Co-owner Mary Bernard says when people first learned Joe’s Place Bookstore was moving from 640 S. Main St. to Greenville’s Pettigru Historic District, they expressed concern about it being off the main downtown drag. But she wasn’t worried.
“For us, foot traffic didn’t always translate into sales,” she says.
Instead, she and her husband, Alix, planned their new location in a renovated 1920s home at 2 Williams St. to be a destination location.
“Once people find out about us, they’ll come here,” Mary Bernard says. “We want to be a place where people stay and have meetings here.”
The new and used bookstore, coffee shop, and wine bar reopens July 1 in its new three-story, 4,400-square-foot location. The basement and third floor will not be open to the public. The home was already zoned commercial when the Bernards purchased it in January and includes eight parking spaces.
The owners officially closed the original 1,900-square-foot Main Street store May 22 after three years in business.
While the Pettigru location is new to the Bernards, they chose to keep much of the former residence’s history intact.
“We try to really respect the space,” Bernard says.
That meant restoring the oak hardwood floors on the first level and cedar floors upstairs.
Bernard says most homes of that era would have put oak on the first floor for durability and a less expensive and softer pine upstairs. When they removed the carpet, they discovered the cedar, which was a pleasant surprise, Bernard says.
“We were really happy to find the floors, because we didn’t know what we’d find,” she says.
They chose not to refinish them to hide the imperfections, but rather cleaned and sealed them to keep the character intact.
The Bernards worked with architects Craig Gaulden Davis to make some necessary structural changes, including installing a second staircase leading to the upper level, opening a wall to allow the view from the front door to extend to the back Charleston-style porch, removing a couple of other walls to create nine total book rooms throughout the house, and making it ADA accessible.
The additional staircase leads to a sunroom, three sides of which are windows that also feature a custom-made window seat that doubles as a bookshelf.
As funny as it may sound, the upstairs restroom is a favorite room, Bernard says. The overhead light fixture is a repurposed gramophone, which is a nod to the bookstore’s namesake — Mary’s brother Joe who died unexpectedly in 1999. Joe loved Nipper the RCA dog and the accompanying gramophone in the iconic logo. A large Nipper wearing a “Shop Local” bandana greets customers in the front hallway and a smaller figurine sits on a mantle behind the cash wrap next to Joe’s photo.
Also a favorite feature in the restroom is a small vignette where the drywall has been removed so the original, hand-hewn supports and remnants of the old knob-and-tube wiring are visible. An original medicine cabinet also remains.
Each of the five rooms upstairs has a different collection of used books, including a children’s room that is zoo-themed in honor of the nearby Greenville Zoo.
Downstairs has four book rooms, a chalkboard wall where specials and the café menu will be listed, a coffee bar, wine bar, and small kitchen.
The bookshelves are a variety of thrifted pieces and items from the former location.
The L-shaped coffee bar, where Due South coffee and espresso will be served, was built out of unused doors removed from the home. The wooden ceiling over the wine bar was also created from repurposed lumber from the building.
“I knew it was going to be awesome, but it’s beyond what I thought,” Bernard says.
Initially, Joe’s Place hours will be Monday–Thursday, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. and Friday–Saturday, 8 a.m.–until.