She calls herself the “book hunter” and now Beverly Ingle has her downtown lair.
Ingle celebrated the opening of her Bespoke Books and Archives at 7 E. Market St. in Leesburg last week. The cozy bookshop has an eclectic assortment of books available to customers, from new reads to used books and, a particular passion of Ingle’s, vintage and classic titles, some of which are hundreds of years old. Ingle refers to her new shop as a “hybrid bookstore.”
“It really is kind of a blend,” she said. “We’ve got everything from brand new bestsellers, hot off the press titles to some used ones that are really either classic favorites in great shape or maybe different covers of the books, to lots of vintage books from the late 1800s or early 1900s. I’ve got stuff that goes back to the 1600s which is amazing to touch and hold.”
“I’m stocking hard-to-find books on interesting topics, collector’s editions of classics, vintage editions with beautiful cover designs, and antiquarian books that are practically works of art,” she continued. If Ingle finds something fascinating, she adds it to her inventory. Categories currently include adult and children’s fiction, U.S. history, famous and infamous personalities, domestic arts (including cooking, entertaining and etiquette), theology and philosophy, among others.
Bespoke also gives Ingle the opportunity to offer her archiving services.
“That’s a whole other kind of fun for me,” she said. “It stems out of my interest in genealogy and professional training in archives. An overarching issue that I’ve always been an advocate for is access to information. There’s so many manuscripts and correspondence and all types of things that may not be considered important. But whetherit’s a family or organization or corporation there’s significant reason to keep some of those documents. That’s information somebody is going to want at some point. I can help families and organizations get all organized and help them analyze what is their intent with the collection, and weed out what to keep. That way, generations can understand more.”
Ingle said all the pieces fell perfectly into place for opening her first bookshop. Her family had recently relocated from Texas, and quickly fell in love with Leesburg, its aesthetics and strong historical roots. An ancestor of Ingle’s lived in Loudoun during the Revolutionary War, and she is eager to piece together that genealogical puzzle. She said opening a bookstore “had always been bubbling around in the back of my mind” and reading had always been a big part of her life. A professional writer, Ingle has published books, and has a master’s degree in library science.
She recalls waking up one morning after arriving in Leesburg with the resolve to scope out the downtown book scene.
“I knew we’ve got Books and Other Found Things, but as far as anything offering new material or really ancient texts which I love,” Ingle said she didn’t see anything currently offered. “I poked around and found the spot on Market Street. It was a beautiful and perfect place. Somebody tipped the first domino and it all fell right into place. The funding was available, the space was just what I wanted. It’s the perfect starting spot, close to King Street, near the action. It’s small enough that it feels intimate without being tiny. It’s just kind of the perfect time to stick my toes in the water, especially coming out of COVID.”
The 500-square-foot space is “sort of like visiting somebody’s living room.” She said she can foresee growing into a larger space down the road, possibly even within the same building, and continuing to be a part of the downtown fabric.
Perhaps what Ingle is most excited about with her new business is being able to hunt down treasured titles for her customers.
“The whole finding treasure aspect of it is what I think is probably the most fun of the entire enterprise,” Ingle said. “That’s why I have chief book hunter as my title—it’s fun to find and source something somebody has been wanting for years.”
Initial hours for Bespoke are 1-6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, and Wednesdays by appointment. For more information, go to bespokebooks.org.