Thursday, February 25, 2016

Visiting the oldest bookstore in America – and its resident ghost: The Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is still thriving, some 270 years after its founding

‘We’ve created something here,’ says the Moravian book shop’s manager. ‘What you hear people say is we’re an experience.’
 ‘We’ve created something here,’ says the Moravian book shop’s manager. ‘What you hear people say is we’re an experience.’ Photograph: Moravian Book Shop

On a recent Friday morning, I showed up to Moravian Book Shop a little before the store was to open. Moravian is the oldest bookstore in the United States, founded in 1745, and has expanded many times over the years, taking over neighboring buildings. It now occupies 15,000 square feet on Main Street in downtown Bethlehem, Pensylvania. I wasn’t sure where to go in. Such a large footprint means the store has a few front doors.
Lisa Girard quickly spotted me from inside, brought me in out of the wind blowing up from the Lehigh river, and began explaining just how a bookstore (a warm one, I might add) has managed to stay open for so long. Moravian even opened a second location in nearby Allentown last year. That’s an unusual longevity for a business in this corner of the country, where one of the world’s mightiest steel mills, Bethlehem Steel, couldn’t keep a business going long into the new century. Read more...


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