While perusing through Netflix today, I saw a teaser for Season 3 of Stranger Things. It was introducing the concept of the shopping mall. My favorite bookstore was one of those featured in the teaser. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: Waldenbooks.
How I first came across this moment? I was introduced to Waldenbooks during my first-ever visit to CNN Center during the October 2002 field trip in Mr. Zeigler’s Honors Economics 12 class. I wanted a postcard and they were available in the store.
What it meant to me then? I loved the vibe of the spot. I had been in several bookstores before that particular stop-in but none of them had the ambiance that Waldenbooks possessed. From the way the books were arranged to the displays, it was fantastic. I wrote in Triumphs & Tribulations III that it “was a book lover’s paradise”. That day in Atlanta, I ended up purchasing a postcard of the Atlanta cityscape and a copy of Carl Weber’s Lookin’ for Luv. I also joined the Waldenbooks Preferred Reader frequent buyer program…even though there were no locations in Birmingham. On trips I made to Lithia Springs with Valorie Drew, we’d also travel into Atlanta and hit up Waldenbooks. When I was stationed in South Georgia, I visited the CNN Center location as well as locations in Tallahassee and Jacksonville. I loved the store. It always had whatever book or magazine I was looking for.
What it means to me now? Waldenbooks started going downhill in 2004 when many of the locations were rebranded as Borders Express. It was the same feel, just a different livery. My last visit to an actual Waldenbooks was in June 2009, when I visited the location in the Chicago Loop. Waldenbooks eventually closed all of its stores in 2011 and I never got a chance to visit another store before they were gone. I’m very much reminded of all of the good times I had walking through the aisles and looking at the displays inside of the stores. I miss it. I miss being able to go in and just get lost amongst the thousands of books and magazines. I miss the “thanks for reading with us” line I got every time I used that Preferred Reader card…the 10% discount that came with it was an absolute steal. The only place I’ve been able to replicate Waldenbooks is the only place that Waldenbooks looks up to in my book: the library.