Morgan Hill Bookstore: An Oasis Of Knowledge, Entertainment, And CommunicationNov 16, 2023 03:58PM ● By Susan Nye Photography By Lars Blackmore
Chris and Anna Miner bought the bookstore about 10 years ago from cofounders and owners Connie Appel and Peggy Holliday. Chris had been working in telecom sales in Boston and was ready for a change. With a small vacation cottage in Sunapee, the Miners and their two young daughters were familiar with the area and were fans of Morgan Hill. “We imagined living life at a slower pace in a beautiful place,” says Chris. “We saw our daughters growing up in the bookstore and becoming two incredibly well-read little humans.” While indeed well-read, the girls are no longer little. Christa is a college freshman and Ellie is a high school junior. After a short stint working full-time at the store, Anna now helps out with some of the buying but has a day job in education.
Making Customers Happy
Most days, Morgan Hill bustles with warmth and positive energy. Particularly on Saturday and moreover during the holidays, you will find yourself surrounded by all sorts of interesting—and interested—people. Students, moms and dads with their young children, and seniors—no matter how hassled or harried they are when they come in, they always leave with a smile. Books just do that to people, especially when they are sold by helpful staff in a friendly environment.
An avid reader, Jolie Hughes joined the staff at Morgan Hill about the time the Miners bought the store. “I find tremendous pleasure in helping someone find just the right book,” she says. “A book that fits their current mood or helps fill a need. A book that will make them happy.” Jolie loves it when parents and grandparents bring children into the store. She says, “It’s wonderful that so many parents treat books almost like food—an important part of their children’s nutrition. You can see it in their faces and hear it in their voices. Children who love to read bring excitement and joy into the store . . . and life.”
Chris freely and enthusiastically admits that he loves the bookstore. “I love what we do and everything about it. Bookstores are about education, communication, and community. I love that we sell something that is good for you,” he says. That’s not to say that running a brick-and-mortar store in the age of Amazon is without its challenges. “We know that it’s cheaper for our customers to buy books online,” says Chris. However, buying online doesn’t come close to the experience of buying face-to-face in a friendly store in a small town.
“We’re avid readers and we explore a lot of different types of books and authors,” says Chris. Over time, Chris and his employees get to know their regulars, their preferences, and their favorites. Regulars as well as first-time visitors are encouraged to ask questions and share their preferences. Newbie or longtime shopper, if you wander in for a look around, a staff member is sure to help you find your next favorite book or author.
Connecting the Community
While Morgan Hill can’t match online prices, they are happy to offer discounts to Colby-Sawyer College students and faculty as well as book clubs. Speaking of book clubs, this past October, the bookstore hosted a meet-and-greet mixer for anyone interested in forming or joining one. For anyone new to the area or pleased to discover some extra time on their hands, it was a lovely way for readers to connect. All book club purchases receive a 15 percent discount.
With the holidays fast approaching, Ashlee Rowley, executive director for Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce, suggests, “Now is a great time to support all things local!” The region is rich with artisans, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits. She says, “When you shop locally, $.68 out of every dollar spent stays in the community.” She adds, “We want our small businesses to thrive. Local businesses employ our neighbors, help our kids learn good work habits and skills, and support local initiatives, nonprofits, and events. Everyone benefits when the economy is vibrant and strong.”
Ashlee is one of the bookstore’s many enthusiastic supporters. “Morgan Hill Bookstore is a true local gem,” she says. “From the incredibly knowledgeable and friendly staff to the wide variety of books, toys, cards, locally made items, and quite literally hundreds of possible gifts for friends, family, colleagues, or even just you, it’s an absolute must-shop any time of year.”
Ashlee urges locals and visitors to spend some time in New London this holiday season. “With cozy cafés for breakfast, coffee, lunch, and dinner; great retail shops; and festive events, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be during the holidays. It’s a fantastic place to enjoy all that the season has to offer.”