The Times Leader Article about our Opening

By Stacey Menser The Times Leader Sep 7, 2016

In this particular tale, two black cats from two different worlds find a way to live in perfect harmony at a local bookstore, aptly named The Cat’s Tale.

It is there that Caldwell County resident Maggie Gammon has translated her lifelong love of books into an up and coming business and a lovely home for two of her cats, Jenny Linsky and Pyewacket.

“When I was a child, I loved ‘The Cat Club’ books by Esther Averill about the cat Jenny Linsky,” said Gammon.

“And Pyewacket is the name of the witch’s cat in the play ‘Bell, Book and Candle,’ which was later made into a movie.

“You’ll find both of them here at the store. This is their home.”

Jenny Linsky and Pyewacket have been greeting customers at The Cat’s Tale, a used book store located at 207 W. Main St. in downtown Princeton, since Gammon opened for business on Aug. 1.

A grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony with the Prince­ton-Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce on was held Aug. 30, and Gammon said she couldn’t be happier.

For her, becoming a book store owner seemed to be the pathway to living an ideal life.

Since childhood, Gammon has been an avid reader and collector of books; and for the last 17 years, she has been selling books online.

“Every time I would go to a sale to buy a book, I’d end up buying a whole box full. I kept accumulating books for my own personal collection but really had way more than I needed,” she said.

“And I can’t throw a book away, so I needed to do something with them.”

Gammon and her husband, Darrell, were living in North Carolina when they began making plans to retire in Princeton. Her family was here; and while Darrell grew up in Henderson, Princeton always felt like home to him.

“When I thought about coming back to Princeton, I thought how neat would it be to open a store and sit all day long surrounded by books,” said Gammon, who quotes Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows,” saying, ‘There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in books.’

“The quote is actually about ‘boats,’” Gammon admitted. “But I say ‘books’ instead because it fits for me.”

While the couple was still living in North Carolina, they often made trips into Princeton. It was during one of those trips that Darrell noticed a “for sale” sign at 207 W. Main.

“He was here in Princeton for something and saw a note in the window of this building saying it was for sale,” said Gammon, motioning around the interior of her store. “Darrell called me immediately and I said, ‘I found your bookstore.’

“He was right. When we walked in, we could just see it. We saw how this space was perfect for what I wanted to do.”

The couple purchased the building in 2003; and Maggie, who is a history buff and genealogy enthusiast, went to work researching the property.

The building that houses The Cat’s Tale can be found on a 1913 map of downtown Princeton. Gammon said she believes the Eldred family bought the property shortly before 1913, sometime between 1912-13 at least.

“And the building remained in that family until 2003 when we bought it. Many people remember this building as the Sweet Shop. Then it was the Modern Beauty Shop for many years,” said Gammon.

After purchasing the property, the couple came to Princeton on vacation days to gradually work on the building.

Once Darrell retired from IBM and Maggie retired from her work as a litigation paralegal, the couple moved to Princeton full time to fulfill their retirement dreams.

But in April 2011, Darrell passed away suddenly; and Maggie stopped all work at the bookstore.

She still owned the building, but it stood untouched for about four years.

“When I retired last year from Bremner, I decided it was time to get back in here and get to work,” she said.

James Wilson Construction was called in to take care of some of the bigger projects, while Gammon relied on her friend Cecelia Hutchinson to work as “unpaid help” in getting the storefront up and running.

Now open for business, The Cat’s Tale offers a little bit of everything when it comes to genres — children’s books, young teen fiction, romance novels, reference books, an eclectic mix of non-fiction, cookbooks, history, etc.

The majority of merchandise is made up of used books — either books from Gammon’s own collection or those she has received as trade-ins from customers.

“You might find a new book or two that ended up here as a trade in,” she said.

In the way of newer books, customers at times will find the work of local authors available.

Gammon hosted a book signing for Princeton author Steve Asher on the same day as her grand opening.

“I’ve always liked the idea of being able to promote local authors,” she said.

As a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, Gammon said she is able to search for specific books when customers make requests and even track down copies of out-of-print books for customers.

She takes books on consignment and accepts books for trade-in as well.

Customers who visit The Cat’s Tale will be greeted by the whole crew — Gammon, Pyewacket and Jenny Linsky — and will be stepping into one local woman’s dream.

“What I envision is people coming in, browsing and finding a book to buy, then sitting down with a cup of coffee,” said Gammon. “I want people to come in and enjoy themselves, enjoy the day here with us surrounded by books.”