Laughing Sky: New book store opens in downtown Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 15, 2008

By Katie Scarvey
Lots of people knew about Rainy Day bookstore in downtown Salisbury. Managed by several different owners, it got the reputation as a hangout for the younger crowd, with a bit of an urban grunge feel.
The new owner, Jennifer Koerner, is pretty young herself at 33, but she’s approaching the bookstore with a different aesthetic, something a little more sophisticated and mainstream.
Koerner moved to Salisbury from Indiana with her family about five years ago. Her husband, John Hughes, is an attorney with Wallace and Graham. They have an 8-year-old daughter, Caroline.
She acquired the bookstore in September ó the same week as the stock market crashed.
Koerner says “nearly everyone” warned her not to start a business now.
“I knew it was a risk,” she says.
But when she walked into the store, she felt it had a lot of potential. She had a vision for the store, she says. It would be “a friendly place where those who love to read could buy books at half the cost of retail.”
Even in a bad economy, “true book lovers cannot live without fresh reading material,” she says.
Paperbacks go for half the cover price (for a minimum of $1) and hardcovers are priced individually.
Penny pinchers will be happy to know that they can get trade credit for books they bring in.
Koerner changed the store’s name to Laughing Sky and re-opened in October.
The name comes from a Wallace Stevens poem, “Le Monocle de Mon Oncle” ó a pretty good indication that Koerner has a literary sensibility.
Laughing Sky has an eclectic inventory, with a wide selection of used books, collectible books, audio books and DVDs. Some titles are rare and out of print. She gets her inventory from book sales and from customer trade-ins.
If a customer wants something that Koerner doesn’t have, she will order the book. She’s already got regular customers and tries to cater to their needs.
Fans of Oprah’s book club will be glad to know there is a special section devoted to those popular titles.
So far, Koerner says, mystery/thrillers are doing well, as are westerns and fantasy and science fiction books. She’s discovered that with self-help books, people tend to look but not buy.
Besides being an avid reader, Koerner is a serious writer, of both poetry and fiction.
She’s an editor of MiPoesias Magazine, a literary periodical based out of Miami that has published poems that have appeared in the Best American Poetry anthology. She’s been involved with the publication for about five years.
Koerner says she’s been writing since she was a child, getting serious about it in her mid-20s. She’s had some poems published in literary journals, and she’s almost finished her first novel, which is about a young woman from a dysfunctional family, who is struggling to find herself. She’s hoping her agent in Boston will be shopping the book around to publishers soon.
Koerner likes to donate her overstocked books to the Rowan County Correctional Center.
“Books can heal, inspire and open minds to new ideas and possibilities,” she says. “By sending books to prisoners, we hope to encourage a love of reading and the pursuit of self-improvement.”
Koerner invites the public to drop off books to donate to the correctional center’s library. Beginning early in 2009, Laughing Sky will host a quarterly open mike night, open to writers of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, as well as those who play acoustic instruments. The first one will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 25. Koerner is also considering holding some writing workshops.
The store held a holiday poetry contest recently and named 11-year-old Heather Carmichael the winner.
Laughing Sky hours are 9-3 Monday-Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.