Teri Dosher, owner of The Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room in downtown Johnson City, prides herself in having an establishment welcoming all forms of arts, with musical performances gracing the stage throughout the weekends and artwork displayed on the walls.
But recently, conversations with her daughter Zoe sparked a realization that something was missing.
Enter Jaime and Robert Santos-Prowse, two of The Willow Tree’s first and most frequent customers who presented the Doshers with the idea of using extra space behind the stage to open a book store — something that the downtown area is currently missing.
Calling it a perfect alignment and an evolution of good ideas and the right energy, Teri Dosher is doing just that. With two of her favorite customers, she’s opening The Word in the Willow in the coming weeks.
Aiming for Sept. 4, a day when downtown streets will be filled for a “First Friday” event, the Santos-Prowses are working hard to get shelves built and books acquired so they can share their idea with visitors to the city’s center.
They don’t like the word manager, but the pair will be running the used book store section of the Willow Tree, with visions of using it for various book-and-community-related events.
“This space has to function for a lot of things,” Jaime Santos-Prowse. “It’s going to be flexible, we want people to feel welcome to sit down and read for a while.”
In addition to plans for an affordable and high-quality book selection, Robert Santos-Prowse said there will also be book readings, a book club, movie nights based on books turned into films and even nights where board games take the focus.
The Doshers have made the Willow Tree a place for people to relax, study, read, enjoy a bite to eat or a beer or coffee to drink, not interested in hurrying customers out the door into Main Street as soon as possible. That’s the approach Jaime and Robert Santos-Prowse are looking for with the book store idea.
Basing their plans on the vibe they got from a combined book store and coffeehouse in Cincinnati, Ohio, Teri and Zoe Dosher said they were going to just go with anyone’s plans. When they saw what the Santos-Prowes had in mind for that extra space, it was perfect for what they had in mind.
Willing to barter with people for their books, the Doshers and Santos-Prowse hope to bring in both the not-so-common interesting titles, as well as classics and everything in between, though Robert Santos-Prowse joked that it’s not going to be the kind of place where you’ll be finding the books that make up “The Twilight Saga.”
Including pieces of art from members of the local community, there will also be a revolving display. Jaime Santos-Prowse is also excited about developing a substantial “ ’zine” collection, which will be comprised on single-made story books, tales and whatever else strikes the fancy of the single-copy maker’s fancy.
During Labor Day week, just after the opening of The Word in the Willow, there will be a ’Zine festival there to highlight the artistic creations.
To learn more about the soon-to-be-opened downtown used-book store, go to their Facebook page and find them on Instagram. You can also get updates through the Willow Tree.