VOICES OF DAVIDSON
HOMETOWN HERO: Adah Fitzgerald
Adah Fitzgerald’s Davidson roots run deep. She studied biology at Davidson College and taught high school biology for 13 years in local schools. She also served on the Davidson Fire Dept as a volunteer firefighter for ten years, starting in college.
Now owner of Main Street Books, Fitzgerald taught herself to run a bookstore by asking questions, attending conferences, and making friends with other indie bookstore owners.
She has two children and her husband, Bo, is Davidson Fire Department Chief and Charlotte Fire Department Division Chief. In her spare time, she likes to run, grow veggies and flowers for cutting, ponder the Enneagram, listen to podcasts, and fantasize about backyard homesteading.
Tell me about your day job.
I lead the team of booksellers at Main Street Books, so my days include everything from ordering books for the store and customers, planning author events with our Events Manager, composing pithy notes for the newsletter, reading, and keeping up with new books coming out from various publishers. There is a lot of screen time, but I always have my lovely booksellers to talk books with.
How did you uncover this passion?
I have been an avid reader all of my life. My childhood home was filled with books. My mother read voraciously, and in front of us, literally modeling the reading life. As a young child, I adored Roald Dahl’s wit and Beverly Cleary’s compassion. As a young teen, I pulled John Irving and Louis de Berinieres, Alice Hoffman and Ann Patchett from my mother’s shelves. When Main Street Books came up for sale in 2015, we jumped at the chance to curate shelves of books and build community around literature.
What inspires you every day?
Our booksellers inspire me every day. They love to read, and their tastes are varied. When I walk into the bookshop, they often jump right into impassioned accounts of books that have moved them.
What are your challenges and speed bumps along the way?
Our speed bumps are sometimes rooted in learning (from mistakes) on the job. After five years of owning and managing Main Street Books, I’m still learning. The speed bumps also look like Amazon, a sizable rent hike, and a global pandemic.
Secrets to staying motivated and positive?
Hire cheerful and optimistic readers as booksellers. This has been life-giving.
How can Davidson residents best support you?
Think hard before buying a book from Amazon. Your local shops literally invest in community – we have created space and curated inventory with our community readers in mind. We foster conversation and invest in connection by bringing author events to our readers. Sales taxes collected from our shop go into local schools and services. Our staff live in our community. Our partnerships with local non-profits put books into the hands of kids who do not have the disposable income to build their own home libraries. Amazon does none of these.
Soon we’ll have a completely redeveloped website to offer more sophisticated e-commerce in our continued efforts to provide shopping options that diminish the potential for transmission of COVID-19. Look for that in September.
Andrea Nordstrom Caughey
Andrea Nordstrom Caughey is a magazine editor and lifelong writer who hit the jackpot moving to Davidson from California.