifestyle, home improvement and regional sections – all now respectively larger and spread out to allow for a bit more room to breathe – to the expanded space. There’s also a healthy selection of notebooks, planners, journals, calendars and literary gifts.

I toured the shop with Bunnie, marveling at her incredible taste and keen merchandising insight. What is she most proud of? “Everything in here is on wheels,” she says, “so we can completely open the space for events.”

When was the last time you went to an event at a bookshop? Union Ave Books frequently hosts regional authors, many of which are from Knoxville and East Tennessee, showing works representing all genres and subject matter. It hosts book showings with publishing representatives and independent book clubs, as well, and the store always welcomes suggestions from readers in the community about what kinds of gatherings they would like to attend.

Next time you’re downtown and find yourself with a few extra minutes to spare or simply are on the hunt for new reading material, check out the newly expanded Union Ave Books at 517 Union Ave. (in the Daylight Building). The store opens at 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday and at noon on Sunday. Learn more by visiting unionavebooks.com.

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