Raising awareness for reading: Bookstore turns Japanese fire truck into bookmobile

Published 12:01 am Sunday, March 12, 2023

SALISBURY — Soon you may find yourself driving through Salisbury on a sunny day, looking out your window and alongside you pulls up a red, Japanese fire truck…filled with books?

The Suzuki fire truck, which can now be referred to as a “book truck,” is the latest addition to South Main Book Company. Alissa Redmond, the owner of the bookstore, said the truck was so striking when she first laid eyes on it that she had to have it.

“The second I saw it, I knew it was perfect for what I want to do for kids in Rowan County — particularly my own kids, who are already obsessed with it,” she said.

With only 1,000 miles on the odometer and top speeds of up to 55 mph, the truck will be used as a display case, delivery vehicle and as a float for parades and events that are happening around the county. The truck’s water pump and hose have been removed, but the sirens are still operating, in case there is some sort of book emergency. Additional bookshelves are currently being built for the truck bed.

The idea for the truck came about because Redmond wanted to raise awareness of the joy of reading, especially for little kids. She was also inspired by other bookstores around the country who own book trucks.

“I follow a lot of other bookstores in the country that have them and they do some really cool projects, so I just thought there were a lot of things I can do in Rowan County to raise awareness of the fun of reading,” Redmond said.

She is planning to drive the book truck during the 2023 Greater Charlotte Book Crawl. Starting April 1, bookworms can pick up a book crawl passport at any of the fifteen participating stores, including South Main Book Company. The goal is to visit each participating store to receive a stamp in your passport. If you have visited all bookstores by April 29, which is also National Independent Bookstore Day, then you can enter into a drawing for the grand prize: a collection of gift cards for each bookstore with a total value of $300.

Another reason Redmond bought the truck is to be more engaged in the parades that occur around the county and remembers her daughters telling her they wanted to ride in the Salisbury Christmas Parade last year. That was when the idea shifted into high gear and Redmond started thinking about getting some sort of float to represent the bookstore.

She hopes to use the truck in the Earth Day Jam, the Farmers Day Festival in China Grove, the Salisbury Pride Festival and the Pedal Factory’s Spring Roll event.

Sadly, the book truck won’t fit in the store.

“I’m not quite sure where I’m going to park it, but we will hopefully be riding it around town pretty regularly to fill up little free libraries and if people want to hire us for a birthday party or something,” she said.

One couple is getting married in the bookstore next year and the bride has considered rolling up in the truck with her dad for the service.

“We’re going to use it as creatively as we can, just to have a good time with it,” Redmond said.

The book truck will have finishing touches done over the weekend and then will be ready to tear up the road. The only thing that Redmond said could slow her down?

“I have to learn how to drive a stick before I take it anywhere,” she said.