Most Greensboro locals know about Scuppernong, an independent bookstore in downtown Greensboro. It has a lot of cultural value, offers community events and serves coffee (as well as wine for those over 21).
Scuppernong is nearing the fifth anniversary since its opening, and its owners, Brian Lampkin and Nancy Hoffmann, seem only excited for the bookstore’s future. While speaking to Lampkin, he revealed much about the store’s history, its cultural value and the distinguished fox, which serves as the store’s icon.
According to Lampkin, business at Scuppernong is booming, and he and Hoffmann feel, “embraced by the city.” Their store, Lampkin said, serves an important niche in Greensboro because he believes, “Greensboro needs an independent bookstore.” The two, Lampkin said, hope to “meet the city in all its variety and [they] try to reach out to all people and communities.”
I asked Lampkin about the fox which distinguishes itself as a unique marker for the bookstore. All around Scuppernong, foxes are everywhere; there are stuffed toy foxes that can be purchased and the sign out front features a fox. The fox, Lampkin said, “is from Aesop’s fable, [from the story] ‘The Fox and the Grapes.’”
In this story, a fox sees a bunch of grapes hanging from a branch, but no matter what he does, he cannot reach them; eventually, the fox gives up, and claims the grapes were sour anyway. This story can be read many ways in reference to Scuppernong. Are we the fox? Always trying to reach something unattainable, maybe the knowledge that lies in these books? Or are we the grapes? Something that is trying to be reached through the words we read? On a business card I received from Lampkin, there is an image of a fox reading while sitting on a stump next to a bunch of eaten grapes. This image, I believe, poses the answer; we are the fox, and the grapes represent knowledge which can only be reached if we pick up a book and start reading.
In the interest of starting to read, I talked to a few customers at Scuppernongs. I first spoke to a man named Joss. While he didn’t come to Scuppernong often, Joss said, it was where he found his favorite book currently, “Blood Meridian.”
“There is just so much to this novel,” said Joss, “McCarthy [the author] writes of this judge character who represents, like the judge, is the be-all-end-all character.”
I also spoke to a woman named Rebecca, an aspiring actress who has been coming to Scuppernong often lately. Her favorite aspect of the store is its vibe. “It’s awesome, they have really good coffee and a nice staff, the owner is friendly, he recognizes me and says hi when I come in.”
Lampkin’s mention that his favorite section is poetry; his favorite book currently is, “Easy Travel to Other Planets.”
Before I left, I also had a chance to talk to Hoffmann, the owner of Scuppernong and the building. She had been approached by Lampkin about the building, and the two had worked tirelessly for almost a year and a half to get the building up-and-running.
“When I bought this building it had been boarded up for 25 years,” said Hoffmann, “it was a wreck and we made it live again.” Hoffmann also talked about how she felt the store was doing, “In terms of shopping experience, people are looking for businesses with character.” Scuppernongs has a wonderful character, walking through the books, the store feels fresh and alive. The books are curated to for a wide audience, from those seeking a new work of fiction, to comparative religions or a just a new read.
For more information about Scuppernongs, like store hours and events, visit their website at http://www.scuppernongbooks.com/.