By David Schuller
If there’s one thing Eileen McGervey loves, its books. And she’s managed to turn that love into a local staple while national chains fall by the wayside.
Every book-lover has come to that late night intersection where they have two options: get some sleep or finish the chapter. And every book-lover has traded a bright-eyed day of work for the satisfaction of a literary experience, repeating to themselves in the lamplight, “Just one more page….”
McGervey spent a career in the corporate world before turning her business acumen to something she was truly passionate about. “I love to read and to talk with people about books,” McGervey says, “I wanted to try my hand [at] something that I was passionate about and the bookstore has not disappointed me.” The product of her passion was One More Page Books, an independent bookstore that has become a centerpiece in the Arlington literary community.
In the shadow of falling corporate giants, independent bookstores have become a kind of set piece among the urban landscape. Separating itself from your average bookstore, McGervey credits the success of One More Page to the community. “Social media and online communication play an important role, but being in the neighborhood, being a place where people can walk to, having events that they can come to, are essential to us. It really is a community and the support we get is amazing and humbling.”
The benefit an independent bookstore has over its larger national competitors is, according to McGervey, the books. Independent bookstores have the opportunity to select literature that often gets washed away in the sea of bestsellers that often swamp the market. “Our selection can be a little eclectic, funny and local as well as include the big sellers. A key role of indie bookstores is to uncover hidden gems and new authors and to promote them.”
But McGervey doesn’t stop at books. To drive business and introduce new readers to One More Page, she often hosts wine tasting and sells gourmet chocolates in the store. Such an environment, presents the perfect opportunity to poke around the shelves and ask someone, “Have you read this yet?”
And it’s this flexibility that cemented One More Page within the community. “I am constantly overwhelmed by people’s support by emailing all their friends, coming to us first to get a book, coming out to our events and telling us, ‘I shop here because I want you to stay here.’” One More Page has truly become an Arlington fixture and a source of pride for the community few other establishments can rival.
Prideful enough to catch the attention of the president.
For Small Business Saturday, President Obama, with his family in tow, visited One More Page to make a purchase. “We did not know he was coming to the store until about 10 minutes before he arrived. The President came in with his shopping list and fortunately, we were able to help him out, although I was too nervous and made one of the other staff members ring him up. Even though his visit was about five months ago, we are still regularly asked by customers to tell them about his visit.” The visit propelled the store’s popularity to the extent that customers have traveled from as far away as China and Italy to browse the shelves.
McGervey envisions extending her work with publishers, garnering a wider selection of authors to present their work at One More Page. “I want to keep working on getting the word out about the store and our events because there’s nothing like hearing an author talk about their book or the writing process. I can honestly say that’s one of my favorite things. The interaction between authors and readers is energizing and exciting on both sides.”
One More Page Books
2200 N. Westmoreland St., Arlington