Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Carol Hoenig talks about her wonderful new bookstore (it has WINE! and FOOD!) The Turn of the Corkscrew

Who isn't thrilled when a great new bookstore opens up? I first visited Turn of the Corkscrew: Books and Wine (110 North Park Ave, Rockville Center, Long Island, NY) for a reading. It's incredible! Not only does it have these wonderful winding rooms, but it has very special wines (served in real wine glasses), delicious food, and all the books you could ever want. You can paint and sip, bring a date, browse the books, have great wine and food, and just hang and talk to Carol and Peggy! What's particularly wonderful is that both Carol and Peggy risked it all to create this gorgeous space, so even if you don't live near by, you can still place online orders. Do it for the community. Do it for yourself. Do it for bookstores everywhere.  And thank you so much, Carol for this interview!

In these tough times, what made you want to open a book store?
Good question. Both Peggy, my business partner, and I had been talking for a number of years (after having worked at Borders Books for many years) of wanting to open a bookstore, but we knew the timing wasn’t right since bookstores seemed to be struggling, not to mention closing in droves; however, since I have always been involved in the publishing industry as a consultant and writer, I started to see that independent bookstores were making a comeback. So, we dipped our toes in the water and began researching the possibilities and managed to overcome each hurdle that was put in our way, and here we are. Go figure.
What I love is that your store also has a wine bar! And delicious food! And a warm comfortable feeling to it. Did you know this was always what you wanted it to be or did it become that way organically? I was so impressed by the crowd, the interest, the whole energy of the place!
Thanks so much, Caroline. And, yes, that is exactly what we wanted it to be. I’d been hosting a monthly book discussion in my home that we called Book & a Bottle since wine was always flowing, and my daughter who loves to cook, would prepare a menu inspired by the book we were discussing. Therefore, we wanted to shift that ambience to the bookstore.
What's the hardest thing about running a bookstore?  The easiest?
The hardest is getting people into the store! We came up against major challenges months after we opened since our street was closed almost daily due to major infrastructure for six months. What with the internet offering books, people didn’t necessarily want to struggle to get to us since they had other options. In addition, we cannot give the dramatic discounts that Amazon can, but most of our faithful customers understand that we bring value to the community that the internet cannot. Also, because we had to use most of our working capital to get us through those six months, we have a limited budget to order in a lot of stock, which is very frustrating. As for the easiest part about running a bookstore I would have to say showing up for work. I’d worked from my home office for over ten years and wasn’t sure I’d like the commitment to get out of my PJ’s and come to work, but each day brings new opportunities, as well as challenges to overcome, and I like that. (That said, I still work as a publishing consultant, writer, editor, ghostwriter, etc, because sleep is overrated.)
What do you want people to know about Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine that they might be surprised to know?  And as a professional namer (really!) I want to know how you came up with the great name for the shop!
Well, we wanted to have our name represent that we are both a bookstore and a wine shop. Peggy and I were brainstorming in my kitchen one night and she spotted the display of corkscrews I have near my wine bar and at first shouted out, “Taming of the Corkscrew!” Then we realized that didn’t quite make sense, but then I remembered Henry James’ novella, Turn of the Screw and suggested that, while tacking on “Books & Wine” and we both loved it. I’m pleased to say we still do. Some people get it and some don’t, but it gives us an opportunity to talk about what we have to offer.
What's obsessing you now and why?
Introducing readers to new writers-whether they are new to the publishing industry or just to the reader. We believe society has so many distractions that yield little reward that delving in a book, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, can open a mind and show another side of the story.  Reading doesn’t have to be dry and boring. It can create interesting conversations and add value to our lives.
What question didn't I ask that I should have?

People may not realize that both Peggy and I believed so much in this venture that we both used our homes as collateral, as well as our savings. We know we won’t get rich anytime soon, but we believe in the necessity of education and books are instrumental in that. We host a lot of author events, workshops and readings, hoping to be a place for the community.

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