CHESTER — The owners of Phoenix Books, an independent bookstore with locations in Essex, Burlington and Rutland, recently purchased Misty Valley Books in Chester, Vt. Michael DeSanto and Renee Reiner met with Lynne and Bill Reed — who bought the Chester landmark in 2001 — for the closing Monday, May 16.
“Twenty-one years ago,” said Reiner, “as Mike and I embarked on this adventure, we considered buying Misty Valley Books from the original owners, Dwight Currie and Michael Kohlmann. So it feels like we’ve come full circle. We are so delighted to have Misty Valley as part of our Phoenix family!”
“It feels fitting to keep Misty Valley going and growing as part of our goal to preserve local independent bookstores and strengthen the communities hosting the stores,” added DeSanto. “We hope to complete the transition with no interruption in the high level of service Chester and the surrounding communities have seen over the years. Bill and Lynne Reed have lovingly owned and operated this iconic New England independent bookstore, and our intent is to keep intact all the traditions surrounding the store while adding a few new ideas from the experience of owning and operating three other stores in Rutland, Essex and Burlington. The wonderful programming, especially New Voices and Vermont Voices, will continue, with guidance from the Reeds, we hope. The present staff has been invited to stay on, so customers may not even notice the change in ownership. We look forward to serving the community for many years to come.”
DeSanto and Reiner were the owners of The Book Rack and Children’s Pages, first located in Winooski, Vt., and then Essex, for eight years. They sold the store in 2003, but the appeal of bookselling was too strong to resist, they said. The couple founded Phoenix Books in Essex, Vt. in 2007 and, in 2012, opened a second location in Burlington. Last September, following a recruitment effort by Green Mountain Power in collaboration with the City of Rutland, Downtown Rutland Partnership, and local residents and businesses, DeSanto and Reiner opened Phoenix Books Rutland. The couple discovered that Misty Valley Bookstore was for sale at the New England Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference in October of 2015, where Bill Reed wore a sign hanging on his back that read “Bookstore for Sale. (We’re retiring.) Inquire other side.”
Now in its 29th year, Misty Valley Books occupies a beautiful historic building in a storefront location adjacent to the Fullerton Inn and across from the handsome Chester Green. Approximately 6,000 books are stocked, including current fiction and nonfiction in hardcover and paperback, art, poetry, spirituality, history, biography and Vermontiana, a young reader section and a children’s room, plus greeting cards, magazines, calendars and toys.The store hosts numerous author events, including the prestigious Vermont Voices series in the fall and nationally recognized New Voices in January. The store has also provided off-premises bookstores for the Vermont Humanities Council Fall Conference, UVM’s Asian Studies Outreach Program and local businesses and restaurants.
“We are so pleased that Michael and Renee of Phoenix Books are buying Misty Valley Books!” said Lynne Reed. “Bill and I have had a perfect life here in Chester for the past 15 years. What could be better than having a bookstore where everyone who comes in loves to read, where you get to have interesting and meaningful conversations every day, and where you know and love your customers. We are happy that they will be continuing Misty Valley’s strong commitment to our community, readers and author events including the well-known Misty Valley New Voices annual weekend for debut authors. They will be a great addition to Chester and the surrounding towns in southern Vermont.”
“We will miss the daily involvement with bookselling,” Bill Reed added, “but we are convinced by the Phoenix people we have met, and knowing [Misty Valley staff members] Kim, Amanda, John and Sylvan will continue to be the faces of Misty Valley Books, that Phoenix Books is the perfect succession. The bookstore we have loved and nurtured will be in very good hands.”