Chuck Beard ’02 opens unique bookstore in Nashville
Chuck Beard ’02 is telling a different kind of tale with his unique new bookstore, East Side Story, which recently opened in Nashville.
Beard became interested in opening his bookstore as a way to fill a niche in the thriving cultural life of Nashville by putting local writers in the spotlight.
“Nashville is a really dynamic city right now, filled with tons of opportunities for creative people of all walks of life to flourish and shine. It is so welcoming and bubbling over with an amazing passion for new art everywhere,” says Beard. “That said, I noticed that there was a definite lack of venue or any opportunity for local literary talent to get started, develop or even promote their work the way they would love to do in their own backyard when they are published.”
That’s when Beard heard about Proof Branding Solutions’ contest to improve local communities—and he knew he had to apply.
“I decided to throw my idea for having an all-local bookstore into the mix. Over 100 other ideas were in the same hat, but mine was chosen,” he says. “Because I won the contest I was able to work with the branding company to put together a business plan, marketing strategy, logo and fully functional website design—all I needed after that was a location.”
The bookstore, located in the popular Five Points area of East Nashville, had its grand opening on Sept. 15 to great success. People are highly interested in its distinct business model.
“It is Nashville’s only all-local bookstore. We house every genre possible, and the only rule is that the author—both published and self-published—or artist is Nashville-based,” Beard says. “Some people may live in Franklin and other surrounding areas outside of the city limits, but your work is welcome if you live, work or play the majority of your time in Nashville.
“On top of the local books, we also have artwork and will have rotating art exhibitions. The only rules are that the artist has to be local and it has to be book-inspired,” Beard continues. “One artist has paintings of famous quotes on top of recycled papers. Another artist has made old books into book planters with plants growing out of the middle of it. So far the art inspiration has been limitless.”
Beard is himself a self-published author, and his book “Adventures Inside a Bright-Eyed Sky” led him to create a non-profit organization, Campus For a Cure, dedicated to cancer research.
“We organize events with other artists, musicians and writers to raise money for other cancer research and support groups,” he says. “We don’t keep any of the money and we hope our story and the book’s story help other people along their own adventures. All of the proceeds from the book sales of my book are being donated to Gilda’s Club Nashville.”
At East Side Story, Beard strives to create a connection between authors and the people who buy their books.
“The entire book process is a consignment deal. I have talked directly to the authors, bypassing agents and publishers for the most part. When the books sell, I email the author pretty much everything but the name of the people who bought their books to let them know where their stories are going,” says Beard. “The love and enthusiasm the authors feel for this connection of knowing where their ‘babies’ are going has been so much fun.”
Beard acknowledges that graduating from Centre helped prepare him for what he is doing now.
“Going to Centre really helped me learn how to learn. Being surrounded by so many quality people who are always working together to help each other become successful in their own unique ways, you can’t help but become a better version of yourself,” Beard says. “I was fortunate enough to study abroad several times while attending Centre, and I think that the combination of cultural studies, matched with the teamwork I learned playing football and baseball, on top of the quality of classes and teachers and the liberal arts experience in a city like Danville really prepared me and my friends to face anything that comes our way with confidence and pride in the adults we have become because we are Colonels.”
With numerous events, workshops and promotions planned for the future, Beard is excited for what lies in store for East Side Story.
“It has been quite the rollercoaster ride so far, from the contest to opening the store in less than two months, but it looks very promising and everyone in town and beyond has been super positive and receptive,” he says. “I have yet to see a person leave the store without a big smile on their face. I feel really lucky and blessed.”