GREENWICH, Conn. — Enter Diane’s Books in Greenwich, step past the doormat celebrating 25 years in business and you may find Diane Garrett, the store’s vivacious and outgoing owner.
An expert on all things literary, Garrett’s literary prowess and local celebrity is noticed by many in Greenwich — even advertisers in the town’s magazine.
“Does the Fieldstone Group know Greenwich real estate?” says a recent ad in Greenwich Magazine. “Does Diane know her books?”
Garrett also knows the right time and place to start a business. She opened her iconic Grigg Street bookstore in 1990, when there were seven other bookstores in town — a gamble at the time.
“Everyone told me that I was crazy,” Garrett said from her office, which is chockablock with boxes and shelves of books. “They said Greenwich didn’t need another bookstore.”
They were wrong. Her store is the last one standing.
Garrett said she can hardly believe that she opened her stone, a landmark in the Greenwich community, so many years ago.
“It doesn’t feel like 25 years,” Garrett said, adding that the time passes by quickly because she loves her job. “I’m living my passion every day.”
Her passion is getting children hooked on reading. One child confided in her that she wanted a short book because she was a slow reader. Garrett said she was impressed by the child’s honesty.
“It’s a beautiful thing when a child has the confidence to tell you that,” Garrett said.
Garrett also still writes to another customer, who is studying at Princeton. When he was in eighth grade, he wasn’t much of a reader, but his parents brought him to the store.
As a teenager, he would leave her a note if he visited the store when she wasn’t there. Today, she writes to him on his birthday each October.
Garrett said she hopes her store is like the general store that she and her friends stopped at on their way home from school when they were children — a safe, enjoyable place to find books.
The store is also popular with authors, who sign the store’s walls. Every surface is covered — from the ceilings to the water closet door.
Although only authors are supposed to sign the walls, one enterprising customer signed when Garrett wasn’t looking. He left his name, and he wrote down his $106 tab.
Even with the widespread availability of books on Kindles and iPads, Garrett believes there is still a place for a bookstore and an actual book.
“They might read their book on their Kindle going into New York,” Garrett said. “(But) when they come home and have their glass of wine they want a real book in their hand.”
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